You have a preemie, you start a company, you're in a band

July 11 2015

1. It is the 23rd week and the doctor tells you that your baby won’t make it to 29 weeks. 29 weeks is where his odds of survival and against disability improve dramatically. You are shown charts with sharply climbing curves. You find where you are today. This week, the odds of bad outcomes are 80 or 90%. Next week, they are a little better, maybe only 70%.

You are asked: “Do you want to stay at the hospital? You can, but we may take the baby sooner.”
You are asked: “How ‘heroic’ should we be if there is no heartbeat at birth?”

You and your wife go home with your two older kids and Google these questions. You discover that these questions are hard to answer.

2. So you decide to start a company. You did once before and it turned out well, with a successful acquisition - maybe you can do it again? You call your new company Roobrik and start building tools to help people make complex, high-stakes, emotional decisions. You see both a need and an opportunity to focus on helping older adults and their families. There are hundreds of decisions, big and small, and you realize they are the hardest most people will ever have to make. It will be an honor, you decide, to one day help your parents have a good life, and on a more distant day, a good death.

3. Your band is called the Day Action Band. You have a 7” on Numero and release three full-length albums. When someone asks you where to start, you say go listen to “All Comes Down to This” all the way through, then maybe “Back of Your Car” because you always liked those songs. You put them all up on iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora years ago. You include this section because (a) like all musicians you expect that one day your back catalog will be discovered by musicologists and ebullient youth for its shabby brilliance and (b) you wonder if Listserve exposure will register on your quarterly digital reports.

4. Your baby was born at the beginning of week 26. He was 2 lbs, 2 oz, and lived in the NICU for two and a half months. He came home with an oxygen tank and got tiny plastic glasses. But he thrived, and at 4 he is healthy, as normal as any kid. You are grateful for this. For your good fortune and for good doctors, nurses, and science. When your blood type comes back, and they tell you that, good news, it's teeming with rare antibodies helpful to preemies, you make a quiet pledge to yourself.

Nate O’Keefe
[email protected]
Durham, NC

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