Nick Kelsh is a photographer, and artist and a good friend of mine. He is also spending a lot of time in hospitals these days. I asked him to send me a few pictures and some text about the experience:
My wife gave birth to a three month premature baby a month ago today. Teddy is doing beautifully and it certainly looks like we are over the hill.
As I sat for long hours in the NICU next to his incubator and other parents going through a wide variety of emotional experiences I couldn’t help but noticine what the place looked like and how it made me feel.
First of all, a premature baby ward looks a lot like the inside of a space ship. There are monitors on monitors and backups for everything. The beeping of these dozens of machine is non-stop. Instead of driving me crazy, though, all of the technology made me feel secure and thankful that my son was fortunate enough to have his life saved by machines and incredible human beings.
There were several photo montages on the walls of past patients sent in by their parents and those also made us feel good. When your baby weighs two and a half pounds it’s difficult to believe that one day he too may be sitting on Santa Claus’s lap in a department store. They gave us hope.
There was some cheesy art that looked like it had been given to the hospital by a drug company. They’d clearly been hanging for years and had turned a shade of blue and gave some corners of an otherwise amazing facility a drab and neglected feel.
I wouldn’t hang pictures of happy, smiling babies in a space where some of the babies look a little closer to E.T. than the Gerber baby. I would have resented seeing healthy babies above my poor, little guy.
I would have welcomed some nature photographs and I’m really not trying plug Henry’s work. Some big, bold colorful images would have gone a long way to enliven the place. I would personally have enjoyed them and I would have felt that in some way they would communicate to the little people in the room, too.
If I could make one major change to the NICU I would have done a ceiling of blue sky and clouds. When you’re holding your tiny, tiny baby for hours it’s a little like going to church and a reminder of God and nature would be welcomed and appreciated.
Nick is an expert on taking baby pictures.