The Nativity Story: 2011


By Lauren Plante, MD 


A couple thousand years ago, a nice Jewish girl has a baby in a stable. Rejoicing ensues. And so it should: the astonishing event of birth resonates with us at  a primal level. It’s an everyday occurrence, and still a miraculous one. With great effort and energy, a new life appears. There should be a star in the sky for each one.

This is the time of year when one or two billion people turn their thoughts to a single birth story. But it’s time to update that birth story for the twenty-first century.


Bethlehem Hospital

“Hello, Mary, so nice to see you. May I see your insurance information? Here are your consent forms: sign here, please.

“OK, birth plan, let me see…Unfortunately we’ve got no room at the birth center. Actually, we’ve had to close the birth center, hardly anyone was using it any more. It just didn’t make financial sense to keep it open. No worries, though. We can in-process you right here, in the Special Delivery suite.

“What? Oh, no, this isn’t Labor and Delivery, we’ve changed the name.  Nobody has to labor any more. This isn’t your grandmother’s birth experience!

“The anesthesiologist will be along in a minute. My advice is, go with the epidural, that way you’ll be awake for the birth. Although some of our mothers are a little frightened of the operating room and ask to be put to sleep. Joseph, did you bring a videocamera or were you planning to use your smartphone?

“So, what are you having? Ahh, a little boy, how lovely. What have you named him? And circumcision, yes or no? Breast or bottle feeding?

“Doctor is still tied up with the cesarean before yours. He’ll be with you as soon as he can. Perhaps you’d like to watch TV while you’re waiting. And you’ll have time to update your Twitter feed! You know, this date in December is so popular, it’s amazing we had any openings in the schedule at all. Fortunately, we can triple up on surgical staff during the day, now that we don’t have to arrange for nighttime obstetric coverage. So much easier on everyone this way!

“Joseph will be going in with you, but everyone else has to wait in the lounge. You’ll be out of the OR in an hour and out of recovery pretty soon afterwards.  Visitors can see the baby in the nursery after the pediatricians are done with him, or you can ask to have him brought back to you in your room. Remember he’ll have that alarm bracelet on, so you can’t just go and get him yourself. But the nursery staff will wheel him to the post-op—-sorry, post-partum—-ward whenever you want him. We have a live video feed on the nursery’s babycam, so you and your family can log in whenever you like.

“Oh, I see you’re high-risk, Mary. You should have told me! All our assisted-conception mothers are. Premium pregnancy, am I right? Egg donor or IVF? Will you be banking cord blood? That’s so important, I think, although it is a bit expensive.

“Here’s the doctor! We can take you for your C-section now. “