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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Kathy at kissing the frog says
I never even thought about talking to any other parents when my twins were in the NICU. I always had our curtain closed so I could have private time with my babes. Maybe I was just scared of what I would hear or see.
Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo says
Even though we weren’t in the NICU together, you were “that mom/friend” to me. The one that let me know that what I was feeling was okay. You didn’t have a crystal ball or tell me that everything would be okay, you were there. That mattered. I hope after (almost) four years that you know that. I’m surprised after “all that time” that Kate’s book hit me so hard.
Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
Really? I’m so glad I was able to be there for you. I remember crying at my computer when I found out about your loss and hoping with everything I had that your two survivors would make it. NICU memories always hit me hard, I think it was hard to take it all in at the time so it just keeps coming out in pieces.
I downloaded your new book and I am reading it :-). Now, I will add this one to my book list. xo
Would love to win a copy and I would donate it. I agree, you NICU parents need all the love, support and understanding the world has to give.
I loved Kate’s book also. Though I never had a child in the NICU, I found so much of Ready for Air to be universal (which of course is why it’s so powerful). That said, I am hugely moved by your personal reflections.
Thanks so much Lindsey, and I thought the same about her book. Anyone could read it and take away so much from her personal story.
erin margolin says
You had me at Hadley in the second sentence of this post, Jess. I’m so glad Kate’s written this and I look forward to reading it. And I feel guilty that I/we only spent 21 days in the NICU. We were lucky.
Nothing to feel guilty about Erin, 21 days is a long time. Sawyer was in for 10 and I hated every day that he wasn’t home with us where he should be. xi
I cannot wait to read this book as I have a very similar story. A baby born too early (at 33 weeks) due to severe pre-eclampsia; a baby who spent time in NICU; a baby who survived and is now a beautiful preschooler. I am beyond blessed and filled with so much gratitude. But back then, and even now, this book sounds like it would have been important to me, the me who felt so small in comparison to the big machines, the me who sat vigil over her tiny baby, the me who desperately wanted to hear the stories of hope and love. Thank you for this review!
I’m so glad you found this helpful and I just know you will love the book. It’s beautifully written.
My twins will be 4 years old on October 27. They were born 8 weeks early. 30 days in the Nicu. There older sister was only 20 mos old. I had to choose everyday who to spend time with it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Through 20 weeks of my pregnancy the specialists did not think twin b was going to make it. I’m one of the lucky few she made it and is doing really well. I will never forget the long lonely frightening hours in the Nicu.
Nothing can really describe what the NICU is truly like can it? I’ve never been able to convey all the emotions wrapped up in the experience.
Kate Hopper says
I already told you, Jessica, that this made me cry, but I wanted to post here and thank you again for your words, for reading, and for this wonderful blog. Thank you for the lovely comments, as well. You’ve made my day!
You are so welcome, I was honored to do it.
Jenni & Andy says
The world is so small, and hearts are so big. I’ve been reading Use Your Words and happened upon a review of this new book (on 6512 and Growing) yesterday. I searched for Kate’s site today so I could remember the title and reserve it at the library – and there you were. And I’m not sure why I was surprised…
Perfect. I’m so glad you found her and I shouldn’t be surprised either. <3
Jessica Smock says
I can’t wait to read this book. She is such an amazing writer, as are you!
If the book is as beautiful as your review, it is definitely worth the read. Thank you for sharing.