A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend I’ve known for a few months, and I discover that she has written a book! It’s her first book, and it is the story of a very intimate part of her life – the birth of her two sons, both born prematurely.
The purpose of the book, other than getting all her frustration out, was to raise awareness of premature birth and to provide something to other parents in the same position, something that she had looked for when she had just given birth – an account of the early years of a child born prematurely.
Jen is giving all profits from the sales of this book to the neonatal units at the Queen’s Medical Centre and the Nottingham City Hospital.
I asked her to give me some background to the book, and she kindly agreed to let me share a tiny part of her story:
Hi, I’m Jen, and I want to tell you about a book I’ve written that was very important to me. It’s called ‘The Waiting Game (The Truth About a Premature Baby),’ and I’m excited to talk to you about it here.
I would describe this book as a cross between a diary and a self-help book. I take you along with me on my personal journey of having my two sons, Alex and Harry, both of whom were born prematurely.
This book covers Harry’s life up to the age of five and describes, in great depth, the emotions I experienced throughout every stage of his birth and development, through the first five years of his life. The book also covers the birth of his brother, Alex, also born prematurely, primarily for comparison with Harry. Although both boys were born in similar circumstances (34 weeks and 30 weeks), both gave me totally different experiences.
Alex was born at 34 weeks, weighing 3lbs 8oz and is now ten years old, and his brother, Harry, born at 30 weeks, weighing 2lbs 3oz, is now an active six year old, and boy, have they been six interesting years, filled with difficulty and emotion, but also with joy and all the rewards having a child can bring! If I said I was the proudest mum in Britain, that would be an understatement!
The book talks about how I spent the first five years of Alex’s life with physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals, teaching him to walk and supporting him to achieve all that he has done in his life to date. It delves into the range of emotions I felt over that time, from anxiety and depression to courage and anger, and many more besides! It was an amazing journey, but I survived and want to talk about all those emotions, both positive and negative.
The idea for this book started when Harry reached his third birthday. I’d had this idea of a story about my life rattling around inside my head for a while. It was a big idea, but when I sat down to write it, I got to about one hundred words and stalled. I just couldn’t do it. With my life as it was, I was just too tired, too busy and living in the middle of everything that I end up writing about. Couple those things with all the comments I had received over the years about my children and me, and it all seemed too much. People wanted to know why I wasn’t having more children after I had my son at forty-one! These people had no idea the journey I had been on to get to where I was; I had to work so hard to help my children attain things that other children of their age would do with ease and having negative comments fired at me was hurtful. But what it did, was make me determined. Determined to share my story; determined to raise awareness of premature birth; determined to help other parents in a similar situation. I needed an outlet for my anger and frustration.
Picture the scene: I’m sitting in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at the Queen’s Medical Centre with my husband, Neil. We have just given birth to a ten-week premature baby, weighing just over 2lbs. The consultant has just finished talking to us. He has given us the results of Harry’s head scan, which shows a bleed on his brain, probably occurring at, or just after birth. We’re both shocked. Anxious. Scared. What does it mean? I’m not a patient person, and I want answers. Is this common for premature children? What are other people’s experiences? What are the outcomes for other children in similar situations? The consultant is excellent, but is unable to give us any answers for Harry’s future. Would he recover, or would he develop a disability? Which disability? How would it affect his life?
Too many questions. Too many emotions.
So that was me. I sat with my husband in the family room and picked up an A4 black folder on one of the tables and opened it. There were clear plastic pockets inside, which held photographs of someone’s daughter that had been born prematurely. This mum had shared some details of the time she had spent in the Neonatal Unit. I flicked through the book, hoping to find some information about this child’s head scan. The woman had been brave enough to share intimate details of some of her most precious moments with her daughter, including details of such a scan, and I discovered that her daughter had, indeed, had a bleed on the brain of the same grade as Harry. I needed more information; what happened to this child? The information in the booklet stopped shortly after that, the only information being that although there were no early signs of brain damage, it was still too early to say what the long-term implications might be.
This woman’s story was the first spark of inspiration for ‘The Waiting Game,’ and after five years, I was finally able to get it written, but now I was able to produce what I had so needed when I was sitting in that family room at the hospital: an accounting of a child’s life, from premature birth, to the age of five, told by someone that had lived through those same experiences but also detailing the wondrous, joyous times we’ve had with our boys, and all the amazing things they have gone on to achieve.
What’s being said about ‘The Waiting Game?’
“Wow Jen! Just finished your book. Wonderful read and so touching. You have made it very real for the reader to experience your journey with you. Incredible book.”
“Got home and felt wide awake so thought I`d read a few pages of your book… once I started, I had to read it to the end I really wanted to follow your journey through. Thought it was emotional, honest and very insightful and highlighted your continuing strengths even now in your dedication and love for the boys. It really made me think about how much of a roller coaster ride you`ve been on and just how far you`ve all come… you should all feel very proud of what you`ve achieved so far… Hope the book helps and inspires many others on their journeys. I`m sure it will!”
All profits from the sale of this book will go to the Neonatal Units at the Queen’s Medical Centre and the City Hospital in Nottingham.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please get in touch if you have any questions.
This book is not yet available on Amazon, so to get your copy of ‘The Waiting Game,’ please email Jen including your address so she can post one out to you. The cost of the book is £5 plus £1.50 for postage.
Jen’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find Jen on Facebook at Jenny Buck.