The first adventure

Each of us has a guardian angel. Some believe, some don’t. I am convinced that my guardian angel lives very close to me. The hard work we carry out every day within such an uncertain field as is mod- ern neonatology sometimes reaches beyond what our deep knowledge, skills, and talents actually are. We continuously need help, support, and divine inspiration. 

Very premature babies who are born, live briefly, and then die and who spend their fleeting lives in any NICU in the world are intensely loved, always deeply loved. This is why they remain in the NICU with us and survive for- ever, ignoring the passage of time. They can reassure us, endorse and support us, compel us to hang in there, and guide us when we lurch alongside or over the labile border, setting our secure foot in life, setting our hesitant foot in death. Each mother of these tiny and only seemingly lost babies has a privileged, noble, and worthy aim: they devote themselves to the effort of maintaining the multitude of guardian angels protecting micropreemies wherever they are in the world. 

It is very hard to explain, merely on the basis of scientific or logical elements, how it is possible that such tiny babies are able to ride through so many arduous battles, holding out and showing unwavering willpower to survive and, eventually, to live, and live well. And, again, it is hard to explain how their parents, who are suddenly deprived of the right to proclaim their pride and joy over becoming parents while simultaneously being thrown into the unknown and frightful world of the modern NICU, can stay on their feet, resisting proudly and courageously despite their inappropriate feelings, keeping the faith that their babies will never “throw in the towel.” These heroic parents come to realize that their love is as useful as the best avail- able therapies. 

In our modern, western society, like in our NICUs, there are atheists as well as believers (Catholics, Jews, Muslims, or members of any number of religious groups). Their emotional responses are the same as their babies’, always brave and fearless. Who can explain why a human life may be as long as a century or a mere instant? Birth, life, and death represent the depth and the mystery of nature, the true harmony of life. I am not sure, but deep down in my heart, if ever God had a beginning, I think that He was born prematurely.He was probably the first guardian angel of an iron- willed, proud generation that from time immemorial has nurtured hope and life in NICUs all over the world.

From “God was born prematurely”by Carlo Bellini, MD, PhD, NICU, G. Gaslini pediatric hospital.

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