No parent is ever fully prepared for the idea of their baby requiring care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. While most babies cared for in the NICU survive, thrive, and eventually go home to be with their families, there are other cases where parents are faced with life-and-death choices. These cases usually involve babies who are born extremely premature or those with inoperable birth defects. The experience is both traumatic and stressful for parents. Neonatologist Dr. Susan Landers shares the awe-inspiring NICU stories she has experienced in her 34-year medical practice in her new book So Many Babies, a very helpful and informative read for all expectant mothers.
In the book, she describes how she managed to survive and thrive throughout her lengthy NICU practice and how she developed resilience and endurance without succumbing to burnout. The book also reveals many technological changes that she has witnessed and used firsthand in caring for neonatal cases and high-risk obstetrical patients, including multiple births and infertility treatments. Through So Many Babies, Dr. Susan Landers is also able to share the priceless stories of babies and their parents who touched her life immensely.
The book is also, in part, about Dr. Susan Landers’ personal journey as a mother of three children, while she worked full-time to save the babies in her care at the same time. “My hope is that my motherhood journey will be reassuring to other working mothers,” she revealed. “I think that other working mothers, especially career moms, who are trying to figure out how to balance work and mothering, will find my book helpful. I made plenty of mistakes along the way. If I can do it, so can they.”
Parents whose child requires NICU care go through a lot of pain throughout the ordeal. Quite often, they are shocked and overwhelmed at how to go about the experience. Some mothers experience guilt, feeling that the early delivery was somehow their fault.
“I tell them that this is the worst thing that will ever happen to them, that feeling overwhelmed is understandable,” Dr. Susan Landers shared. “I advise them to be present in the NICU as much as possible, to touch and talk to their baby, and hold their baby skin-to-skin as soon as the infant is stable. This is more difficult if they have another child at home or live far away from the hospital. I suggest that they write things down, especially things they look up on the internet, which will be confusing.”
In many cases, caring for a child in NICU can take its toll on both parents, even their marriage. “This experience will be the most difficult time they ever experience. The helplessness they feel is to be expected, but excruciating, nevertheless,” Dr. Susan Landers added. “I would tell them to take care of themselves and their marriage while their baby is in the NICU. NICU stays can be very traumatic for families and marriages.”
So Many Babies is a collective testimony of strength, hope, and victory over one of life’s greatest challenges—seeing a newborn baby suffer and not knowing whether he or she will make it. Just as it reveals the sad and gripping truth about many neonatal cases today, it also delivers a message of hope, a light in a dark path that will lead parents towards a better understanding of their experience in NICU and how best to cope with that same event. Through her book, Dr. Susan Landers hopes to be a source of inspiration for expectant parents who are preparing for the birth of a premature newborn.