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Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood 1st Edition
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"Kate Hopper’s Ready for Air came to me at a moment in life when I needed her unabashed, beautiful description of this unmarked breathless territory: a birth plan gone awry. Hopper does not simply chronicle her experience as a new mother; she stakes a claim with her edgy and wise renderings of a woman admitting every limitation, from money to energy to health to hope. By sharing on the page what cannot be said aloud, Hopper’s gorgeous words make room for more real women in the nursery." —Sonya Huber, author of Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir and Opa Nobody
“[Hopper] is a multifaceted narrator whose complex reactions to the relentless challenges of her daughter’s premature birth are raw, uncensored, unapologetic, and unladylike. . . . Ready for Air [is] a story that bucks the traditional narrative while offering women a model of what it means to be a mother and be wholly, incorrigibly yourself.” —Literary Mama
“Hopper’s memoir can be seen as a comfort to some and an explanation for others, but for her it is proof of her own strength as she writes, ‘As long as I have words, I’ll be strong enough.’ [An] emotional, informative memoir.” —Star Tribune
“Ready for Air looks unflinchingly at the psychological realities of learning to be a parent when other people are in a charge of a baby that can’t come home.” —MinnPost
“This [is a] beautiful, brave book. [Hopper’s] story is sure to be a crucial one for parents of premature babies, but it’s also a book for anyone who has ever had her life go a bit askew. As Kate writes in her memoir, ‘I followed the rules, I did what I was told, and it didn’t matter.’ Parenting, after all, ends up being about learning how little you can control things.” —Mutha Magazine
“Kate writes honestly, sometimes shockingly about her journey. The good, where she finds hope and encouragement along the way. And the bad, her life threatening illness with preeclampsia, the vomit, the heartbreaking pain, and the fear. She bravely tells it all with raw emotion.” —HuffPost Parents
“Ready for Air is an urgent memoir that plumbs the depths of the narrator’s interior as she grapples with the premature birth of her daughter and with her own identity as mother. It is a book of truths that pulls back the curtain on a rarely talked about experience—preeclampsia and premature birth—and strikes a universal truth about what it means to be female in today’s world.” —Writing Women’s Lives
About the Author
Kate Hopper teaches writing online and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers and an editor at Literary Mama. For more information about her writing and classes, visit http://www.katehopper.com.
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When, at long last, Hopper is able to take her tiny daughter home, there is a heartbreaking moment in which she realizes that coming home is not the end of her difficulties. In fact, the most difficult challenges await, and she’s going to have to face most of them in her own house, alone. Her husband is wonderfully supportive, but he has to go to work. And Hopper is so angry at him for this that she could throw things (and does!). I think we have all known a moment like this. When the demands of our daily reality have pushed us so close to our breaking point that we assign blame in knowingly irrational ways. And it’s Hopper’s willingness to own up to this–to articulate this for the rest of us–that gives her writing about this difficult topic its unexpected luminosity.
In sum, Ready for Air is a seamlessly crafted work that carries us to places we will hopefully never have to go, but for which we would be amazingly well prepared if we did. It is engrossing, thought-provoking, and a story you will long carry in your heart.
For my complete review, see my website: sharonrawlette.wordpress.com.
This moment is a turning point for Hopper, who had been planning for a blissful natural birth when, at 32 weeks’ pregnancy, severe preeclampsia threatened her life as well as the one she carried. The disease necessitated her daughter’s premature birth, catapulting her brand-new family into days, weeks, and months of struggle and uncertainty. In Hopper’s case, love, like an orchid, took time to bloom.
“What we usually hear about motherhood is exactly what this woman was spouting in class: bonding and connection, instant love between mother and child,” Hopper writes with her irresistible mix of spunk, intelligence, and humor. “You are your child’s first lover. Gross, by the way. Where are the other versions of that story? The fear and disappointment, the hours and hours spent each day trying to get your baby to stop crying? Where are the stories about what to do if you’re afraid you’re going to hurt your baby? Those stories need to be told too, don’t they?”
I had two full-term babies and never dealt with prematurity, but I found myself relating thoroughly with Ready for Air, page after page through laughter and many sudden tears, as the story perfectly evokes the excruciating transformations of new parenthood. As Hopper emerged from a journey that raised life’s biggest questions about marriage, family, faith, love, individuality and human endurance, she started to notice something: The more she told her story, the more stories came back. Her writing led to teaching, and her teaching led to true and not-always-pretty stories about parenthood emerging all around her.
The same thing will happen in book groups choosing to discuss Ready for Air—especially clubs whose members value and respect one another’s experiences—even when they stray from pat, prettified, socially acceptable myths of motherhood. After all, “‘Your stories matter,’” Hopper tells her students. “That I know for sure.”