Daddy’s first lecture — the lighter side of prematurity

They say that parenting has lots of moments in which you want to grab your child and say “Don’t scare me like that!” And then your natural urge is to shout for a while. But, if you’re a modern, caring parent, or whatever, you’ll turn this in to a “teaching moment.”

Well, I like to think of myself as one of those advanced parents or whatever, so here’s how little Gabriel’s first “teaching moment” is going to go, just as soon as he can see and hear:

Gabriel, you are a mammal, not a marsupial. When you’re a marsupial, you can leave the uterus early and find a protected secondary environment in which to complete your growth. In kangaroos, for example, there is a mother’s pouch in which the baby kangaroo lives for quite a while.

Yes, it is true that medical technology has advanced a great deal and now allows human babies to survive if they enter the world too early, but, as I’m sure you’ve discovered from your time in the neonatal intensive care unit, it is neither easy nor comfortable.

This technology does not allow us to be marsupials if we want to. Your mother is a zookeeper, and I’m sure you gained all kinds of positive thoughts about the zoo animals by walking around the zoo. And, this is not to say anything bad about marsupials and the way they do things. The problem is with you. You’re a mammal. When you’re a mammal, you’re either in the womb, or not, and there’s no middle place to hang out for several months. In the womb, you get oxygen from liquid, out here, you get it from air, and it’s a very hard transition if you’re not ready. Now say you’re sorry and give Daddy a hug.

This is from our journals, when Gabriel was nine days old, or the gestational equivalent of 24 weeks.


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