By Susan Landers, MD

“So Many Babies” is the story of a neonatologist who raised three children while practicing medicine full-time. Neonatology is the intensive care of critically ill newborn infants. The author’s practice influenced her experience as a mother, and she thrived during her thirty-four years in the NICU. She found resilience and endurance, and managed to postpone burnout until late in her career. She witnessed many changes in neonatal medicine and high-risk obstetrics, such as infertility treatments and multiple births. The author illustrates her NICU experience with poignant life-and-death scenarios and tales of complex patients and their worried parents.

Together with her husband of thirty-eight years, she raised three children, one son and two daughters. Her story underscores the plight of a hard-working physician mother, one which is universal to all working mothers. She intended to be a perfect mother, but three small children and full-time work proved her otherwise. Each chapter weaves together her motherhood experiences with stories of her professional challenges. The benefits of participating in a “Healing the Healers” physician couples’ support group is described. She endured the trials of relocating to a new NICU and settling into a new city seven years into her career with three children under the age of seven.

Her experience with a major depressive episode after having a baby at forty years of age, is revealedIn later years, her children tested her in many different ways, the worst being a dog bite to the face of a three-year-old and an adolescent daughter’s eating disorder. Each maternal trial is illuminated along with the concomitant, unrelenting demands of work in the NICU. Leaving academic medicine lead to private neonatology practice in Austin, TX. This change produced new opportunities and a late career advancement into breastfeeding medicine. At the end of her career, the author is older and wiser, but very tired. She grew weary of suffering babies and became hardened to medical mistakes. She also grew intolerant of deviant clinical practice patterns and unnecessary complications. Her personal experience with burnout is illuminated, and some antidotes are offered. After retirement she gained perspective on her life as a physician and a mother, recognizing each as its own virtuous endeavor.

Praise

Kirkus Reviews commented “…the memoir as a whole will prove to be illuminating for anyone striving to be a caring and effective parent while pursuing a high-stress career.

Frank, insightful writing about neonatal medicine and being a parent.

Stephen Harrigan, author of “Big Wonderful Thing” and “Gates of the Alamo,” commented “So Many Babies is not just a peek behind the curtain at the miracles and heartbreak that take place in the NICU, it is also a frank and moving meditation on the human costs endured by the doctors and nurses entrusted with saving tiny lives.”

Louise Morse commented, “This is a good read for everyone who has an internal drive and desire to be the best at whatever it is they wish to engage in and having done so, to feel the deep pleasure from the good they have accomplished as well as the extreme fatigue and burnout from having devoted so much of their time, thoughts and actions to that end. In other words, having experienced life’s best and worst emotions at the deepest level, which is something most people who live a more mundane life do not have to live through or have the privilege of feeling.”

Kelly Fradin, MD, author of Parenting in a Pandemic: How to Help Your Family Through Covid-19 commented: “As a part-time pediatrician and mother, I’ve often struggled to find frank 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. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the moments when 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 found myself rooting for her success when she joined an all male private practice and had to advocate for her needs as a working parent. All parents can relate to how she coped with feelings of guilt and unease as she worked to help her children through common struggles (like moving a tween) and more difficult challenges (like learning disabilities and ADHD). I highly recommend the book for mothers looking for guidance and perspective on parenting.”

Mandy Vickers, RN commented:
“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.”
Michelle Jocson, a book blogger @Nurse_bookie, commented: “Dr. Landers memoir is about her career as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit physician, a mother to her three children, and a wife to another physician. It is balancing these roles that she shares her challenges and triumphs with her readers. This memoir is full of heart and a story of resilience for all women…..This book will be an inspiration to all women trying to balance the complexities of a family and a career.”

Rev. Tracey Beadle commented: “Engaging and relatable for women struggling to balance two passions: career and family. A beautiful peek into the life of a strong and determined woman balancing the challenges of her two greatest passions – motherhood and medicine. Her vulnerability makes it easy for working mothers to relate and find strength and encouragement for their own journey. Love the book!”

Samantha Smith, RN, MSN, NNP commented: “It needs to be voiced to all the mothers out there. Beautifully written about the balance of being a mother and a successful career with all of life’s challenges and joys. I really enjoy the personal NICU stories. Really love this book!”

Nancy Shepherd, MSN, LCSW wrote:
“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 I can’t wait for it to be published.”