Feed Me

I’m a great believer in going to the hospital to have babies. None of this have-your-baby-at-home stuff for me. In the hospital, you press buttons and people bring you things. When you’re done with those things, you press more buttons and people come and take them away. You don’t have to cook, you don’t have to clean, you can limit visitors. It’s all very peaceful.

I have especially fond memories of the hospital in which I gave birth to my second child. Labor was short. A nurse showed me my gorgeous new son, then took him away to bathe him and put on his first diaper. My husband and I just glowed. Then somebody wheeled me into my room, and I went blissfully to sleep. When I awoke, I immediately began to look forward to pressing buttons. The first button brought me a nurse, who said they would shortly start bringing the babies to the new moms to be fed. Soon, I could hear the nurses dropping babies off in rooms down the hall. Coos and oohs and ahs filled the hallway. All of a sudden, one of the newborns began to yell. And yell. And yell. The baby was in frenzy and could not be soothed. Its cries were insistent, unrelenting, loud, and annoying. “Wow,” I said to myself, “I’m sure glad that baby isn’t mine.” Just then, a nurse brought that baby into my room and handed him over. Yikes.

Newly hatched Pied-billed Grebe baby on Southwest Pond, Montlake Fill

I was reminded of this story yesterday when I heard peeping yells coming from Southwest Pond. I hurried over to see what was happening and found a newly hatched Pied-billed Grebe baby in a frenzy, yelling at its parents to feed it now now NOW. The parents were frantically diving for fish and stuffing their catch into the baby’s mouth as fast as they could. The baby stopped peeping only long enough to swallow, and then resumed its crying. Its noises were insistent, demanding, unrelenting, loud, and annoying.

I watched the parents sympathetically. How well I remember those days. I smiled. “Wow,” I said, “I’m sure glad that baby isn’t mine.”