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Book Review: Preemie Parents

“Preemie Parents: 26 Ways to Grow with Your Premature Baby”, by Tami C. Gaines, was generously donated to me so I could read and review it.  I sat down today and gave it my full attention and was surprised at how quickly I was able to get through the book.  I must congratulate Tami on her accomplishment in producing a book for preemie parents.  I can tell that she is a very strong woman who has a lot to offer to the world of prematurity.  I think she is a spiritual woman who has a very strong grasp of what is important to her and a good understanding of how to have peace in body and mind.

Tami took the approach of sharing her pregnancy-to-birth story as part of the preface, and then she shared her experiences of being in the NICU with her micropreemie twins throughout the rest of the book.  Each chapter title started with a letter of the alphabet and she went in order describing 26 ways to be the best NICU parent you can be, basically.  I think many of her ideas were very good and very valuable for preemie parents; particularly, advocating for your baby, educating yourself, showing gratitude, taking care of yourself, trusting your instincts, being financially responsible, celebrating milestones, and staying focused on your babies and the ultimate goal to bring them home in good health.

Tami says, on page 9, that “My intention for this book is to share my coping mechanisms so that you, too, can be strong for your baby(ies), your family, and for Preemie Parents everywhere.  What I’ve described in this book is not the only way to make it through.  I encourage you to take what you are able from the guidance provided here and mold it to suit your experience.”  I think that if read with that in mind this book can be beneficial to a preemie parent.  I agree, though, that it is mostly that:  coping mechanisms.  If you’re doubting your abilities to keep a handle on things and stay sane, this book may have some great suggestions for you.

However, I must admit that I felt that many of the thoughts and suggestions were overwhelming and/or “too much to think about” for a preemie parent right in the middle of the NICU experience.  Tami said that she started writing this book when her preemies were 16 months old and finished it when they were about 4 years old.  It’s been almost 5 years since my 27-weeker was born and it was easy for me to read through all of her optimistic and superwoman-like ideas on how to stay constantly positive, strong, full of knowledge, and healthy in body and mind.  But, I know that 4 1/2 years ago I would have picked this book up and been overwhelmed by how perfect she expected me to be and how put together I “should” be if I could just do all of these things – 26 things to remember!  That’s when I have to remind myself that she said that her book was simply to “share… coping mechanisms” and that this was “not the only way to make it through”.  However, in her writing she makes it sound like she mastered every one of these things while she was in the NICU and was near-perfectly in control of her mental state, her emotions, her circumstances, her health, and everything else the entire time.  Though that may not be true and may not have been her intention to make it appear true, the feeling that it gave me was one of inadequacy, inferiority, and weakness.

Somehow much of what she said left me feeling disconnected from her, instead of understood by her.  Her emphasis on other personal trials and attitudes she had distanced me from her, and her views on becoming financially free were unrealistic for me and I believe for most people.  Some of her “alphabet titles” were a bit of a stretch (Q, for instance – she compared us mothers to a honeybee and a chess piece), I thought, and I think that she could have been more concise and less repetitive if she had made her book shorter and less wordy.  So many of her ideas were centered on mental and spiritual strength that I almost got bored of reading about it.  At other times she seemed to be declaring herself as the ultimate authority on a subject in which she really has no credentials (such as finances and emotional/mental stability).

In short, I think she has many great ideas and suggestions for preemie parents, but I don’t necessarily think her style of presenting them is the easiest to connect with and relate to when you’re in the NICU.  I think you have to be pretty emotionally stable and sound of mind and circumstance to fully benefit from all of her advice – and I’m pretty sure I never met either of those criteria during the entire 3 months I was in the NICU with my daughter.

Once again I sincerely appreciate Tami’s efforts to help other preemie parents through a difficult time and to help them learn from her experiences.  I hope that many will find her book helpful and that much good will come from her dedication and sacrifices.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.

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