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December 3, 1982

Baby Blues

JAMA. 1982;248(21):2893. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330210073043

More than anything, it's the eyes that haunt you. All at once full of wonder, bewildered, yet somehow accusing. You can see almost anything you want in them if you look long enough. Trust perhaps? Or is it resignation? A glimmer of understanding that seems to vanish in an instant.

It's always the eyes you remember.

They lie in a sea of high-powered technology, some rocking gently on the water mattresses meant to simulate the womb from which they were thrust too fast, too soon, unprepared, and ill equipped. Small clenched fists not grasping rattles or brightly colored toys, but arterial lines and plastic tubing. Silent cries from babies whose first pacifier is an endotracheal tube.

This is the world of an infant intensive care unit, a fluorescent, timeless place where children cry without sound and lullabies are barely audible above the gentle whoosh of the ventilators and the rhythmic