This Lovely Life
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This Lovely Life

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  293 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Vicki Forman gave birth to Evan and Ellie, weighing just a pound at birth, at twenty-three weeks' gestation. During the delivery she begged the doctors to "let her babies go" -- she knew all too well that at twenty-three weeks they could very well die and, if they survived, they would face a high risk of permanent disabilities. However, California law demanded resuscitatio...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 23rd 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published January 1st 2009)
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Ciara
wow. this staggered me. it's the memoir of a woman who gave birth to catastrophically premature twins, a boy & a girl. when she learned that she was in preterm labor, she recognized that her babies were likely to be very, very sick, if they survived at all, & she begged the doctors to let them go rather than performing heroic feats of resuscitation. but her doctors refused, & refused again when she asked for a DNR order in the NICU. it was kind of shocking to read about how these doc...more
Mary
In reading other glowing reviews of this book, I think that I must have missed something in my reading. The book is an interesting page-turner, and the experiences the author and her family had to go through with their premature children are unquestionably difficult beyond understanding and deserving of much sympathy. However, I felt that the tone of the book was quite bitter (there is a lot of finger pointing at various doctors and health professionals) and, until the last few pages, did not co...more
Frances Kehlbeck Civello
Vicki Forman delivers a beautifully written story that needed to be told. Although I knew the subject matter and a few of the details before picking up the book, I was unprepared for the rollercoaster of raw emotion I would experience reading it. Vicki's prose is anything but raw, however -- it is polished and poetic, truly wonderful to read through tears.
Jen
Such a beautiful, thought-provoking book. A story that was heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Forman is an extraordinary writer.
Laura
This was an amazing book. With courage and honesty, the author describes the experience of giving birth to her twins prematurely, of losing one and of discovering over time how severe the surviving twin's medical needs and disabilities were to be. The author offers up her doubts, her fears, her weakness and her strength. This is not an "I proved the professionals wrong and my child beat the odds" kind of story; there is no happy ending. Rather, it is a story lived out by an increasing number of...more
Abiniasz
An essential read for any NICU nurse or doctor. The author tells the story of having 23 week twins and their long stay in the NICU. She delves into many of the ethical dilemmas faced in the NICU, ultimiately deciding to remove her daughter from life support when she learns the baby has grade four bleeds. Her son ends up staying in the NICU for months and months and finally goes home with severe developmental delays and medical challenges. He continues to be in and out of the hospital, suffering...more
skein
Dec 02, 2009 skein rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: would-be parents.
Shelves: non-fiction, 4-star
A cautionary tale. Early in her pregnancy, Forman went into labor and delivered twins at 23 weeks gestation. (Abortion is legal until the 24th week.) She immediately requested that they be allowed to die naturally - that is, for an absence of medical intervention. She was overruled.
And from then on, her life - and by proxy, the lives of her husband and toddler - are consumed by the needs of the twins - and by Forman's own (justified) need to control their doctors and medications, to take a part...more
Literary Mama
"Motherhood, for most of us, comes with its own language. We learn to divide our experience into trimesters; we become familiar with all things maternal, including "instinct," "bond" and "leave." Many of our new words slide into a kind of noun-heavy babyspeak: onesies, binkies, sippies, nummies. But there is a kind of motherhood that catches you by surprise, one that empties your heart and mind and leaves you struggling to find any words at all. Vicki Forman writes about such an experience in he...more
Marie
First off, this book is not for everyone. And it's certainly not going to be five stars for everyone. But for a survivor of the NICU or PICU, a parent who has seen his or her child fighting for life, and a parent who's had to face down the medical establishment and sometimes win and sometimes lose, it's beautiful, a tear-jerker, and poignant. One reviewer commented that no one of child-bearing age should read this book. It could completely terrify prospective or new parents. But it all depends o...more
Mindy
Stunning, breathtaking, and absolutely heartbreaking. Forman's memoir of the premature birth of her twins was beautiful and so, so sad. I had to put the book down and walk away from it because I could not stop sobbing.
Liz Simmons
This book was really sad, and also makes you kind of infuriated with medical professionals who don't listen. The author gave birth to two very, very premature twins. So premature that until very recent breakthroughs in medicine, neither would have normally lived more than a few hours. The parents are very insistent that they do not want extraordinary measures taken to save the lives of the babies, but the doctors refuse to follow their wishes. The author doesn't really go into it in the book, bu...more
Monica Casper
As a memoir of one woman's experiences with premature infants, including loss and suffering, the book succeeds admirably. There is raw truth here, and courage, and grief, and a keen sense of outrage at the circumstances in which Vicki Forman found herself. For anyone interested in health care (and its problems), medical authority, understandings of "life," infant mortality, reproductive politics, and motherhood, there is much here to provoke thinking and dialogue. Throughout, we see how Forman a...more
Stephen Gallup
Every year there are more parent memoirs about children who have problems. I'm familiar with a great many, having been following the genre since about 1986, and in all honestly most of them disappoint me. Their repeated shortcomings were the main factor that drove me to write my own (publication expected in 2011). This Lovely Life, however, is in a class by itself. There is so much truth and heart in this book that it feels close to the final word on the subject.

