Having a baby (or two, or three) in the NICU is an extremely isolating experience. Parker spent 77 days there, McKenna 72 and Hadley, not nearly enough. I was there for every single one of them. Not because it was some heroic effort of motherhood, because it was a necessity for my survival. I couldn’t bear to be home without them so I kept a sort of desperate motherhood vigil at their incubators each day. As new babies came and left I would sometimes wonder about the possibility of friendship with the mom two cribs away but dismissed the idea in my mind. One of my children had already died and no hopeful mother wants to hear that story.
When I read Kate Hopper’s new book, “Ready for Air” her words so alive on every page, all I could think about was she was that mom. She could have been the mom one aisle over or the one scrubbing in right after me, had I just reached out to say something, had I only gathered the energy for a conversation. But I think Kate knows this, I think she knows how much mothers just like me need the words she shares in this book, because she was one of them. If I could have spent a fraction of my days in the NICU reading her story of hope and love and honesty I would have felt that friend lifting right through the pages.
I needed “Ready for Air”. I needed another story of a mother who had made it through to tell me I could do the same. As I read the beautifully strung words through her journey with her own daughter Stella, not only did I wish it had been sitting in my lap on those days full of machines and tests and loud silence, but I thanked Kate in my head ten million times over. She wrote what every NICU mother needs. In “Ready for Air” she is that friend you didn’t know you had, the one who understands exactly where you are without you having to say a word, the one who pulls you through a space you are not quite certain you can survive.
I cannot express enough how much this book belongs in the hands of every mother sitting crib-side in a NICU. I’ve dissected our NICU experience over and over again, listing off the things I would have done differently and the things I wouldn’t change for the world, and after reading Kate’s book I have one more to add. I would go back to my worn, clinging-to-hope self and tuck this book into her hand and tell her she wasn’t alone after all.
I was honored to receive an advanced copy of “Ready for Air” and love the fact that, as part of her book tour, University of Minnesota Press is donating copies to NICUs in the U.S. or Canada. You can visit Kate’s blog and nominate a NICU you feel should receive a copy of the book and then RUN to get your own copy on Amazon today.
******Updated to add, Kate has offered to giveaway a copy of “Ready for Air” to one lucky reader, just leave a comment and you will be entered to win (if you’ve already left one, considered yourself entered). I will pick a winner on Sunday 10/27.*********
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