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This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Vicki Forman gave birth to Evan and Ellie at twenty-three weeks gestation and weighing just a pound at birth. 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 resuscitation ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2009)
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Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 doctors disrega ...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. ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful, thought-provoking book. A story that was heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Forman is an extraordinary writer.
Stephen Gallup
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: would-be parents.
Shelves: 4-star, non-fiction
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
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
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, memoirs
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
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the mama of 23 week twins who were not taken to the NICU, I absolutely could not put this book down. Just as the author dares to wonder what her life would have been without heroic measures, she gave me a glimpse of the life I always suspected lay on the other side of our family's circumstantial door. The what ifs of this kind of parenthood are a constant plague, and she does such a brilliant job of demonstrating how we all love our children as fiercely and as long as we possibly can, even in ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Julianna Franco
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman is one of the best books that I have ever read. This memoir is terrifying, honest, and beautiful. Last week, at dinner, my parents and I had a conversation about the quality of life and our definitions of living. I explained that I don’t ever want to “live” in a hospital bed, unable to talk or move. We all agreed but the conversation led to our own deaths, death with dignity, and having children with severe disabilities.
After reading the first few lines of the
Eliza Spear
Mar 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book because it made me think about moral dilemmas created by modern medicine, specifically for parents. While I may never be a Mom, I do like learning about all kinds of life experiences and I did learn a lot from this memoire. As medicine develops to increase survival from all kind of maladies, does it decide FOR us and our unborn children when to live or die? After the doctors and nurses save your babies life in an extreme early term delivery, do they give the parent ba ...more
L. Annette Binder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle Roux
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vicki Forman writes a raw and heart-breaking account of the birth of her extremely premature twins born "on the edge of viability." Her honest and emotional reactions are relatable - I imagine that I would feel how she did had I gone through what she had. Through the unbearable pain and suffering, there is also love, and dare I say it... joy. Upon finishing this book, the reader is made to reflect on the fragility of life, and what it truly means to be a mother, no matter the circumstances. Than ...more
Sharon Orlopp
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about the true journey of twins born at week 24.
Karen C
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Heartbreaking. The part that made me cry? The giving of the handbag, because it was such a simple act of kindness in a maelstrom of heartache.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
heart-wrenching and incredible
Nhi (Huong) Tran
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to understand some terms but a good sad book~
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for this stunning heartbreaker.
Melissa Killion
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I’m not even a mother but this mother’s story captivated me. Kudos to any mom who has had premature babies or Chavez list a child.
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a similar experience to the author of this book, giving birth to twins at twenty three weeks. I clung to this book for dear life in the months and years following that experience. Because I hoped, simultaneously, for both life and death for those two tiny people who were my children. This book was an honest reflection of that ambivalence, that sudden plunge into an icy cold motherhood that nobody expects or plans for.

'I had only one wish: to let them go.'

But, as the author and I were to d
The main reason I read this book, was that I decided to do a challenge to read certain books throughout the year, and one of the challenges was to read a book by an author with my same initials. I looked through the catalog of books at the Library and came across this one, and then read a synopsis of the book, and knew I needed to read it.
I am glad I read it, but it made me realize that I fell down on something I received by revelation many years ago, that I need to write a book of what I know.
Kelly Hager
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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The Seasonal Read...: Susan's Review 1 23 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

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