I wholeheartedly second the other...more
Tricia
I found this book after we lost our baby, finding out at our 19-week gender scan that the baby had been gone for five weeks. In a desperate attempt to make sense of my own loss, to connect in some way with the sorority of heartache that us "loss moms" belong to, I grabbed up this book and subsequently devoured it. I was spellbound by it's words and by Forman's raw prose and painful journey. The transformation that takes place in her is one I hope I see occur in my own heart someday.

After going...more
Mark
I have no children, I will never be a mother and I knew how the book ended before I started, but I could not put this book down.
Vicki Forman's story of delivering and caring for her extremely premature twins is both gut-wrenching and inspiring in equal measure. The number of medical setbacks and complications that the author and her family have to get through is unbelievable. Somehow, she always finds the strength not only to get through each situation, but to be an advocate for her children at...more
Rachelle
This book was recommended to me during a class I took for my job. In the class we were learning about new machines and treatments that give extremely premature babies the chance to live. This book presents the same story from a different point of view, a mother’s.

Due to an untreatable infection, Vicki goes into premature labor at 23 weeks gestation with twins. Realizing the huge challenges encountered by babies who are born so very early, she begs the medical staff to not take any heroic measure...more
Lisa Roney
A powerful book about medicine gone wrong. Vicki Forman gave birth to twins so premature that they should have been allowed merciful deaths. Instead, the doctors took every heroic measure to make them live. One died anyway, and the other lived eight years with terrible complications and disabilities. Forman's appeal is that she is honest about the awfulness of her situation. She doesn't mince words. Reading the book is, of course, uncomfortable, as she traps you with her in the nightmare of call...more
Janet Elsbach
Not sure that anyone should be reviewing this book, because it looks to be a short hop from there to passing judgement on the author's choices or emotional state or personality or marriage. Very few have had to love through (I meant to write "live" through, but I think I will leave that) what her family lived through, but a very much greater percentage have opinions on the theories that make the rules that drove them into that tunnel. I applaud her honesty and her bravery in making her story pub...more
Shana
I read this book in one evening. It was one of those books that had me crying at parts, but with tears in my eyes throughout. Forman gave birth to twins at 23 weeks’ gestation, which made them super preemies. She was horrified when her labor began so early, and it’s easy to see why. They weighed a pound each and barely looked like the babies she had imagined giving birth to later on.

I won’t give away what happens, but will tell you that what Forman and her husband went through was Hell. Every sm...more
Kelly Hager
This is a seriously fantastic, incredibly sad book.

