Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heartbreaking Questions: This Lovely Life

this lovely lifeI have no idea how Vicki Forman's This Lovely Life ended up on my TBR list, although the most likely vector is BookNAround.  It's just the kind of mature, sophisticated tragedy that I usually avoid with great effort so I can read happy fluffy space adventures.  But I surprised myself by staying with this lovely, forthright memoir of the first year after a devastating premature delivery of twins.

Forman asked the doctors not to try to save her babies, knowing that at twenty three weeks their prognosis was bleak.  The doctors ignored her, and instead huge efforts went into the attempt to keep them alive.  After four days, Ellie died, but Evan surprised the odds by continuing to breathe.  Slowly the family learned of his various diagnoses, and slowly Forman learned how to parent in a world where all the rules and expectation were different.  Meanwhile the medical profession mostly declared victory and abandoned them; premature babies in the NICU received constant attention, but a one year old who spends his time twitching in seizures instead of growing is really the mother's problem.

Forman isn't afraid to admit that she looked at the hard questions; even though her love for her son comes through brilliantly she isn't sure those early doctors did them any favors.  Evan's first year demanded so much of the family (mom, dad and three year old sister) that they could barely mourn his twin sister Ellie, a loss that highlights the choices we have to make when life overflows around us.

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