Tuesday, June 07, 2005

We have noted here the overwhelming abundance of pregnancy-related plot tangents in movies, but I've found that prematurity also pops onto my radar more frequently these days. Was it always there and I'm just now more conditioned to notice?

The latest example is an insert that seems to be in every magazine I've read in the past couple of weeks (as a still wet-behind-the-ears business editor, I read a lot of business magazines so I can at least sound like I know what I'm talking about). The insert is from Philips, touting its "Simplicity Advisory Board." Philips makes electronics of various sorts, and, thanks to this insert, I'm reminded that they make medical equipment as well, including neonatal monitors, designed with simplicity in mind, I guess. There on a full page is a big photo of a tiny hand reaching up to grab a mother's finger; below it is the tag line: "What if the hardest day of your life was the first?" Next to it is a picture of a monitor similar to the one we stared at for hours on end in Will's room, alternately cheering good numbers and worrying over bad ones.

Never mind the fact that Will's very own Philips monitor frequently acted up -- not in a way that ever compromised his care, but it certainly vexed his nurses who had trouble with it -- it is amazing to me that this was seen as a valuable way to market the company. Is this directed at people who might have a premature baby, people who should call the NICU and make sure they have Philips brand monitors, as if there is any planning or choice in any of this? Or are they simply letting you know that their products are so reliable that even this most delicate of tasks is entrusted to them? I do find myself shaking my head at the real "simplicity" here, as they talk about how "sometimes a mother's wedding ring can fit around (the baby's) wrist" or that the monitors are vital for "those first critical days." How quaint. Will could wear my wedding ring around his thigh when he was born, and you could replace "those first" in the latter statement with "all" to describe the days that were critical in Will's life.

It's just further proof that we might as well get used to reminders of Will's struggle in the most unlikely places. We have avoided films with obvious hot buttons, and haven't lined up for any baby showers lately, but overall we haven't exactly shielded ourselves from public contact. So, things like this are going to lurk out there, and at times they're going to hurt. I know I will be asked at some point if I have children and wonder about the proper response. I know I will see a toddler running around and wonder "what if?" and I know I'll probably be in a hospital again at some point, see a monitor and remember why I understand exactly what all of those numbers mean.


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