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Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  635 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Author Alexa Stevenson had spent most of her life preparing for the wrong disasters. When her daughter is born 15 weeks early, she is plunged into the strange half-light of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where she learns the Zen of medical uncertainty and makes the surprising discovery that a worst-case scenario may just be the best thing thatOCOs ever happened to her. T ...more
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Published August 1st 2010 by Running Press Book Publishers
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another memoir written by the parent of a NICU baby. i had no idea there were so many books like this out there! & i'd never stumbled across a single one until i had my own NICU baby (though a 32 weeks, ramona was considered merely "moderately premature").

stevenson starts her story with her struggles to conceive, which was also something i could relate to. though she finally conceived through IVF & i didn't have to go that far. she gets pregnant with twins & then suffers the nightma
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half Baked is another one of those books that needs a 1/2 star option. It wasn't quite a 4 star read for me, but didn't deserve 3 stars either. I rounded up to 4 because I'm not really a memoir person. As far as memoirs go, though, this is a pretty good one. Like all memoirs, there's just too much narcissism there. Of course, it comes with plenty of introspection. All the same, though, memoirs are not my favorite genre, so to be fair, I didn't want to shortchange Alexa Stevenson with a three sta ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My GOD this was a compelling read! I couldn't put it down. It's also not for the faint of heart -- if you're squeamish about medical stuff or have a history of fertility, miscarriage, or child loss, it could be very tough to make it through.

Alexa Stevenson goes through some ROUGH TIMES (massive, massive understatement) in her journey to become a mother and bring her daughter home, and yet I found myself laughing at something on almost every page. There were single sentences that made me laugh,
Jan 18, 2011 added it
I kept thinking as I was reading this book...this has no relevance to my life...yet there was something that kept me coming back to it. I had a little trouble at first getting use to the writer's style. She tries too hard for humor. Once I acknowledged that to myself (about the 2nd chapter) I was able to enjoy it and just accept it as her quirky personality. I also learned something about myself. Just as she had more anxiety before she was a mother, rather than after, so did I. Not to the extent ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have been a regular follower (a lurker, to be honest) on Alexa's blog since before her daughter was born. I've always loved her writing style on the blog so I eagerly anticipated this book. I hoped it would have more new material--it felt like there was little that hadn't been covered on the blog--but I would still highly recommend this book, especially to those not already familiar with Alexa and Simone's story. She's an engaging writer,and the memoir manages to make a very scary/sad situatio ...more
Janine Kovac
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it
As a mom of micropreemies myself, this was a tough read for me. I kept the book in the bathroom and read it one paragraph at a time. Took me six months to finish it (which, come to think of it, is exactly as long as my pregnancy was). I liked Alexa Stevenson's stream of consciousness kind of manner and really enjoyed her sense of humor. But the subject matter was hard to read about (for me--too many memories).

Micropreemies = sad.

I thought the Epilogue was brilliant, though. That's where she addr
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made me laugh, cry, and be thankful for my full-term Evan.

Just re-read this (4/2013) because now that I've been through the premature baby/NICU experience I wanted to revisit Stevenson's story. She had a more harrowing time than I did with my preemie (he was 30 weeks and didn't suffer any complications), so it made me even more thankful.
Liz Ellis
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good. Pregnant with twins, loses one, has another at 25 weeks. 3 month stay in the NICU. Funny and heartbreaking and completely honest about everything.
Laura Ghory
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. It was the first one I have read in awhile where i found myself reading way past my bedtime because I needed to know what happened next. It was amazing to me that she was able to inflect so much humor in such a difficult part of her life but I appreciated the look into the NICU world. I related to her infertility challenges and also her anxiety and she is a wonderful storyteller.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing. I am a mom of twin micro-preemies myself, so reading about the journey of this mom through NICU was very similar in many ways. It was difficult to process the rambling about her anxieties, however, it was still a great read.
Amanda Morgan
Having a baby is an exciting and scary life-altering event. Add in a first-time mother whose history includes a stay in a mental hospital, a highly nervous temperament even on her best days, and has been trying to get pregnant to no avail up until the point when In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) finally accomplished the task. That’s a recipe for exponential neurosis.
Alexa Stevenson tells her tale of getting pregnant, her high-risk pregnancy, as well as the outcome in, “Half Baked: The Story of My Ne
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, parenting
This was excellent.

