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Neonatologist Susan Landers, MD Shares in Memoir the Traumatic Life & Death Choices Parents Face When Their Sick or Premature Baby Needs the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
In the United States nearly half a million babies are born preterm (before 37-weeks of pregnancy), have an illness, low birth weight (under 5.5 pounds), a multiple (twin/triplet), a major congenital malformation, or other critical care scenarios when admitted to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Many of these children receive care and recover with the help of neonatologists and other specialists, and eventually leave the unit as healthy, thriving babies. However, for other babies who are extremely premature or those with an inoperable birth defect, there are traumatic and stressful times for parents – especially the moms – who are confronted with life and death choices for their babies.
In So Many Babies, Neonatologist Susan Landers, MD, shares the stories of the close relationships that NICU staff and parents develop during some of the most distressing times of their sick child(ren)’s lives. In addition, Dr. Landers’ memoir describes how the practice of neonatology shaped and influenced her life experience. (So Many Babies: My Life Balancing A Busy Medical Career & Motherhood; publication date: May 4, 2021 eBook ISBN 978-1-63195-451-1 $17.95 /September 14, 2021 Paperback, ISBN 978-1-63195-450-4 $17.95)
As a neonatologist for over thirty-five years and a mother to three of her own children, Dr. Landers describes how the full-time practice of neonatology influenced her experience as a mother. As a neonatologist, she survived and thrived during a lengthy NICU practice, and she relates her experiences of finding resilience and endurance, managing to postpone burnout until late in her career. The book describes many technological changes that she witnessed over decades in neonatal medicine and high-risk obstetrics, such as infertility treatments and multiple births. Also, her experience in the NICU is illustrated by many poignant life-and-death scenarios, including stories about complex, critically ill patients, and their worried parents, each one touching her life.
In So Many Babies, Dr. Landers discusses:
• Working in the NICU and the roles of various specialists who helped care for critically ill babies.
• Heart wrenching stories of babies who did not survive and how their parents continued.
• When physicians disagree about treatment decisions that affect the quality of life for a child.
• The roles of doctor’s counsel and parental wishes.
• The high costs of infertility and multiple births.
• The toughest clinical cases that provided challenging ethical dilemmas.
• Moms feeling guilt after having a preterm baby, after losing a baby, experiencing post-partum depression, and enduring other extreme stresses in the NICU.
• Vulnerable Child Syndrome and divorce rates among parents of NICU survivors.
• Advocacy for breastfeeding medicine and donor human milk banks.
• Physician burnout – with a warning for women in the medical field and tips for prevention.
• Every mother’s desire: to be a “good enough” mother.
• The American Mother Culture – can women ever REALLY have it all without motherhood guilt in their careers.
• And so much more …
Connect with Susan Landers, MD directly at
Susan Landers, MD
Dr. Susan Landers is a neonatologist, which is a pediatrician with extra training in the care of sick and premature babies. Her first book, So Many Babies will be published in May 2021. After attending Auburn University, in Auburn, Alabama, Dr. Landers graduated in 1973 and received two BS degrees, in Biology and Chemistry. Dr. Landers attended medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina. After completing medical school, she completed three years of pediatric residency training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. Next, she completed three years of neonatology fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine affiliated hospitals, in Houston, Texas. Dr. Landers practiced academic neonatology for fourteen years and private practice neonatology for eighteen years. While caring for patients full-time in private practice, she served as a speaker for the Texas Department of State Health Services. She was the Medical Director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin and served on the milk bank’s board of directors. Additionally, she served on the Executive Committee of the Section on Breastfeeding for the AAP. Together with her husband, Dr. Phillip Berry, she raised three children, one son and two daughters. Her family resides in Austin TX.
A Note From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR SUSAN LANDERS, MD
I found Dr. Landers’ book full of excellent anecdotes and ripe with the valuable perspective of a working mother who has seen her children through all sorts of ups and downs…. Dr. Landers was deeply affected by her work as a neonatologist such as her awareness that it could have been her child with the congenital heart defect. I highly recommend the book for mothers looking for guidance and perspective on parenting.
---Kelly Fradin, MD, author of Parenting in a Pandemic
I can’t say enough wonderful things about Dr. Landers. When I started as a NICU RN 20+ years ago I was already impressed with her and scared of her. In time, I have come to realize the barriers she had overcome and what all she truly had accomplished. She was the first female neonatologist is a sea of men. She had a reputation for being blunt and aggressive. The following are traits I have come to love and appreciate about Susan – even though I was not able to fully appreciate as a young nurse. This is what I know now: She is a trail blazer. She is passionate about all the important things to women – equality, motherhood, friendship, and work/life balance. She sacrificed so that women following in her footsteps could thrive. I respect her. I love her. I listen to her. I appreciate her. And I am grateful she continues to share her hard-fought wisdom and truth with the world – especially with working women and moms. --Mandy Vickers, RN
The reality is that in real life, Dr. Landers had to compartmentalize the mothering part from the doctoring part, which is something that she was required to do over her professional career. It is interesting to note that I could tell a very different Susan as she was moving through these different compartments in the book. Does that make sense? And again, there is no way to separate both parts of her life because they each had their own significance. She did a really nice job talking about her upbringing and particularly being a child of the South. This had a profound impact on her as an adult, and that resonated with me. I so appreciated her frankness and honesty in talking about her marriage and talking about her kids. I think when you’re an accomplished professional as she was (and as I like to think that I am) I think it’s challenging to be transparent about that. One of the things that has worked in my practice and has been frankly healing for me is admitting to other moms especially moms of adult children that we all do the best that we can and to remember that it’s important to give grace to ourselves. It is always amazing that, while we are kind and accommodating to other people, we don’t always give that back to ourselves. Anyway, I loved her book -- Nancy Shepherd, MSN, LCSW
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