The midday sun gleams through the windows and fills the maternity ward at Saint Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey. Casting grey shadows onto illuminated white surfaces, the sunlight is just one element of obvious contrast to be seen. All that separates new life from the matured is a cool glass partition, marked with four dewy halos of breath from the open mouths of family members. Few things are more hypnotizing and beautiful than peering into a room filled with newborn babies.
Rows of clear plastic pods present the infants; each tilted forward slightly like delicate gems on velvet stands in a storefront window display. Pink and blue blankets cocoon the babies and are the only indication of gender among these unisex faces. The overhead lighting casts an icy hue that gives the impression that the room is cold, but rouged lips and flushed skin prove otherwise.
The babies’ overall appearance is foreign and new. They seem alien, with their bizarre, jerky movements and constant jittering. Small hands with widespread fingers wave aimlessly through the air, grasping at nothing in particular. Cloudy grey-blue eyes seem to be fixated on something far off, as if having the ability to see through the walls and connect with the unknown.
A sheath of fine, luminous hair sweeps over foreheads and ears, giving a velvety appearance to these features. Soft, unmarked skin peaks out from the blankets; rose colored and puffy, especially around the eyes. Tiny mouths open and close at random revealing smooth pink gums, uninterrupted by teeth. The sight of something so pure and feeble manages to overpower all sense of sound, deafening the noises of the reception desk and nearby elevator mechanics.
How many other people have looked through this pane of glass, completely entranced by something so premature? Even the disheartened can’t help but become charmed by these dewy-eyed bundles of life. As visiting hours come to a close, any evidence of a clear answer is erased as fingerprints are wiped clean from the glass.