I believe in life, in the small fingers and toes that test the cool air before their bodies are expelled from the warm uterine environment of their mothers. The vitality that babies bring to the world, born anywhere up to 4 months before their due dates, while under my watch are who I believe in. As they convalesce and heal amidst the compassion and dedication of their nurses, cacophony of alarms, fluid drips and ventilator breathes, I believe in the strength that they bring to the world and the love that their parents have for them.
It has been said that G-d lives in the details. Whether their parents are believers or whether the babies will someday believe themselves matter not. The moments of my initial contact may be some of the most important ones in their lives as I help them with the transition from the womb to the outside world. While the technical aspects of resuscitation and newborn intensive care may be routine for me, the experience for the family is always novel. Though attention to the baby’s vital signs and physiologic stabilization are essential, my mind wanders to places beyond her mere survival during quiet moments. My work with newborn babies enables me to visualize the newborn in all of us as I observe friends, colleagues and strangers. They were once this baby in front of me, and this baby for whom I care will be one of them one day. Images of her future appear before me as I see her smiling, laughing, running and hugging her parents as only a parent of a toddler can know.
Though an advocate for the baby, my purpose is also to reunite him with his family and make it whole. The spirit of the parents arises from a depth I will never know. For days, weeks and months they watch their baby, weighing anywhere from 1 ½ to 8 pounds, develop from a “fetus” attached to life support to a crying baby with needs bundled in a crib. Amidst set-backs that alternate with forward progress, his parents ride the roller coaster for better or for worse. I then realize that it is the unconditional love that a parent has for his/her child irregardless of the parent’s economic or social condition that reminds me of my mission. Whether a baby is responding to care, or requires withdrawal of life support, I believe that the life of the baby has meaning, whether it be for minutes, hours, days or a lifetime.
It is this, the delicate infant wrapped in love, in which I believe, who becomes a member of his family, and an inspiration for me to err on the side of life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.