Melissa Harris is the author of the new memoir One Pound, Twelve Ounces: A Preemie Mother's Story of Loss, Hope, and Triumph. She lives in Oakland, California.
Q: What inspired you to write this memoir about your son's premature birth?
A: When I had my son, I craved information – specifically first-hand information from other parents who had gone through what I was going through. There is something comforting – even hopeful - in reading about other people’s success stories.
What I found was limited. Either everything was written by a doctor who had experienced premature birth or leaned heavily into prematurity being part of God’s plan. Neither of those fit what I wanted. I knew I had a story to tell, and I knew that my story might help someone.
Q: In the book, you describe some very difficult and harrowing experiences. How did writing the book affect you?
A: The process of writing the book was extremely cathartic. I had kept a daily blog while my son was in the NICU and that honestly saved me. I never revisited what I wrote until I started on the book. It was emotional to relive everything, but at the same time, I think it helped me heal.
I don’t remember much of those 95 days I spent in the NICU – or at least not every part of it. I buried many of the more difficult days. Writing the book allowed me to relook at those experiences and feel them in a new way. When the book was done, I felt whole again.
Q: How is your son doing now?
A: As I type this, I am looking at his 11th birthday gifts that I need to wrap. My kid is amazing. Unless you knew he was a micro-preemie, you would never know it by looking at him. Sure he needs glasses to see the chalkboard. Yes, he sometimes has issues with constipation, but really he has no lingering issues from his premature birth.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from your story?
A: Hope. Really, I want people to have hope. I suffered miscarriages, secondary infertility and the premature birth of my son. But I am still here. I am thriving. My son is thriving. I am not saying everything will turn out perfect for everyone, but you can get through it. You can survive it. There is hope out there.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now, I am focused on my book launch and solo parenting two kids.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Premature birth is more common than people realize (1 in 8 births). I would just encourage anyone out there who is going through premature birth – or miscarriage – or infertility – to be open and honest with those around you.
This is not something to feel shame around. Suffering in silence doesn’t do anyone any good. Lean on people. Talk to people. Be supported or even inspired by those around you.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb