“The baby had what?! I didn’t think that was possible.”

“Oh yes, we see it all the time with the preemies. Their intestines are outside of their bodies when they are born, and then they undergo an operation to put them back in.”

And then, I knew. I wanted to help these little babies, all 47 of them — twice the number the hospital was staffed for — lying still and silent within the Tufts Medical Center hospital in Boston, and everywhere else in the world.

They all looked helpless — some on ventilators, others with countless, small plastic tubes coming out of them. Most of them could not vocalize their pain though they were undoubtedly experiencing it. Smaller than a demi-loaf of bread, with their entire futures ahead of them, these babies needed hope and that was all I could give them.

I was not a doctor, a nurse or a technician. I was just an observer, a job-shadower. Though, after 15 minutes of walking and talking to all the babies, who likely could not see or hear me, all I wanted was a set of scrubs and a stethoscope. They did nothing wrong to deserve this uncertain life, and it is my goal to remove the uncertainty, someday, when I am a neonatologist.

Experiencing a day in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opened my eyes to true love. Since Tufts Medical Center is an inner-city hospital, a majority of the babies come from unstable, dangerous homes. Many of their parents rarely visit them, yet there is the feeling of so much love.

The small staff of nurses, each with about three babies to look after, talks about the babies as if they are their own.

“Look at her! She’s smiling! She’s smiling!” One of nurses exclaimed as we were monitoring vitals.

The nurse told me the baby had been under their care since she was only 24 weeks in gestation. “Now she’s going home. She did it, she made it and now her pretty little face is leaving us,” the nurse said.

The nurses and doctors were the proud parents the babies were lacking. And, amazingly, the nurses were happy to talk about every baby at length, even though many of them were working double shifts and long hours to accommodate their over-crowded ward. They never tired talking about “their” babies.

Giving unconditional love is a difficult endeavor. It is easy to get lost in life and forget about everyone else. But spending time with the premature babies in Tufts, to whom I could honestly only give my love to since I was qualified to do nothing more, was a humbling experience. I realized the importance of love in not only relationships but also in professions and any venture one tackles.

I have been fortunate in life to be surrounded by support and love for every choice and accomplishment I have made, and perhaps that is why I want to give it to others.

It is my turn to help and offer the love others gave to me to those who need it — to get excited when three pounds of life smiles or burps, but most importantly, to know that I am making the uncertain lives of preemies more certain and to provide them the future they deserve.

— Paige Pearcy is an LSA sophomore and Daily Staff Reporter for the Michigan Daily

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