The first time my kids emptied out their big sister’s books and made small towers of their reading selections they all still fit in my lap and there was no pressure to encourage anyone to sound out anything. Looking back this was such a luxury but I’m sure at the time I was wishing someone’s head wasn’t smushing my nose into my face while pinning my head to the couch.
They chose a book with mice climbing a family tree on the cover, Ashlyn’s name listed right under the title “On the Day You Were Born.” I squeezed them all close, preparing to flashback to their newborn days as I walked through their sister’s. But as we turned the pages, not a single one applied to their rocky beginnings.
As preemies, the triplets born at 28 weeks and Sawyer born at 34, the nurse never laid them next to me wrapped in soft blankets, slick from birth. They were brought past my face to say hello on their way to oxygen and monitors and rushed to the NICU for interventions I still can’t forget.
We didn’t leave the hospital together or nurse at home as my recovery from their birth continued. Mark and I left the hospital without our children when I was discharged. We left the hospital again and again and again for months afterward as we visited our babies somewhere much less comfortable than home.
Family and friends didn’t coo over our newborns with presents and balloons. We put their thoughtful gifts in a hospital locker and added them to the visitors list so they could scrub up, fasten masks and gowns to glimpse our children through the wall of an incubator.
There was no part of a “normal” birth story book my preemies could claim. Not a single line where I could insert their name or add in a personal detail, their experience was too far removed to reshape into something universal.
So I gave them what they needed and what I needed for them. Four years ago I sat down and wrote the birth story of a premature baby, from rushing to Labor and Delivery long before hopeful parents should be to the waiting, the days and weeks and sometimes months of waiting for that doctor taking care of everything important in your life to tell you the car seat will finally be used.
My preemies are six and eight now, old enough to read my book to themselves as the first copies arrived on our doorstep last week. Old enough to be more impressed that “Mommy your name is on Amazon!” than that it’s under the word “author” on the cover of a book.
“Soon” was a labor of love and I’m so so honored it is here. I can’t thank all of the people who believed in this book and my vision for it enough. From family and friends and my crazy talented illustrator to the amazing supporters of my Kickstarter campaign who endured the rookie mistakes of a new author without saying “OMG finish the book already.”
I would love love love if you pick up a copy of “Soon” and would love it even more if you tell me what you think of it because no one tells you it’s going to be this nerve-wracking to put a labor of love out there and hope it lives up to expectations.
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