Tuesday, May 29, 2007
In today's New York Times, Christine Hauser reports:
Kimberli Johnson’s baby was born much too soon, trading the serenity of the womb after 24 weeks of gestation for the chaotic world of a neonatal intensive care unit....
In the six months that Mrs. Johnson sat by Ellie’s isolette, she began to understand firsthand the jarring discrepancy between the aquatic nest that her daughter had left too early and the new environment into which she had been thrust and was now expected to grow.
Parents of other babies stopped and gawked. Alarms went off at adjacent isolettes. Monitors beeped, instruments clattered and lights glared. Sometimes, a wail of grief from parents learning of the death of their fragile baby added to the cacophony.
But after Ellie left the hospital, Mrs. Johnson used her experiences to join what has become a growing trend in the care of premature babies by helping design private rooms in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, that strive to replicate the qualities of the womb: its darkness, relative quiet and full entanglement with the mother’s biological rhythms.