Vicki Forman, having successfully delivered her daughter Josie after an uneventful pregnancy three years prior, thought her cramps were no big deal; the twins were only six months along. But within a matter of hours, she was delivering two very premature babies, weighing about a pound each.
“These babies were born at the worst possible moment—not before twenty-three weeks, when they certainly would have died, nor after twenty-five weeks, when their prognoses would have been so much better,” explains Forman. Envisioning a wretched quality of life for her new babies, she begs the doctors to let them die gracefully, but the laws in California trump her wishes. All of the most advanced medical technologies are used to keep Evan and Ellie alive.
Nothing can save Ellie, who dies four days later. Evan pulls through, but not without a litany of severe developmental problems—blindness, lung disease, heart disease, seizures, mental retardation, breathing problems, eating problems.
Forman’s honesty is astonishing. She does not paint herself as a saint, does not suggest that she accepts her role with grace and charm. She speaks candidly about her grief and her struggles as a mother of a special-needs child. She yells at doctors, she snaps at friends, she sinks into depression, she resents her son.
She also loves her son. Learning to love Evan unconditionally, learning to be his mother, does not happen overnight; that Forman has the courage to describe it as a process makes her story all the more powerful. Rendered in straightforward, lovely prose, this is a searing story of one woman’s grief and growth as she raises a most unusual child.
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