Brenda van Osch
The Unfinished Child
In search of the limits to early life
What to do with a baby which can fit on a sheet of A4 paper?
When Eva, first-born child of Dutch journalist Brenda van Osch, came into the world ten weeks early, she weighed 680 grams, less than a bag of sugar. At birth she was ‘red and slightly translucent, like a newborn rabbit,’ as Van Osch writes, ‘both unfinished and perfect.’ For months Eva struggled for her life in hospital. Once she eventually came home it gradually became clear that her development was severely delayed. She went to live in a home for children with severe disabilities when she was six.
Ten years later Van Osch decided to go back to an intensive care unit for premature babies to investigate the ethical dilemmas of both doctors and parents that she barely had had time to contemplate when Eva was born. How far do we want to go in saving children born far too soon? Should we always apply every medical option available? In *The Unfinished Child *she draws on her own experience, on a great many conversations with neonatologists and nurses and on interviews with other parents.
*The Unfinished Child *is an open-hearted, sincere and critical book, both investigative journalism and moving memoir. In a unique way it contributes to the international debate on when a premature baby
is viable and the many ethical dilemmas involved. The question of whether enabling Eva to live was the right decision is central to The Unfinished Child. Van Osch admits that no answer can be totally unambiguous. Had she known the outcome of her daughter’s life, would she and her husband have wanted all the medical aid available?
She is not sure. But now that Eva is part of her world, she loves her. ‘She’s there. She’s alive,’ is all she can conclude. Simple words that stand for a maelstrom of hope and fear, dilemmas and decisions, disappointments, blessings and confusion.