As the book begins, Alexa Stevenson is your average, slightly-neurotic, married American 20-something trying to get (and stay) pregnant. Anxiety drives her to do deep research, learning more about reproduction than most of her specialists, and by the time she finally learns she's carrying twins she figures she knows all the possible risks. At 19 weeks, the odds of having a couple of healthy babies are in her favor. And then things start to go wrong, and she finds out that no m
Chelsey Langland
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I've read her blog - Flotsam - for ages. Sometimes it seems odd to read the book of a blogger, because you feel like you know the person and you're not sure what to expect.

Anyway, Alexa conceived twins via IVF. The boy died in utero at about 22 weeks. The girl was delivered at 25 weeks and change. She's about 2.5 now and doing well, and I've read every blog post since a couple of months into Simone's NICU stay.

The good = she did a remarkable job of capturing what it's like to have a child in the
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I'm the mom of twins who were born at 25 weeks, one of whom was in the NICU for 105 days, one of whom was hospitalized or in a care facility for 3 years. So, I get Stevenson is headed.

This book rang true to my experiences. Much of it I could have written because there are so many similarities. Given that, though, I'm not sure as a NICU graduate I wanted to relieve it and I'm also not sure that if I hadn't been a NICU grad that I'd really get it.

There were parts, such as where sh
Catherine Shattuck
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure I can analyze why I didn't enjoy this book, but I didn't much like it. There were parts that I read with gusto, but equally well there were parts that I yawned through, or skimmed. It's a memoir of a woman who gave birth to a baby at 25 weeks gestational age, a micro-preemie as they're called. But she doesn't give birth until page 100; up until then, she talks about IVF in excruciating detail, and sets the stage for her crisis -- not the medical crisis, although there's that, too, b ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I find it hard to rate books sometimes. Books earn stars because they are really well written, or moving, or entertaining, or have meaning to you personally. Sometimes one of those reasons affects your rating.
I didn't know what to expect from this book and had it for a while before reading even though I had a preemie myself. I was glad when I finally did pick it up. Alexa somehow manages to make a frightening and sad experience hilarious! I totally got her humor. Maybe if you have not spent time
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I discovered Alexa's blog when she was half-way through the pregnancy that she describes in this book; a pregnancy that with extreme understatement I can call unbelievably harrowing. This memoir fascinates with incident but succeeds because of authorial voice: she writes honestly and strikingly about anger, anxiety, sorrow, and profound depths of grief. It is also one of the most successful blog to book transitions I have read, probably because the experience of keeping the blog becomes one of t ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love memoirs, but another memoir about motherhood wasn't something I was looking for. However, I picked this book up because it was on my "to-read list" and on the library bookshelf. Wow! I'm sure glad I did!

