Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some Thoughts on Kate Hopper's Ready for Air

A few nights ago I finished reading Kate Hopper's gorgeous memoir Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood. I 'know' Kate from our work together at Literary Mama. I gobbled up her first book Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, a fantastic resource that I recommend to any mama writers seeking inspiration.

Ready for Air is the book Kate wrote first, however. It was a long road to publication, as you can learn here from Janine Kovac's excellent profile for Literary Mama.

I am so glad that this book made it into the world. Although my own motherhood journey has been technically different (both my children were full term), I can relate to this story on so many levels. A recurring theme through the early part, which offers a vivid account of Stella's premature birth and the ensuing complications, is "This was not part of the plan." Show me a new parent who hasn't said that!

Jump ahead now to when Kate and her husband Donny finally get the green light to bring their baby home from the NICU. This is what they were aiming for, all those stressful weeks at the hospital. But, then, another change in plans. Stella must remain indoors for cold and flu season (six months!) because she is especially susceptible to illness. Kate and her family must be vigilant in keeping all germs at bay. No one with a cold can come near Stella. And there's no way Kate can sit in a coffee shop writing, her baby napping in a car seat next to her. The preoccupation with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes reminded me of a similar time in our family's life when my sister's daughter Rachel was in the early stages of her battle with leukemia, at four years of age, the year she would be starting kindergarten. In the same way that Stella has transformed from being "Stella born at thirty-two weeks" to just "Stella", Rachel has sloughed off her leukemia label, and grown into a healthy, vibrant tween.

And there's another connection for me. I think of my feisty son, with his multiple food allergies, and his imminent entry into school life. I have kept him in a kind of quarantine, all these years, preventing and controlling his exposure to the things he needs to avoid. Lately, he has learned to communicate more clearly about his allergies, but I don't want him to ever define himself strictly as "That Kid with Allergies." Ready for Air is a story for every parent of a child like this fragile, yet infinitely strong.


  1. Dear Maria, thank you so much for reading and posting. I'm so happy that the book resonated with you! And I know that your son's allergies won't be the thing that defines him. I know that because you are his mother. Thank you so much for your kind words!!

  2. My pleasure, Kate! Thanks for sharing your story!