Celebrating Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood/Kate Hopper

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In the fall of 2008, I spent time with the doctors, nurses, parents, and babies of a nationally ranked neonatal intensive care unit in Philadelphia. I had traveled there at the request of a client, a generous not-for-profit called St. Christopher's Foundation for Children. I was in the company of a handful of young people who were learning about the world around them and the institutions that mattered in their own neighborhoods. It was a journey of exceptional proportions—the tiniest fingers, the most vulnerable dreams.

There was so much pure fragility in those rooms that day. There was also so much hope, thanks to the groundbreaking science that continues to get done on behalf of babies born too soon. Last week I was brought back to this sacred day of many years ago—the harrowing smallness, the breath-giving possibilities—as I read Kate Hopper's intense and intensely involving memoir Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood. This is Kate's story; it is her family's story. It is the sequence of events that leads this first-time mother from simply dreaming about her baby during a warm Minnesota summer to fearing for her life—not just the baby's life, but Kate's own.

Some half a million babies are born prematurely in this country each year, Kate tells us. The costs—physical, emotional, financial—are staggering, and even when the child is finally able to come home, this tiny bundle represents challenges no parent ever sees coming. Isolation. Doubt. The challenge of bonding with one so very tiny, so still too new.

Kate, whom I have been privileged to know for a long time now through the ether of this internet world, has written the details of her harrowing journey down. We meet her husband, her sisters, her parents, her friends. We see what it is—feel what it is—to be subject to so many unknowns, and we lean forward with Kate, hope for all that she hopes for, celebrate all she finally has to celebrate.

It's personal. It's honest. It's compelling.

Ready for Air, written in the months and years after Kate's baby comes home, is a triumph, and I encourage you to get a copy of your own. I also invite you to participate in something very special: a chance to suggest NICUs where a free copy of Kate's book might be sent. For more information about that NICU giveaway, please click on this link.

Thank you, on behalf of Kate and of all babies, big and small.


Serena said...

I cannot even imagine how tough that would be.

kate hopper said...

Dear Beth, thank you so much for these kind words, and for that photo, which takes my breath away. I'm so honored to know you and call you a friend.


Angie Mizzell said...

I read the book and this is so true: "We see what it is—feel what it is—to be subject to so many unknowns, and we lean forward with Kate, hope for all that she hopes for, celebrate all she finally has to celebrate."

KFP said...

Grateful for this. I know several people including a newly minted NICU nurse who will appreciate this book.

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