This is a scene early in the book. Toni is a main character, perhaps the main character.
Whatever she had expected, this wasn’t it. Toni started to relax as she stepped through the doors and smelled a remarkable simulation of fresh air. The light had the quality of sunlight; the walls were painted in light pastel colors. The small waiting room just inside the door had flowering plants, or maybe very good artificial ones, in the window sills. And the young male receptionist had blue hair. She might try that color when she got tired of pink.
She had thought they would immediately take her to wherever the procedure would be performed, but instead the receptionist summoned another young man to give her a tour. Not that the facility was all that large: a short wide corridor with large abstract photographs, streaks and blobs of fuzzy colored light; a larger waiting room with upholstered armchairs, and tablets for anyone who hadn’t brought one; more of the roomy and well-lighted corridors; and the large room full of incubators. She had expected metal, but their exteriors, at least, were something like plastic, their colors similar to the walls except a little richer. She could see hoses and control panels, the lights on the panels twinkling like Christmas trees. She frowned a little. “What if the power goes out?”
“Each incubator has a fully charged backup battery that can last for days, and we have three generators, all inspected weekly. Nothing’s going to happen to these little darlings. They’re safer than any of us, or any fetus a woman is carrying around.” Her guide opened the door to the room so she could hear the music playing inside. “Classical guitar right now, but we play all sorts of instrumental music, and some choral, and some pop. Nothing jangly or loud — we alternate soothing and upbeat.” He closed the door again and turned toward her. “Ready to get this done?”
There must be something else to see first. “What about the delivery rooms, and wherever the parents — the adoptive parents — get the babies?”
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t part of the tour. I’ll take you to the procedure room, then, shall I?”
She bit a treacherous lower lip and nodded.
The nurse who came in and gave her a gown — cloth, not paper, with abstracted flowers on it — may have thought she needed reassurance, or may have simply made the same speech to all comers. “It shouldn’t hurt a bit. Later on, you will have some soreness, but we’ll provide you with medication for it. We won’t have to put you out. We just spray your back, there —” She pointed near Toni’s spine. “— and you’ll start to feel very relaxed. We do everything we can to make you comfortable. You can watch, but most of our visitors choose to watch the ceiling instead. The controller’s right there next to the table.” The ceiling had a large screen, currently showing a series of nature photos. Some included animals, but none, Toni noticed, showed puppies or kittens or cubs.
“You already know that today’s services are free, right? And if you want a birth control implant, that’s free as well.”
Toni ground her teeth before she answered, “I guess I’d better. The shot doesn’t always work. I found that out. The implants are more foolproof, aren’t they?”
“Just about 100 percent. And if you get the shot also, I don’t know of anyone who’s conceived after both. And you can get the implant removed any time — though you’d have to pay a doctor for that — and get medicine to counteract the shot for good measure.”
Before she left to let Toni get changed, the nurse handed her a tablet “You’ll need to put your thumbprint at the bottom of the screen before the doctor gets started. The technicalities, you know.” She slid out the door, leaving Toni to make her way through the stilted official language. She would be giving up any “parental rights,” whatever those were. That made sense. She was giving up being a parent, letting someone better able to do the job raise her baby.
Her baby, except that by the time it was a baby, it would no longer be hers.
Maybe this was why they had people change into gowns. So they wouldn’t yield to any last-minute urge to run out the door.
The nurse came back in, hand out to receive the tablet, and a hypo-spray in her hand.