Top Ten Books I Recommend To Preemie Parents
Although this post is intended for a narrow readership, it is one close to my heart. My own kiddo was born 7 weeks early due to preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, weighing just over 3 lbs. November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and this past Sunday was World Prematurity Day, so it feels appropriate to make today’s Top Ten Tuesday post about books preemie parents may find helpful.
If you have a friend or family member whose baby is currently in the NICU and aren’t sure what book would be appropriate, I would consider the first five books on this list to be pretty safe. The rest of the books include heavier content that your loved one may want to seek out on their own once they feel ready to process the experience.
1. My Early Arrival Baby Journal– This is the baby book we own (and it’s mostly filled out). I found trying to fill out a traditional baby book frustrating and depressing, with its pages that not only didn’t apply to us, but reminded me of a traumatic experience rather than helping me celebrate a unique story. This baby book is filled with adorable, gentle illustrations and helps parents log preemie-specific challenges and milestones. There’s plenty of space to write and include photos. View sample pages on the book’s website.
2. The Littlest Peanut: A Journal Milestone Babybook for Preemies– Here’s another preemie-specific baby book “designed to record special moments, keep track of exciting milestones and store meaningful keepsakes.” This one has really sweet illustrations.
3. Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies by Linden, Paroli, and Doron – Written by two mothers and a neonatologist, this “Dr. Spock-like reference” is a comprehensive guidebook – anything you need to know about your preemie is in these pages. This book covers birth through the preschool years, and takes a number of special situations into consideration.
4. Preemie Care: A Guide to Navigating the First Year with Your Premature Baby by Karen Lasby RN MN and Tammy Sherrow RN MN – Two leading neonatal nurse specialists offer a “what to expect” type of resource with all parents and babies in mind, no matter the parenting style, special issues, or feeding method. I originally had the preemie-specific Dr. Sears book on this list, but I’m thankful to be able to replace that with this book, which contains more up-to-date information (it was published in 2019) and is far more inclusive.
5. No Bigger Than My Teddy Bear by Valerie Pankow and Gwen Connoly – This children’s book by Valerie Pankow, a former elementary school teacher, is the account of her son’s reactions to his baby brother and the NICU. This is a wonderful book to read to siblings, or even to older preemies who may want to know more about how their lives began.
6. Living Miracles: Stories of Hope from Parents of Premature Babies by Kimberly Powell and Kim Wilson – In this book, Powell and Wilson have compiled twenty-two stories told by parents, organized by the weeks of gestation of the babies at birth (from 23 to 36 weeks). Parents share their fears and joys, their tips for other preemie parents and where they found help and encouragement along the way.
7. Empowered Preemie Moms: From NICU, to Newborn, and Beyond by Shaana Berman – This Kindle-only book is divided into two sections. The first shares personal accounts by ten preemie moms with babies born anywhere between 23 and 34 weeks. The second section serves as a “survival guide” of sorts, with empowerment strategies to help parents navigate the NICU and beyond, and overcome feelings of isolation and anxiety.
8. Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson – Alexa Stevenson, contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition and author of the now-defunct blog Flotsam (but you can follow her on Twitter), tells the story of her micropreemie (born at 24 weeks) with poignancy, gritty honesty, and even some humor. This memoir is a roller coaster of emotions, and so worth the read.
9. Miracle Child by James Wilcox – The father of a micropreemie (born four months early) chronicles his son’s fight to survive, as well as how his family navigated through the trenches and found their faith renewed. If you’re want to understand what NICU parents are going through, this is the book to read.
10. Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood by Kasey Mathews – The mother of a micropreemie (born four months early) writes about her daughter’s journey, as well as how she grew along with her. In sharing their experiences, Mathews hopes to impart upon all of her readers, preemie parents or not, a universal message that “adversity is often opportunity in disguise and the opportunity to witness a life transformation as a result.”
BONUS: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU by Jenny Jaeckel – I first published this post way back in 2013, and as I was cleaning up the images and making sure the links were all still active, I couldn’t resist including this stunning graphic memoir, which was published a few years after my original post. The artwork in this book captures a multitude of nuanced feelings that surface during a NICU stay, about everything from parenthood to marriage to family to the medical staff and system. It’s a brief but incredibly powerful little book.
I hope you find this very special and beloved book list helpful. If you’re a preemie parent, do you have a book that you’d recommend that isn’t on this list? Let everyone know in the comments!