Everything is backward here in the NICU. All of the parental instincts that would comfort you and nurture you are instead the things that will hurt you. Touching or kissing you will damage your skin. Peeking beneath the blanket that covers your incubator makes you uncomfortable. And were your mother to try to nurse you? Unconscionable. Your brain is so nascent that it interprets all of these gestures of love as painful invasions. As malicious. And so here in this place, all of the instincts we have been endowed by nature are now the enemy. Love is the enemy.
I feel guilty for just being here. It doesn’t help. I can only get in the way or be a distraction to the nurses and doctors. Parents that come here at such an early time in a baby’s life believe they are here for their baby, but that isn't really true. They are here for themselves. The same is true for me. I feel like some kind of emotional leech latched to your bedside, trying to satisfy my hunger for parenthood.
Fortunately, though you have been put in the custody of new parents for a time. Decades of accumulated knowledge has become your mother. The rigid instruments of science and medicine, your father. The cold hand of empiricism strokes your forehead.
I’m strangely okay with this. In a way, the unnatural seems natural. It takes billions of dollars and scores of scientists to send a probe to Mars, yet you are far more complex than some rocket or rover. You are human; your little brain is one of the most complex things in the Universe. If it takes so much to send a man made object to Mars, shouldn’t it take such careful training, such vast reservoirs of knowledge, to keep you alive?