An update on Juniper French, a tiny baby, born at 23 Weeks and 6 days -- roughly halfway to full term. And a whole universe of medical and moral questions.
Technology has had a profound effect on how we get pregnant, give birth, and think about life and death. The decision to become parents was not an easy one for Kelley and Tom. Even after they sorted out their relationship issues and hopes for the future, getting pregnant wasn't easy. But, thanks to a lot of technology, they found a way to a baby. Then, about halfway through the pregnancy, the trouble began. Neonatal nurse practitioner Diane Loisel describes helping Kelley and Tom make the most important decision of their lives. And Nita Farahany helps Jad and Robert understand the significance of viability, and how technology has influenced its meaning...making a difficult idea even harder to pin down.
Kelley and Tom had hoped that meeting their daughter would be the happiest moment of their life. But when she came early -- at just 23 weeks and 6 days, that moment was full of terror and an impossibly difficult decision. And when the time came to face it, Tom and Kelley turned to their baby for help. Seeing their daughter for the first time, they looked for her to "declare herself." That's a phrase that comes up again and again to help guide decisions in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. But parents and medical professionals have very different ideas about what the phrase really means. Nurse Tracy Hullet and Neonatologist Keith Barrington describe the difficulty of interpreting the fuzzy boundary between a baby's strength of will, and simple physiology. Meanwhile Kelley and Tom are left to wonder, and wait.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, is a land of emotional and medical limbo. Kelley, Tom, and their daughter Juniper got stranded in this limbo for months, fighting to survive, and finally get to the next chapter of their lives. Their doctor, Fauzia Shakeel, describes the moment when Juniper's life hung in the balance, and Keith Barrington helps us understand how our newest technologies open the door not only to hope, but also to a pain that we, as humans, have kept hidden for most of our history.
And finally, Kelley, Tom, Nita Farahany and Juniper herself, nearly 5 years old, give us an update on her life and what has happened since our story originally aired.
Juniper and Kelley
(Photo Credit: Kelley Benham)