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The cry of a newborn

A distinctive sound in the fifth-floor nursery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

It’s a Friday morning in the labor and delivery ward at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Sunlight streams into the fifth-floor nursery, where half a dozen bundles lie in portable steel bassinets, a pink or blue cap on their newborn heads. If you have to come out of the womb — and, really, who doesn’t? — this isn’t a bad place to do it, with a brigade of attentive nurses, Magic 106.7 playing softly on a boombox, and picture windows offering expansive views of the big, wide world. The popular image of hospital nurseries — dozens of babies packed dormitory-style into a cavernous room — is somewhat outmoded; newborns these days are often with their parents. But babies are still brought here for tests, procedures, and such, their haggard parents sometimes keeping watch from the hallways. Inside, and elsewhere on the floor, one hears the distinctive, urgent cries of newborns. Nurses soothe them tenderly with a pat, a swaddle, or a finger to suck on. Soon enough, the mothers will take over. And in time, on Mother’s Day and many others, these babies will come to appreciate those mothers.

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