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Coming to Term
By William H. Woodwell, Jr.
Coming to Term
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Review by Allison Martin

Coming to Term is a father's first hand account of the premature birth of his daugher, and her subsequent four month experience in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In 1997, twin girls were born to William and his wife Kim. Due to complications from a pregnancy related syndrome known as HELLP, the babies were born very premature at 24 weeks gestation. The smallest, Nina, died soon after birth. However, Josie, weighing a scant one pound 2 ounces, survived, coming home with them after 125 days in the hospital.

William Woodwell describes the roller coaster of the events of the pregnancy and hospital journey with a discerning eye and dispassionate tone. As for most people who experience extreme prematurity, the tumultous feelings draw forth a number of issues, which Woodwell dealves into as he relates his family's journey. Having a child, having twins, losing a twin, the intensity and anxiety of the trama of the NICU are among the concepts he explores. With him, we experience the events of prematurity - ventalitation, infections, first bath, and finally transfer to a step down hospital in preparation for the homecoming.

When his daughter is first born, Woodwell is reminded of the one and a half pound lobsters from past Cape Cod vacations, but he is soon amazed at how "human" the the tiny babies look. As his life narrows to the NICU, he observes how people react to him as well as how he reacts to his own experiences. As the author explains, "the smallest human beings can teach us the biggest lessons we will ever learn."

Preemie parents and others who are interested in the journey of premature babies will find this book a compelling guide.

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