In the United States, nearly half a million babies are admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, for various reasons, including prematurity. So to increase awareness about preterm births, or babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy, experts have dedicated November as National Prematurity Awareness Month. One great way for people to learn more about parents’ experience with a child in the NICU is to read the memoir written by seasoned neonatologist Dr. Susan Landers called So Many Babies.
The inspiring doctor aims to share the many stories she witnessed in her 34 years working as a physician taking care of sick babies. The book is multifaceted and provides people with an extensive understanding of what happens inside the NICU, not only to the children admitted but also to their parents, staff, and the medical professionals involved.
It chronicles how the practice of neonatology shaped and influenced Dr. Susan Landers’ life for more than three decades. The memoir talks about different cases like preterm babies, those with low birth weight, some multiple births, those who have a major congenital malformation, and other critical care scenarios.
But perhaps, what makes the book truly stand out is it shows a unique and crucial perspective from someone who is both a medical professional and a mother. When asked what the best part of her job was, Dr Susan Landers replied, “For me, the best thing was being an integral part of the babies’ survival and their family’s dreams. I enjoyed getting to know the families, the mothers especially. These parents went through such trauma giving birth to a sick or fragile child, and we grew to know and trust one another over the weeks and months their baby was in the NICU. I learned many life lessons from these parents. In my book, I tell stories of some special patients, most with long term NICU stays, and their parents, each who touched, motivated, and inspired me.”
She added, “My book relates stories of my learning how to be a good enough mother raising three children of my own while practicing full time. My hope is that my motherhood journey will be reassuring to other working mothers.”
On the other hand, she also discussed the downsides and challenges she went through. She shared, “The most challenging thing was working while physically and mentally exhausted, for example, enduring a grueling 24-hour-shift. Working in an environment with constant stress and noise can be nerve-wracking.”
But most importantly, the memoir shows that there is still beauty amidst struggles. It has wonderfully captured the stories of the close relationships NICU staff and parents develop during some of the most distressing times of a sick child’s life.
Moving forward, Dr Susan Landers wishes that her book will reach a wider audience and more people will learn about the realities of life in the NICU. Above all, she hopes that So Many Babies will inspire and give strength to the parents, especially the mothers of these children.