Alexa Stevenson has written a hysterically funny tale of her journey through infertility, IVF treatments, pregnancy, multiple miscarriages, a premature birth, and her daughter's many early medical complications. Alexa gave birth to her daughter 15 weeks early at less than 2 pounds. She wri
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazon
Well, I loved it. I couldn't put it down, and that's quite a recommendation considering I've read her blog for years, including all the way through her pregnancy through today. Still couldn't get enough of Alexa and her funny, witty way of conveying everything from the horrifying to the sublime.
When my water broke early when I was pregnant with Ben, I spent a lot of my time in the hospital trying to remember what Alexa had said on her blog about her and Simone's experiences in the NICU. (My lapt
May 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I both expected and wanted to like this book, because of its poignant subject matter, but I really didn't. The book was fraught with unnecessary jargon and language that felt plucked directly from a thesaurus. I like big words as much as the next person, but here they served no purpose other than to distance the reader from the story and just felt completely wrong and out of place. Ironically, while this story probably represents the single most worst time in the author's life, she was unable to ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-in-2011, library
I didn't love the writer's style, and to agree with another reviewer here, I thought she tried wayyyyy too hard to be funny. There is enough humor to be found in what she decided to write about surrounding a sad situation. I also hated the epilogue that stated she picked every work purposely for its meaning--it was like reading a thesaurus. Memoirs are one of my favorite types of books, and they're hard to do well. I couldn't do it! But they should be told like a story, not try to make the reade ...more
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I began reading Alexa's blog just before she brought her preemie from the NICU. I was immediately taken by her mix of deep-hearted vulnerability and irreverent humor. Plus this girl can turn a phrase like a dreidel. (Favorite example, which also illustrates the "irreverent humor" thing: She describes a particular medical device used on her baby as "like something thought up by the Marquis de Sade's less conventional cousin, the one the Marquis never invited to Christmas Dinner because he was int ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything you've heard is true: this is really, really good. Yes, memoirs about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting - even through trying or tragic circumstances - are everywhere... but you'd be hard-pressed to find many that are rendered in a more articulate, moving and deeply funny fashion. Stevenson's voice as a writer is exceptionally strong, and her ability to filter the book's events through her own terrifically warped and unique perspective casts everything (from the most mundane details ...more
Author Alexa Stevenson had spent most of her life preparing for the wrong disasters. When her daughter is born 15 weeks early, she is plunged into the strange half-light of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where she learns the Zen of medical uncertainty and makes the surprising discovery that a worst-case scenario may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. The absurdities of the medical system, grappling with mortality, and coming into one’s own are all explored in this wryly heartf ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always like when a particularly good writer or journalist turns her pen to an important event or issue in her own life. This book is surprisingly funny, given that it deals with miscarriage, a stillborn, and an extremely premature birth. I appreciate that Stevenson is unafraid of using humor during such a tumultuous time (though I wouldn't have been surprised if I had been reading her blog, as her black humor is one of her signatures). I also felt like she's a kindred spirit in worry. I would ...more
To say I loved this book is an understatement. I laughed and cried before I was halfway through the first page of the Prologue. Alexia Stevenson's willingness to share such an honest view of an experience that casts the word "challenging" in a totally different light allowed me to recall the worst days of my life with a different perspective. She's correct when she says we find the strength once we need it, and we just get through. Hers (and perhaps mine) is a terrible story turned into a beauti ...more
Jennifer D. Munro
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
She's a terrific writer, who often can put a funny twist (usually a metaphor) in the most unexpected, dark places. I appreciate that kind of humor. When she compared her memory to what she'd written in her blog, that pulled me out of the narrative, and I kept wishing she had just stuck with her memory and not kept referring to what she'd written in the blog. But on the whole, I enjoyed this memoir a lot, not just for the parts about infertility treatments (a pool I've tipped my toe into), but fo ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Alexa was kind enough to donate a copy of her book to our NICU's family resource library, and I have spent the past two days hoarding it so I could read it before releasing it to the masses. As a NICU nurse, I so appreciate reading accounts like these of what a family goes through when their baby is in the NICU. It reminds me how it is about so much more than my ability to put in an IV or maintain an oxygen saturation. NICU nursing has to be personal, and Simone's story is a great reminder of th ...more
Carol E.
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-books
Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe by Alexa Stevenson is a book about a couple's harrowing journey through infertility, conception, a very premature birth and all the trauma that goes with life hanging on the edge. It's an interesting book; I think the right audience would love this book. My main objection is the ending kind of dragged on and on. "Alright, already!" I felt like shouting. Otherwise, well written and a very interesting saga of a scar ...more
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ah, there's nothing I love more than a funny memoir about something scary. This author has a great, dark sense of humor that helped keep her sane after grueling fertility treatments, the death of one twin in the womb, and the premature birth of the other. As a compulsive worrier, I was especially interested to see how her day-to-day fearfulness sort of evaporated in the face of Keeping Her Baby Alive, Damn It. (Also: lots of groovy scientific stuff about neonatology.) I hope she writes another b ...more
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