In the 1400’s it was discovered that newborns have a soul. I am uncertain why it was necessary to document this, but at that point the field of neonatology was relatively unknown. I’ve walked into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit only once. It was a sobering experience. Everywhere there are clear white incubators and inside them small souls. Some babies lungs are not fully developed so they need assistance breathing from a ventilator. Some babies stomachs and intestines are not functioning, so nutrition is delivered through an IV. Other babies brains are not developed completely and cannot suck, swallow, or breathe in a coordinated fashion without choking. There are wires, tubes, iv’s everywhere in these babies. And around these small souls, is a circle of nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists, and doctors who encourage them to develop and grow, in hopes that they graduate somewhere into the world.
And that is where my husband comes in. He is one of the physicians who takes care of those premature sick babies. I want to say anyone can do his job, but I can’t. It isn’t just about the schooling, although it takes 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 3 years of pediatric training, and 3 years of fellowship training to become a neonatologist. It is the constant struggle of his day, death and life lurking in the shadows. Often he says to me, you can’t trust a sick premature neonate. The lines between why one survives and another doesn’t, is often too delicate to define. A baby who is ready to be discharged can be overcome by an infection, the anticipation of the road back to home sometimes, without warning, becomes planning for something unexpected. There are reasons why certain babies make it, while other’s don’t.
I think it is the constant teetering in between the crevices of life and death which makes my husband’s job complicated. At one moment he is praying with a family, calling a chaplain over to deliver last rights. The next hour, he could be discussing discharge instructions with parents, their newborn graduating to be a part of the world. The difficulty becomes being fully present in these two very different spectrums.
My husband has a huge responsibility. Trying to deal with a balance he doesn’t always understand, with grace and focus, and simultaneously offering hope in dire circumstances. I say it again, I don’t think anyone can do what he does.
*** Congratulations to my husband who is now a board-certified Neonatologist. A certificate to say he can officially shepherd these small souls.
Wow, that is truly an awesome accomplishment. Also a beautiful tribute that you’ve written to him.
My niece was born 6 weeks premature and it was almost physically painful to see her tied up to all those wires and tubes. I ached for my sister, not being able to hold her baby those first few days of her life. If it weren’t for people like your husband, who knows what would have happened; now she’s safe at home with her parents, growing and developing like any other baby. Neonatologists are heroes in my book. 🙂
So exciting, wonderful and scary all at the same time! This is really a lovely tribute to him. I work for the Canadian Paediatric Society, and a lot of the work we do is with and for neonatologists in Canada. It’s a wondrous and challenging profession indeed. Good luck to him and to you as you continue this journey.
A lovely tribute to your husband today, Rudri!
My son was nearly six weeks premature. We got to take him home though he weighed under 6 lbs. But after two weeks, he ended up in the NICU for not gaining sufficient weight. It was terrifying for me. Thanks to physicians such as your husband, I received the information I demanded to have daily and my son received the care he needed to thrive.
Congratulations to your husband, Rudri, and to you for giving him the support he needs.
This is exciting!! I think you know that I can relate COMPLETELY to this post. The sacrifices of time required for this specialization is something that is often overlooked.
My two youngest siblings were 9 weeks premature and were in the NICU for about that long. People with babies in the NICU become a family and the doctors are an important part of that bond. Congratulations to your husband.
Oh congratulations indeed to your husband. It must indeed be a complete roller coaster ride of emotions every single day, but then those moments when he does say goodbye to a family taking home their child, a child they thought would not survive, must be truly magical and worth all the not so wonderful moments.
Hi Rudri – This beautiful post gave me chills (and it’s almost 90 degrees here). Congratulations to your husband on his tremendous achievement. He must be a uniquely talented and sensitive person to take on this important line of work. Bravo to him for his commitment to our littlest soulful creatures!
Wow. A heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to your husband – and to you, for supporting him along the way. I’m always amazed at how long the journey is from student to doctor. The commitment is outstanding. And of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way – we want those treating us and our loved ones to be experts. But it’s amazing anyone sticks with it for so many years.
I can just imagine the many, many families he will impact in the coming years. What a gift.
What a harrowing job, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually … on all levels. I’m thankful he has the strength, compassion, and skill to “shepherd those small souls,” and I know the parents he works with are, too. Congratulations to your family!
So, so happy there are people like your husband caring for these tiny human beings! Congratulations to your husband! What an accomplishment!
Great post! It makes you really appreciate his field and what he has to deal with on a daily basis. Congrats, Ashish!
You’re are right. Not anyone can do that job, intelliectually, physically, or emotionally. Your husband has a gift. The sheparding of little souls, I like that description.
Congratulations to you and your family Rudri – you’re right, not everyone can do his job. And bless him for being one of those who can – much needed, and much, much appreciated I’m sure.
Kudos to him for his ability to “shepherd those small souls” – and to you for that beautiful description.
Congratulations to you and Ashish! It’s a tough job, and it is so important to have the love and support at home that you provide for him. It’s a great accomplishment for both of you.
Congratulations! I have a dear, dear friend who had twins very, very early. They spent months in a NICU. One made it, the other did not. Another good friend’s premie went home only to stop breathing and require a month’s treatment for RSV (she made it!). It is thanks to people like your husband that these darling little ones are with us. So, thank you.
Wow!! Only an amazing person could do this job.
Rudri, your description of what it must take to be present in these various moments was so insightful and thought-provoking – and “he can officially shepherd these small souls” is a lovely, lovely way to look at it.
That is such a HUGE, awesome accomplishment! It takes a very special kind of person for something like this. Congratulations, for sure!
This is wonderful. I can’t imagine what he deals with everyday.
A special man, your husband!
I am so happy to reconnect. I had such a difficult finding you again. Your Blogger information doesn’t list your website. Now I’m placing you on my blog role so I never loose you again.
So very proud of Jijo! Your words have portrayed him as encompassing a true gift and calling for his line of work. Truly inspiring!
Tell him thank you. It takes a very special person to do what he does. My eldest was one of those premies and now at 17 he towers over me at 6’5″ and will be graduating from high school in June. I thank the Lord every day that he was one that made it through.
Congrats to you on your high school senior. Often times, my husband’s patients return after being in the NICU. It really makes his day. Thanks for sharing this story about your son.