Occasionally- at any given time- a sweet-sounding, classic children's melody is played over the intercom system at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore for all to hear.
It is part of a new tradition at the hospital that acknowledges a joyous time for families: the arrival of their new bundle of joy.
In February, Sinai began playing Brahms' Lullaby to mark the delivery of a new baby at the hospital. The proud parents, while being escorted to Sinai's mother/baby unit from the labor and delivery unit, can pause to press a doorbell-like button installed in a hallway between the units to initiate a hospital-wide playing of the soft tune. The button is positioned low enough on the hallway wall for new moms being transported via wheelchair, moms being wheeled on a gurney after surgical birth (C-section), and small children (on behalf of mom and their new sibling) to reach.
With this new tradition, Sinai is "very sensitive" to mothers who endured complicated births and newborns with health issues, says Elizabeth Kenneally, interim director of the BirthPlace at Sinai. But Kenneally says for some families, initiating the playing of Brahms' Lullaby after coming through a complicated birth or other health scare is, while very emotional, very gratifying. She recalls one woman in particular who was very ill after giving birth. "Seeing her and her husband's face after pushing that bell made you want to cry tears of joy," Kenneally says. "That was just a huge thrill. The mom was all smiles and she got all teary. It was really meaningful."
One of the most famous and recognizable melodies in the world, used by countless parents to sing their babies to sleep, Brahms' Lullaby is a popular Jewish tune, having been incorporated into the "Bedtime Shema" (Sinai is a Jewish hospital).
"It universally signifies new life," Kenneally says. "It's just with respect and acknowledgment that someone has joined this world in which we live, and that's no small thing."