For many women, having a great career while navigating the maze of motherhood seems like a far-fetched—almost impossible—idea. Many women feel they have to give up one dream to achieve the other. Neonatologist Susan Landers shares her engaging memoir, So Many Babies, a chronicle of her three decades’ worth of experience as a neonatologist and a mom of three, proving that having the best of both worlds is achievable.
Dr. Susan Landers is a neonatologist who raised three children while practicing medicine full-time. Spending most of her life within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), she witnessed many changes in neonatal care and high-risk obstetrics, such as artificial surfactant, high frequency ventilation, infertility treatments, and a surge of multiple births. She also witnessed moments of shared joy, love, and friendship between the NICU staff and parents as they worked together to navigate some of the most distressing periods of their sick babies’ lives.
Through her book, Dr. Landers takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions as she shares bittersweet memories of her time in the NICU caring for fragile, sick, preterm babies while also providing psychological support to worried parents. In her interview, she shared that she prefers to be honest with parents, and also to provide gentle encouragement.
“I tell them that this is the most stressful thing that will ever happen to them as a couple and that feeling overwhelmed is understandable. I advise them to be present in the NICU as much as possible, to touch and talk to their baby, to hold their baby skin-to-skin, and to ask a lot of questions,” she said.
Dr. Landers also shared in the book that although her practice greatly influenced her as a wife and mother, she is no superwoman. She shared her experience with a major depressive episode after having a baby at forty years of age. Like all mothers, her children tested her in many different ways throughout the years—the worst of which was an adolescent daughter’s eating disorder. Yet, through it all, she persisted. She found resilience and endurance, taking one step at a time, day by day, and she managed to postpone burnout until later in her career.
Each chapter of the fascinating and critically acclaimed memoir So Many Babies weaves together her motherhood experiences with stories of her professional challenges with a few terminally ill babies and quality improvement initiatives to evaluate clinical practice patterns and unnecessary complications. After a late-career advancement into breastfeeding medicine, she worked as a physician trainer for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is now retired and lives in Austin, TX. Her experience allowed her to gain perspective on her life as a physician and a mother, recognizing each as its virtuous endeavor. She wants to encourage other working mothers to strive to be an effective and caring parent while pursuing a high-stress career.
Since its publication, the book has met with positive reviews, one of which reads, “As a part-time pediatrician and mother, I’ve often struggled to find direct and uncensored mentorship about balancing parenting and navigating practice as a woman. 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.”To learn more about Dr. Susan Landers, MD and her memoir So Many Babies, visit her website. You can also check her on LinkedIn and Instagram.