Three places I never ever EVER expected to be in this lifetime:

A) Sharing a bag of pork rinds with Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace.

B) On the pitchers mound of Citizen’s Bank Park, World Series Game 7, Bottom of the ninth, two out….

C) Touring a maternity ward as a 50 year old guy with my pregnant wife.

And yet there we were last weekend at our local hospital, St. Mary’s, getting the lay of the land. Preggo Land, that is. I can report that not a whole lot has changed in baby-delivering technology or aesthetics in the past 14 years, or so it appears to me.

(A long aside:  I was about to refer to myself in the sentence above as…this expectant Dad. But that’s not right. That’s not my title here. I’m neither the Dad. Nor am I expectant.

So as I’m typing this, I ask Michelle across the room: What the hell am I. Her response.

“You’re my… Labor Coach. My Number One Supporter. My Number One Cheerleader,” she said. Obviously she’s having a hard time coming up with my role.

“You are….making sure the job gets done. You’re seeing this to the end! You’re…..” She gave up. Gotta come up with something. And soon!)

Back to the tour: Michelle and I inspected the place on a recent Saturday afternoon. St Mary’s is about 5 minutes down the road from us and was the obvious choice for the big event. The hospital gives tours only once a week, so we were herded through the rooms with two other Moms-to-be and their entourage. All of us looked a bit weary, especially the rotund females. All of them, including Michelle, looked like they were ready to drop their loads right then and there.

While the facility itself seems a little dated, the attentive staff members we met more than compensated for a less than state-of the-art feel of the place. They happily answered every question tossed their way, including my wife’s one and only question:

“Is alcohol allowed in the delivery room?” 

For the past few weeks, Michelle has been focusing on getting through the rigors of labor by visualizing having a glass of very good champaign after the deed is done. “None of the cheap crap,” she’s told me. “No ‘Andre’ or ‘Cold Duck'”.

If that’s how she keeps her eye on the prize….so be it.

For the record, Michelle got the anwer she was looking for.  The nurses on duty said champaign would be fine….”as long as you share with us.”

It was a pretty brief tour — the materity ward was almost full up that weekend. Everything seemed ultra organized and arranged in logical way, with the birthing rooms just steps away from the NICU, C-Section Operating Rooms, and just a short walk to the Post Delivery rooms and, finally, the  nursery.

It was at that final stop that I’ll remember most about this Saturday afternoon. The nursery was almost empty — all the babies had been taken to be with their Moms. But there was one tiny little child still in the unit, and the nurse on duty rolled her over to the windows for the group to view.

I looked over to see Michelle’s eyes welling up with tears.

Uh oh.