Blood Relations

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Blood Relations

The driver unloads Vicky, our pregnant mom with the family that wouldn't wake up and could now be a fresh garden salad of vegetables. Vicky is screaming, because she's in labor, and I don't imagine the sensation of a baby trying to claw its way to daylight is a very pleasant one. I think the people who call childbirth a blessed miracle are ones that have had plenty, and I mean plenty of distance from the experience. Kind of like when you're in an airplane and you hit turbulence, and the plane jiggles and shakes, and you look outside and the wing seems mighty bendy indeed, and your knuckles turn white, and you freak out the person next to you by closing your eyes and breathing heavily in through the nose, out through the mouth -- yet when you arrive two hours later and someone asks how the flight was, you reply, "Oh, it was fine. Great landing." Carter wonders what's up with the others, and when he finds out that they were all unconscious, he correctly suspects carbon monoxide poisoning. Carter and Susan wheel Vicky inside, ceding Nolan's care to the just-arrived Pratt. Nolan is convulsing and his mouth is flapping open, all set for a chunky heave. "Oh, God. I have the worst feeling that something's going to come out of there," I wail to Lauren. But Nolan goes inside without vomitous incident, and I heave a sigh of relief. Malarkey and Abby trot out to treat the kids. "Feeling sick, dude?" Malarkey asks Clay, the boy. The show rewards its earlier restraint by turning the Vomit Comet switch to "bile" and shooting it out of little Clay's mouth and onto Malarkey's shoes. Well, we don't know for sure that's where it ended up, but I cling to whatever hope I can muster. The little girl only has a headache, so Malarkey swiftly assigns himself to her care and pawns Puke Boy off onto Abby.

Vicky's baby is crowning, and I turn my head away due to my fear of all things that require copious stretching of the vaginal cavity. To wit, the word "tear" is invoked, and I shudder. "I hate the word 'tear,'" Lauren whimpers. "This show is the most wonderful birth-control tool," I agree. Susan's in charge of the delivery, while Carter putters around and helps. Susan is brave. She's watching the exact rending of tissue and expulsion of oversized human matter that's going to happen to her in a few months, and she's not even joking about stitching herself shut to protect herself from it. Vicky seems fine, but wigs when Carter explains that they think her family has carbon monoxide poisoning, because it's common in winter when improperly vented heaters are cranked up high. Vicky doesn't understand why she didn't pass out, too. Neela gropes for the answer, runs it through her mental Jargonizer, and recites, "Fetal hemoglobin has a higher affinity for CO." Vicky's all, "Wha? Fertile hobgoblins hire infinity Theos?" Somewhere, Malcolm-Jamal Warner pumps his fist and calls his agent in gleeful anticipation of all that work. Susan sighs that Neela really needs to speak English to the patients. "Sorry," Neela gulps. "Don't apologize, just explain," says Susan curtly, clarifying for Vicky that the baby's blood greedily shoplifted the carbon monoxide, thereby leaving very little of it for her bloodstream. Hooray for Vicky, but boo for her child, which will pop out of the womb feeling like it's spent the last several hours romancing the exhaust pipe on their minivan.

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