Vicki gives both to twins incredibly early in her pregnancy (23 weeks, I think) and they weigh a pound or so each. She asks the doctors to let them die, because (a) they were too small to suffer so much and (b) if they survived, they'd probably face a ton of disabilities (severe brain damage, cerebral palsy, etc.). But California law says that the doctors couldn't do that. The daughter dies four days later, but her son, Evan, stays alive. He's i...more
Emily
In her memoir, Vicki Forman details her experiences as the mother of a set of severely premature twin babies. Her story is heart-wrenching, but hopeful and inspiring. Throughout the memoir, Forman brings events to life for the reading by including actual dated personal journal entries. These are so powerful because they tell us her thoughts at a specific moment in time, the exact words she wrote as she went through the trials of taking care of children born with special medical needs.

In the tex...more
Julie
This Lovely Life is one of the best books I've ever read. It is searing, full of the worst pain one could imagine, and enormous joy. Reading the journey of the author from a rather ordinary overachiever to a fierce protector of her disabled child is one of the most moving transformations I have witnessed in a human. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Laura
Wow, if anyone wants to know what my life has been like for the last 4 years, read this book. It has more similarities to my own life than I care to mention. It is the story of a mother who has twins at 23 weeks and one of them doesn't survive. The other one has severe challenges including feeding tubes, motor delay, vision problems, surgeries, etc. Been there, done that. Besides the Buddhist topics and choosing to cremate her daughter instead of burying her (and other subtle differences) the st...more
Toby Schonfeld
This is a breathtaking book. It is easily the best memoir I have ever read and richly deserves its award-winning status. I have learned much about life and love from reading it, and I am grateful to have met the author in person to hear her share some of her experiences first-hand. Thank you for trusting us with your story.
Karna Converse
this lovely life is an intimate look inside a mother's mind that encourages readers to consider how the moral and ethical obligations our medical community has to save lives play out in real life.

Vicki Forman writes honestly and intelligently about her wish to "let her babies go"--twins Evan and Ellie were born at twenty-three weeks gestation--and the process she worked through in coming to terms with the lives they'd been given. In 10 chapters, she takes readers through an eight-year journey wh...more
Erin
This is a tough book to review. I have started no less than five reviews, only to erase them as they wouldn't do this book justice. As a writer, Forman vividly portrays the pain and anguish she feels as a mother of premature twins. I can tell as a reader each word was painstakingly written, but written nonetheless to pay tribute to the lives of her babies. Even though this is a five-star book, I ended up giving it four stars because of my personal battle to get through some of the author's hones...more
Someday
I think this book is excellent and wonderfully conveys the emotions of NICU parents who truly just carried along the tide as medical staff dictate the decisions for babies. The book paints an accurate picture of the helplessness that parents feel and how overbearing and intimidating medical professionals can be. I wish I could have a copy for every nurses station in the NICU where I work.

It's true that the book focuses much more on what became of the author and her emotional process of acceptanc...more
Natalie Sampson
This book was painfully honest and raw, I don't know how the author had the bravery to document this story. My heart goes out to her and to all other moms who struggle with challenges in their children's health and lives.
Katie
Well written and honest, but went downhill after an incredibly powerful start discussing NICU care for extremely premature babies. The things that bothered me most were her tendency to conflate personality with medical ability and that her husband felt so peripheral to the family--she spent so much time talking about "I" but rarely "we" that it felt like she believed she was the more important parent. Learning more about how this challenged her relationship with her husband and daughter would ha...more
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The Seasonal Read...: Susan's Review 1 14 Nov 02, 2013 11:40AM  
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My work has appeared in the Seneca Review and the Santa Monica Review as well as in the anthologies Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs and Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. I live in Southern California with my husband and daughter."
More about Vicki Forman...
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“It's so difficult to love another person and yourself for who they are and not what they do or who they could be. To stay in this moment and know it in all its pleasure and its pain. The world is a beautiful place. How often do we say this aloud?” 6 likes
“The truth is that this was something over which I had no control and the question is not why but what. What am I going to do with this? What am I going to make of it?” 2 likes
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