What We Didn’t Expect: Personal Stories About Premature Birth

Edited by Melody Schreiber. Melville House, $18.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-61219-860-6
Premature birth is given a moving consideration in this rich anthology from journalist Schreiber. Seventeen essays capture the “range of medical and cultural experiences” around premature birth: In “The Other Side,” Sara Cohen, a NICU nurse, writes of her confusion while in labor (“I was not a NICU nurse in that moment. I was a mother in premature labor”); in “An Aunt in Your Corner,” Maria Ramos-Chertok recalls the “paralyzing fear and dread” she felt while visiting her sister’s premature twins, one of whom dies. U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, in “My Cross-Continental Miracle,” describes trying to reach an adequately equipped hospital before the early birth of her child while back in her native India, an experience she calls “one more arrow in my quiver of reasons” to advocate for Medicare for All. Despite the often troubling emotions covered, this collection will predominantly leave readers with a sense of inspiration and gratitude, as summed up by Jayapal when she writes that pain or fear are “usually drowned out by the (mostly) joyful chaos” of life with a new child. Any parent struggling with the fear and uncertainty that can accompany premature birth will find comfort and inspiration. Agent: Eric Smith, PS Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/16/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Lifestyle
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