Penn Badgley says his mother had to resuscitate him daily as a baby: ‘My heart and lungs would stop’

The ‘You’ actor shared how his childhood health condition influenced his perspective on parenthood

Meredith Clark
New York
Tuesday 24 January 2023 05:18 GMT
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Penn Badgley has opened up about the many health scares he experienced as a premature baby.

The You star recently appeared on an episode of the HypocondriActor podcast with Will and Grace actor Sean Hayes and Dr Priyanka Wali. Badgley, 36, revealed that he was born two months premature and, as a result, his mother needed to resuscitate him “multiple times a day” during the first year of his life.

“The first couple of weeks I was in a NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] because my heart and lungs would stop repeatedly throughout the day,” he explained on the podcast.

The Gossip Girl alum said that doctors had to regularly revive him just weeks after his birth. His mother had to also learn how to resuscitate the newborn once he left the hospital.

“[She had to do it] multiple times a day because my heart and lungs would stop, and I was on a monitor that would just beep very loudly,” Badgley shared. “The first time she had to do it was on the way home from the hospital when I was released from the NICU.”

Badgley added that his cousins would tell him stories about how they would revive him during this time by simply touching him.

“I would be in the back seat, you know, in a car seat hooked up to the monitor, and it would go off, and all anybody had to do is just touch me,” he said. “Just human touch would wake me up.”

Badgley, whose wife Domino Kirke is a doula, added that he’s “learned a lot” about prenatal and postpartum conditions because of his wife’s career. While the father of one said his health condition “faded away,” he still believes that his childhood health scares have impacted his perspective on death.

“The effect that it’s had on me at least in a sort of emotional way is that I’m extremely sensitive to touch, I’ve just noticed that in my life,” Badgley said. “Anytime anybody touches me, I’m just very aware of it.”

“Death doesn’t scare me, I feel like that sounds weird to say,” he continued. “There’s some aspect to that where I feel like there’s a gravity to the earliest experiences I, I can have a mode that is very solitary and meditative.”

Looking at his two-year-old son James, Badgley said that his childhood health scares may have had a bigger impact on him than he previously thought. “If my son, who I now know so well, was the first year of his life flatlining multiple times a day, the idea that that wouldn’t influence him is ridiculous,” he shared. “Thinking of my toddler now, I’m realising it actually did affect me. It affected my sense of what life is like, what life is not like.”

Penn Badgley and his wife Domino Kirke have been together since 2014, and were married at a New York City courthouse three years later. In 2020, the couple welcomed their first child together after Kirke had suffered from two miscarriages. The doula also shares 13-year-old son Cassius Riley with former partner and musician Morgan O’Kane.

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