[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 923
Citations 0
On My Mind
January 2017

Stayin’ Alive in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(1):11. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1526

While doing chest compressions on a 31-week-old newborn, I felt my own 31-week-old fetus kicking inside of me. Afterwards, I sat at a computer in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), timing my contractions and hoping that the next baby I would admit during my shift would not be my son. As a third-year pediatrics resident, I had enough knowledge of all the things that could go wrong to terrify me. Hours earlier, I stood at the bedside of that 31-week-old baby and I sized up how well she was faring to reassure myself about the progress of my pregnancy. After giving her CPR, I left the NICU unsure of her prognosis, which made me more fearful about the preterm contractions I was feeling. The babies I cared for in the NICU taught me the fragility of newborn life and how powerless parents and physicians can be in controlling it; yet as a physician and expectant mother, I kept trying to gain control.