1. Catlin, Anita DNSc, FNP, FAAN

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By: Tawna L. Burton


Soul Solutions, LLC $15.00


This book is a good read for anyone who works with parents in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It is a mother's report on her journey through a very intense 5 months in the NICU with her 22-week-gestation infant. It is a book that thrilled me and kept me riveted. It is also a book that, as a secular ethicist, bothered me a great deal. Tawna Burton definitely has a way with words. There were passages in the book that the parent of any sick child, anywhere, can relate to. She is able to record the experience of having a critically ill child with directness that I have not read before.


Here is a description of her entrance to the NICU to see her 1-week-old infant:


I had never been so miserable on every level and dimension. I wanted to be unconscious. I wanted relief from the ever-mounting pain of milk that would not drop. I wanted my baby to be healthy and home. I wanted to be with my other 4 kids and participate in their lives. I wanted my husband. I wanted to feel hope and a sense of the future again. I wanted to have this gaping hole in my heart repaired. I wanted to stop feeling. I wanted to be able to feel again. I wanted the knot in the pit of my stomach to go away. I wanted to be able to take a breath in the morning, without worry, on the verge of sheer panic, gripping me in its vice-like, cold grasp. I wanted never to leave my home again. I wanted to be able to stay at the hospital so I could be near her all the time. I wanted to sleep constantly. I wanted not to dream the exhausting dreams that plagued me every time I did. I wanted to feel rested. I wanted the constant nagging in my brain to stop. I wanted to feel hope that things could be "the same" again. I wanted to know how this was going to go and how I was going to get through it. I wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I just didn't.


The title of the book-Delivery to Deliverance-gives a hint of what I found disturbing. The book is based on the faith that God would get her through this journey, and that the same God would save her child. As I read, I thought about all the hundreds of premature infants who do not live and whose parents do not take home a healthy child. It made me wonder how such parents would feel reading this book. Would it mean that God loved them less? I actually called the author, Tawna Burton, and asked her this question. I asked her how she would answer a question from a parent whose preemie did not survive. She thoughtfully considered my question and stated that "Faith would also have carried me through the loss, and I would have benefited from lessons of the journey."


The other complexity of the story is that it is about a 22 weeker. Most neonatal nurses in 2012 shiver when they read of 22-week-old infants receiving the full resuscitation and life support. Perhaps this will someday be the norm. But for now, statistics remain high for morbidity and mortality at this age. We are training and teaching about perinatal palliative care for such premature infants. This is the story of that 1-in-a-million child who grows up nearly intact from an abbreviated gestation. Whether it was from God, an excellent medical and nursing staff, or simply luck, Tawna Burton captivates you with her tale.


There are passages in this book that are some of the best writings I have ever read. I recommend the book highly and prepare you to find it as troubling as I did in implications for 22-week-old infants whose parents are steeped in their faith that the child will survive. The story of Makeena Burton and her family is well written. I loved reading it and am sorry I read it. Go figure...