From our first OB appointment to confirm my pregnancy, I knew I was high risk. Rachel and Claire were monozygotic/dichorionic twins, meaning that they resulted from the same egg and shared a placenta, but they each had their individual amniotic sac. Not the most risky twin scenario, but the chances of developing complications was high. Still, I went through the majority of my pregnancy with nothing but slight anemia giving me trouble. Except for the fact that I was exhausted and was a complete menace if I forgot my support belt, pregnancy was a piece of cake.
I knew preeclampsia was a possibility. But hearing it actually declared at 29 weeks sent jolts of panic through my body. I was ordered to go to work only to tie up the loosest of ends, then head straight to the drug store for a portable blood pressure monitor, then straight home to the couch, where I would remain for the next week until I was admitted to the hospital. The preeclampsia was progressing too quickly. I delivered a week later, at 31 weeks. My girls stayed in the NICU for a thankfully boring 38 days.
When I read Kate Hopper’s memoir Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood, I was dumbfounded by how eerily similar our stories were. Kate gave birth to her daughter Stella at 32 weeks after her own battle with preeclampsia. I felt my blood pressure rise just reading her account of her hospital stay (fun fact: I still get extremely nervous when I get my blood pressure taken). I felt her heartache. I knew her guilt of feeling like she had done something wrong, although the situation was beyond her control. I nodded in recognition as she described how the magnesium sulfate, a horrible, yet life saving drug, made her hot and sluggish, and I recalled many a nurse I too wanted to scream at because their bedside manner was less than stellar.
Her illness and Stella’s resulting NICU stay were all so familiar to me because I had lived them myself in such a similar way.
Kate’s memoir is a melodious read of a difficult time. She captivates the reader with her grace and candor, while still allowing her raw emotions and uncertainty of Stella’s future to show. And although mine and Kate’s NICU days are behind us, there’s nothing like the comfort of someone else knowing what you went through. Kate’s story is real.
NICU Book Giveaway
Kate is graciously offering 15 NICUs a chance to receive a copy of Ready for Air. Please visit Kate’s blog and leave a comment with the name and address of the hospital you would like to receive the book, and specify whether it should go to a NICU or a family resource center. At the end of her virtual book tour, Kate will randomly pick 15 hospitals to receive signed copies of her book.
Ready for Air Book Club Contest
Kate Hopper wants to come to your book club! The author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, is giving your club a chance to win one of three Skype or phone chats with the author to discuss her memoir. To enter the contest, please e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ready for Air Book Club Contest,” and include a few sentences about why you’d like to have Kate visit your book club via Skype (or, if you’re in the Twin Cities, in person). Contest deadline: October 31st.
Ready for Air is available for purchase at the following online retailers:
Kate Hopper is the author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Kate holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and a Sustainable Arts Grant. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, including Brevity, Literary Mama, Poets & Writers, and The New York Times online. She is an editor at Literary Mama. She teaches online and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. For more information about Kate’s writing and teaching, visit www.katehopper.com.
I was given a copy of Ready for Air and was asked to participate in Kate Hopper’s virtual book tour. All opinions, bad analogies, and typos are my own, as usual.