Thesis student, Alex Kopec, is documenting the fight for life of the tiny premature newborns who go into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as soon as they’re born.
After completing The Artificial Womb, a 10-minute documentary about the intensity surrounding newborn babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood NJ, I felt there was much more to be said. I decided to expand it as my thesis project, and in the beginning of September, I started approaching parents whose babies were in the NICU.
Not every baby born has what we think of as the typical newborn experience. The reality is that many newborns face unexpected, unwelcome complications, and are admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Their families are consumed by their babies’ struggle for life.
For me, this has been a life-changing journey and I have a newfound appreciation for the wonderful nurses and doctors who do everything they can to keep these babies alive, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My mother is a NICU nurse, and has been my entire life. Whenever she left to go to work, that is really all that crossed my mind, “mom is going to work”. However, getting involved in this documentary has changed that statement for me drastically. It is no longer “mom is going to work,” it’s “mom is going to keep a baby alive”. As are all the nurses that work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Newborn babies already require a lot of attention and care, but a 1-pound premie? They require far more extensive attention if they are going to survive.
Beginning this weekend, I will be conducting interviews with a few nurses at The Valley Hospital who took care of babies I have permission to document. I am also hoping to conduct interviews with the mothers of the babies. By the end of December I should be done filming and will then start editing the documentary together. The Artificial Womb will be premiering at the Dusty Film Festival at the SVA Theatre in May.