The first baby was born screaming.
It was a proper initiation for Arundel Medical Center's new women's health facility, which opened yesterday as the hospital closed its 93-year-old maternity ward in downtown Annapolis.
Carol Frazer beat out two other mothers in labor and gave birth at 2:35 p.m. to an as-yet-unnamed baby boy, who weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, with a little bit of hair and a lot of energy. He was the Rebecca M. Clatanoff Pavilion's first born.
"He is a real vigorous baby -- he came out screaming," said Dr. David Joyce, the Annapolis obstetrician who delivered the baby. "I think he wanted to make sure everybody could hear him. In case anybody else was coming close, he wanted to let them know he was first."
Across town, new mother Tracey Watson, 22, gave birth to the old ward's last baby at 8:12 a.m. yesterday. Some felt nostalgic about the moment, but the mother had other matters to consider. Ms. Watson, who weighed 100 pounds at the start of her pregnancy, was exhausted after her 14 hours of labor left her with a whopper of a baby.
"He's just so big," she said of Matthew Scott, who weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces. "I just can't believe it."
A television crew taped Ms. Watson with her baby in her hospital bed, and County Executive John G. Gary paid a visit.
The baby boy, who wore an Orioles sock hat over his full head of black hair, gurgled quietly while Ms. Watson and the father, Lester Spicer, 31, received flowers, a complimentary dinner and a $100 savings bond. A limousine was to take the three to their Severn home today.
Six babies were born at the hospital during its first year. That number grew to about 3,000 births a year.
Martin L. "Chip" Doordan, president of Anne Arundel Health System, parent company of the hospital and the Clatanoff center, sent a message on the hospital's computer system to all 2,000 employees heralding the arrival of the milestone babies. "This is a very sentimental day for us," he said.
Hospital staff members buzzed about the first baby at the new pavilion -- a favorite because his mother works at the medical center.
Dr. Joyce treated Ms. Frazer, already a week late, to help her deliver in two hours. The mother, an exercise physiologist in the cardiac rehabilitation unit, can tell her son he "opened" the women's center.
"We held out," a rosy-cheeked Ms. Frazer, 37, said from her hospital bed an hour after delivering. "We've been waiting."
To prepare for the opening of the $28 million Clatanoff Pavilion, off Jennifer Road in Annapolis, staffers worked through the night making beds and piling medical supplies into cabinets. The center was running by 8 a.m. Staff members milled through the halls in new teal-colored scrubs while a work crew repeatedly tested the baby-theft alarm.
The center is designed to feel homey and nonthreatening. Staffers call it a medical "hotel." Mothers will leave with a complimentary "Baby Talk" videotape and diaper bag.
The 22 rooms designed for labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum care have hardwood floors, big windows, soft lighting, peach-and-teal-bordered ceilings and reclining chairs.
Fetal heart monitors and stacks of gauze, intravenous tubing and sutures are hidden in cherry cabinets or stowed on wheeled carts outside the rooms. A small blue emergency button is next to the wooden headboard by the bed.
"Hospitals can be austere places," said Susan Edkins, the patient care coordinator for the new critical-care nursery. "This is what the public wants. I think it's more comforting, I really do."