Pain~I do not think it means what you think it means. was idly flipping through the latest issue of Parents when I came upon this:

For decades, doctors believed that babies didn’t feel pain, based on flawed studies showing that sleeping infants didn’t respond to light pinpricks. In fact, until the 1980s, many newborns who had heart surgery received no pain medication — they were only given paralytic drugs that forced them to lie completely still, though fully aware, as their chests were opened.

To which I say, WHAT??! Why is it that we need studies to tell us what should be perfectly, staggeringly obvious? As late as the 1980s!! We’re not talking the dark ages here. An appalling reminder that you can’t take anything for granted — it would never have even occurred to me that my baby wouldn’t receive anesthesia for surgery. He would now, but just 20 years ago…!

I was expecting innocuous articles on sharing and finger foods, and instead I’ll be forever haunted by the image of a baby strapped to an operating table, paralyzed, eyes open in horror, as his chest is cracked open.

But I can’t end a post with that, it’s just too awful, so here’s a poem from Lisa Russ Spaar’s collection, Satin Cash, that captures something of how I’m feeling right now:

You, with Gold Leaf

I grow impatient with spirit as alibi
despite each night, ecclesiastical,

more and more sky, the costal trees
in fierce defrayal,

fretting with kohl branches
the edges of the parking lot.

I stand by my car,
night a translucent, colostrum blue

of goodbye, & cocklebur Venus
reveals to me the truth

of your body as light source,
burning by mercy inside me still.

3 responses to “Pain~I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  1. OH MY WORD!!! This is horrifying! It always amazes me how advanced we think we are as a civilization until items like this pop up, from just thirty years ago! I can’t imagine what practices we’ll look back on thirty years from now in horror. Maybe putting your baby to sleep on its belly will be the new trend, and we’ll be shocked that people put their babies to sleep on their bellies. Or perhaps we’ll find a cure for the paralyzing and extremely stressful colic – something doctors say there’s no real remedy and no explanation. What?!?

  2. What??????????? I can’t believe what I just read. The vindictive side of me would like to gather the researchers and the surgeons and have them sliced open so they can experience this themselves. How could anyone ever do this???? Excuse me while I go hug my children….

  3. I was going to link to the article but it’s not online. I can’t imagine a practice more terrible.

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