Read an Excerpt
The Premature Baby Book
By William Sears Robert Sears James Sears Martha Sears
Little, BrownCopyright © 2004 William Sears and Martha Sears
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA WORD FROM DR. BILL
Early in my pediatric career I had the privilege of being a "preemie doctor." After spending five months as a resident in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the largest children's hospital in the world, I went on to become an associate ward chief in this NICU, a position I held for the next four years. In the mornings, I would supervise and teach pediatric interns and residents in the NICU, and in the afternoon, I would see many of the NICU "graduates" in my office for routine pediatric care. I enjoyed the best of both worlds as a pediatrician: the medical challenges of the high-tech NICU, and the fun of watching babies grow up in a general pediatric practice.
An exciting change from when I worked in the NICU in the 1970s is the amazing survival of younger and smaller preemies today. I remember we used to give a 3-pound preemie only a 50 percent chance of survival, and a 1-or 2-pound preemie had an even grimmer prognosis. Now I am excited to see virtually all "3-pounders" thrive, most without any long-term complications, and more than half of 1-pound preemies survive. Modern neonatology care is nothing short of miraculous. While it has been many years since I was the doctor in charge of hospitalized preemies, I have continued to care for NICU graduates in my office. Working together, my sons, Dr. Jim and Dr. Bob, who are now my partners in the Sears Family Pediatric Practice, my wife, Martha, who as a lactation consultant has helped many mothers work through the challenges of breastfeeding a preemie, and I have learned what helps parents of preemies and their babies thrive. Not only do we enjoy watching the babies grow, but we also find it very rewarding to watch the parents grow to become capable, sensitive caregivers.
After years of observing babies and parents together, we have come to believe that the need level phenomenon is at work in special ways in parents of preemies. Every baby is born with certain needs. Some babies, especially preemies, have greater and more complex needs than other babies have. Premature infants needed more time in the womb but didn't get it. So they need more care outside the womb to make up for lost time. When parents are given accurate information and are empowered with parenting tools that nurture their attachment to their baby, their caregiving skills rise to a higher level, a level that matches the higher need level of their preemie. As a result, parents and their preemies bring out the best in one another.
Throughout the first few weeks or even months of your preemie's life, you may feel overwhelmed by the high-tech medical care. All the machines and medicines will help make it possible for you to take a healthy baby home from the hospital, but they may leave you feeling like an outsider, not a parent. For your own sake and that of your baby, you need to get involved in your preemie's care. Yet there will be times when you don't want to be "part of the medical team" or to become a wizard in medical technology. You just want to be the best mother or father you can be for your baby. While the medical team can take care of baby's physical needs, it's up to you to make it possible for your baby to thrive. "Thriving" means not only growing by getting heavier and taller, it means growing physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
When we were interviewing parents of preemies about what they felt a book on caring for their baby should contain, we frequently heard, "I'm tired of books telling me everything that can go wrong!" Instead, we have taken a positive approach. The Premature Baby Book focuses on what parents can do to lessen the chances of things going wrong. Throughout the book you will find helpful tips, shared feelings, and lessons learned from parents who have been there before you. Their words appear in short italicized sections.
Because of advances in neonatal care, nowadays most preemies survive and grow. Yet, whether or not your baby thrives depends not only on the medical care but also on the special care you provide. What helps babies thrive? Interaction with other human beings. You nurture your baby with your milk, your eyes, your voice, your skin, your touch, your love. Others may have the special knowledge to help your baby overcome medical challenges, but you are the person most dedicated to giving your special baby a special kind of parenting. Let's get started!
Excerpted from The Premature Baby Book by William Sears Robert Sears James Sears Martha Sears Copyright © 2004 by William Sears and Martha Sears. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.