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At the beginning, I could not help looking at the other babies in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). There are babies of all the colors - brown, yellow, red, black, white, pink, blue (yes, blue! but then you see the doctors running around like crazy). There are babies of all the shapes - pear, hourglass, beach ball, Play-Doh - and babies of all the voices too. And they’re all ugly, and they all stink, and they all suck, except Max & Manu. We really got lucky to have these two kids. They’re incredibly cute. They almost never cry. They listen to us with intense love and fascination. They almost always poop when we’re not there. Perfect kids, really. So no wonder I was looking around, trying to figure how the other parents could ever want their awful offspring to come home one day. But the nurses quickly stopped me: “Hey, you’re not supposed to look at the other babies!” Ok, ok… but it wasn’t for the reason you think. I wasn’t like staring at these things in dread or disgust. Actually, I was faking it as well as any nurse but it doesn’t matter, you’re not supposed to look.

The first reason is fairly obvious: avoid any negative reaction. They don’t want anybody to look at a 24-weeker and whisper in shock: “Oh my god, he’s so tiny!” when the mom is nearby not knowing if her kid is ever going to make it intact.

Then they don’t want anything that could raise any kind of suspicion, like “Her poop is so green, what are you feeding her?” or “His scrotum is huge! Are you sure it’s normal?”

They don’t want either of any instinctive reaction that could be meant as a compliment but perceived otherwise, like looking at a black kid and exclaim “What a cute little monkey!”

But they don’t even want genuine compliments or courteous socializing between parents. Imagine if a group of parents were gathering to see a charming baby taking her first bath, all laughing and congratulating each other… Well, then the 24-weeker’s mom would start lamenting “Boohoohoo, nobody ever comes to admire my baby!”

So only the nurses can go around and look at all the babies - and they pretty much all say that Max & Manu are the coolest and the cutest. We won’t disagree.

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