1. Douglas, Webra Price PhD, CRNP, IBCLC

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In the book Preemie Parents: 26 Ways to Grow With Your Premature Baby, Tami Gaines describes her journey through the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery (NICU) and beyond. This book is not your typical cathartic journal consisting of week-by-week adventures of prematurity and life in NICU. This book chronicles Tami's growth and development as a woman and mother by not just accepting her situation but embracing the triumphant and tragic world of the NICU.



The book has several different sections beginning with a letter to the reader, followed by one preemie parent to another, "my story," then 26 ways to grow with your premature baby, which could be described as a book within a book. The latter part of the book includes thoughts from the Cribside, closing thoughts, resources, glossary and preemie parent foundation, then concludes with a comprehensive index.


In the section, "one preemie parent to another" the author outlines her personal philosophy that helped her and her family not only survive, but thrive despite the NICU experience. The "my story" section, does not just outline the NICU experience but the details of her life as a successful businesswoman and mother of 2 children. Her family/life challenges included the abandonment of her husband at the news of her twin pregnancy, the loss of her grandmother, and role model and weeks of bed rest for preterm labor. Her other beloved grandmother died as she recovered from an emergent caesarean delivery of 25-week gestation twins. Instead of being angry and entitled, she drew on her previous life experiences, faith, and philosophy. She stopped asking why and began to ask what-what are the lessons to be learned in this situation?


The bulk of the book, 26 Ways to Grow With Your Premature Baby, is where she alphabetically organizes hundreds of tips, survival strategies, and suggestions for preemie parents. Each strategy is explained with examples, personal experience, and pitfalls. She begins with (A) "advocacy" and (B) "be present" and weaves these aspects throughout the other strategies. "Gratitude" (G) is also evident throughout the book as a source of strength, peace, and focus for the future. Gaines tells her story and offers advice with an unwavering sense of "humor" (H) and acknowledges that humor can spring from the absurd. There are glorious examples of how she used humor to cope, gain consensus, and mobilize her resources. Gaines does not sugar coat anything. She is realistic and pragmatic. The NICU parents cannot care for themselves unless they practice self-care, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. She recognizes that life in the NICU is experiential and cannot be "understood" by family and friends. She advises NICU parents to be ready with a list, for when and if people offer to help. This strategy will be mutually beneficial, the parents will get what they need and the person helping feels successful and helpful. She provides a sample list to share with family and friends when they offer to help. Gaines cautions against expectations and fantasies regarding family. As she states, "whatever they were before, they will be the same now. This is not the time to try and create relationships that don't already exist." She described her family's detachment and lack of involvement because they did not want to visit and get attached to the twins in case they died. Her life lessons regarding her family are timeless and universal. Gaines' 26 Ways to Grow With Your Premature Baby are comprehensive, including exercises that can be done at the bedside, suggestions for good nutrition, financial freedom, and endless strategies for self-care. She provides information on complimenting traditional western medicine with natural remedies in a nonobtrusive manner. Gaines characterizes her NICU experience as a journey, then the revelation emerges that her life is a journey and the NICU adventure is just a part of her and her family's life journey. She states she is describing her experience and strategies that were successful. She is candid about the wounds acquired on this journey but is quick to mention the healing and acknowledges that the scars will fade. This book describes her process of redefining her life facilitated by the birth of her 25-week gestation twins.


The "thoughts from the Cribside" section offers specific examples of setting priorities in preparation for discharge, parenting, and commentary on the death of a baby. In "closing thoughts," a snapshot of the twins' hospital course is provided. One twin, Bria was hospitalized for 4 months and was discharged on oxygen, medications, and monitors. Trey, the other twin was in the NICU for 9 months, 4 months in the pediatric intensive care nursery and in a rehabilitation hospital for 5 months before being discharged home with a tracheotomy, ventilator, G-tube, medications, and monitors. There are some hints about the impact of the twins and her personal journey on her older children in this portion of the book. There are more resources and the book concludes with a glossary and easy-to-use topical index. Gaines is so passionate about helping preemie parents; she has created a foundation to meet their needs. The mission statement of the foundation reflects the principles of the book: to provide the parents and caregivers of premature babies with the tools, resources, and support needed to transform the unexpected journey from a place of bewilderment to one of empowerment (



Preemie Parents: 26 Ways to Grow With Your Premature Baby is a great resource for parents in the NICU. Although medical and clinical information is necessary and helpful, this book has the potential to transform anyone. Gaines provides a unique perspective on the roller coaster of the NICU. While one may not agree with her philosophies or all of her strategies and suggestions, there is something useful for anyone experiencing the challenges of having an infant in the NICU. She covers the entire gamut of experiences, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This book is an instruction book for parents on how to be the best member of their child's healthcare team. This reviewer's recommendation is to read the book through cover to cover, then read again to appreciate the depth and wealth of information and finally consult the book periodically as a reference.



Preemie Parents: 26 Ways to Grow With Your Premature Baby is a no-nonsense chronicle of personal growth that was sparked by the birth of premature twins. The lessons are universal. Gaines experienced more life crises in a year than most people have in a lifetime, her account of transformation and triumph with the backdrop of the NICU is inspiring. The book is applicable to any parent facing the illness of a child or anyone facing a crisis. The book is a must read for everyone working in the NICU not just NICU parents.


-Webra Price-Douglas, PhD, CRNP, IBCLC


Maryland Regional Neonatal Transport Program


University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital


Baltimore, MD