• CPBF

Nurtured in the NICU: Breathe, Baby, Breathe

By Aaisha Shafique

As a parent in the NICU, we all wish for some emotional support, be it a person or even a manual that can guide us through this tough time. Breathe, Baby, Breathe, by Annie Janvier, retells her experience in the NICU as a parent of a preemie and the emotional turmoil that she faced throughout her NICU journey.

Annie Janvier is a neonatologist and a mother to a daughter, Violette, who was born prematurely at 24 weeks in 2005. Violette had less than 50% chance of survival when she was born and despite being a neonatologist herself and knowing all the medical terms and facts, Annie felt helpless against her own situation. Knowing how feeding tubes work and which wire leads to which machine was all useless knowledge in the wake of Violette’s birth. For once, Annie was on the other side of the tunnel she dealt with every day and she finally understood how the parents she talked to felt. Completely and utterly defeated.

“In medical school, they teach you the blunt facts on how to treat your patients, but you learn nothing on how to cope with the trauma you are left behind with.”


To help her emotionally stabilize herself, Annie began writing about her feelings on a word document while in the NICU with Violette. Fifteen years later, Annie has turned this written documentary into a tear jerking and emotionally supportive novel titled Breathe, Baby, Breathe.


This book contains not only her own story but interweaves other parents’ journeys into her own to showcase the different outcomes that may occur in the NICU. It also includes easy to read medical articles that provide parents with insights into premature birth.

When asked how her medical practice has changed after her own experience, Annie replied, “If parents do not understand something, I do not say ‘I recommend this…’ as I understand how they feel. Careful communication is key in my practice now.”


Doctors may know everything in relation to the medical knowledge, yet challenges are there when it comes to emotionally supporting their patients and this book is the first step to filling in that gap.


You can find Breathe, Baby, Breathe on Amazon or purchase it directly from the University of Toronto Press site linked here: https://utorontopress.com/ca/breathe-baby-breathe-4#


Nurtured in the NICU stories are created by the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation to highlight the wonderful work of doctors, nurses, and parent volunteers in Canada’s NICUs. For more information or if you would like to share an initiative happening in your NICU, please send us an email at info@cpbf-fbpc.org.


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