Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Susan O. Murphy


As with any new baby, a medically vulnerable infant must be incorporated into the life of the family. The work of this transition is principally the work of the mother as primary caretaker. The mother considers what it will mean to have this infant in the family, how he will fit in, and what things will change. The mother wonders about how his personality will unfold and what his future will bring. She thinks about her role as a mother and how to best meet her child's special needs. With a medically vulnerable infant, a mother also has to consider the implications of health and developmental problems. She has relationships with multiple health care professionals who are now a part of her family's life. The mothers in this study touched upon all of these matters. They seemed to be exploring and grappling with three overarching issues: a) the infant and his future, b) navigating relationships with health care professionals, and c) discovering what it means to be the mother of this child.