Half Baked: The Story Of My Nerves, My Newborn, And How We Both Learned To Breathe

  • ISBN13: 9780762439461
  • Condition: New
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  • Manufacturer: Running Press
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 heartfelt memoir.
From the indignities of infertility treatments to managing bedrest and parenting a preemie (how does one wrangle an oxygen tank while changing a diaper?), Alexa recounts her rocky road to motherhood with a uniquely sharp, funny, yet poignant voice.

Customer Reviews

An introspective and often irreverent memoir, truly touching, June 8, 2010
By A. Reid

I'm a sucker for a memoir, so the moment this one arrived in my house I put down everything else and curled up with it. I couldn't stay that way - somebody has to take the kid to the dentist's office, after all - but I gave it every minute I could until I finished, moments ago. Alexa Stevenson's book is absolutely gripping. Funny? I laughed, a lot. Heartbreaking? I cried, ditto. Heartwarming? Stevenson feels like my sister, my new best friend. Such is the illusion of intimacy created by a well-written memoir...and *this* is a well-written memoir. She's got a knack for a striking turn of phrase that bypasses the "cliche guard" center of the brain and makes everything seem vivid and immediate. It doesn't feel like she's writing for the masses (of which I'm but one). It feels like she sat down with me and told me her story herself.

It's quite a story. Stevenson takes us through defining her infertility, tackling it, and coping with the difficult pregnancy and premature birth that follow. Through the (literally) dark days of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she shares the process of finishing the baking (to borrow her metaphor) as her micropreemie matures.

One of Stevenson's strengths as a writer, and I rather suspect as a person, is her unflinching self-reflection. She does not sugarcoat her story. While she may, like all good writers, pick and choose her details in crafting her tale, she does not paint herself as the tragic heroine or even the plucky survivor. Some of her story presents her in a good light, some is considerably less flattering, but it combines to make her feel human and real.

Another of her key characteristics is her irreverent sense of humor. Sometimes the book is as grim as the situations that inspired it, but Stevenson's ability to laugh seems irrepressible. It inevitably resurfaces. She is not afraid to poke at sacred cows, and she can find funny in some pretty dark places. I suspect, honestly, that this may challenge some readers. If the ability to laugh while hurting is not one you share (or at least admire), you might want to find a more somber memoir. For me, I found it delightful. I've chuckled my way through a number of tragedies in my own life, and it was just one more way I felt connected to her. And in my opinion Stevenson never crosses the line. Her humor may be irreverent at times, but it always has heart.

There is nothing half baked about Stevenson's book. It's a well-crafted work of non-fiction. She draws her readers in with evocative prose, balances tears and laughter, teaches and touches. I recommend.

Pulls no punches here, June 24, 2010
By M. Garrison

This memoir is about the author's experience with her complicated pregnancy, early delivery, and then life with a 25-week micropreemie -- first the harrowing months in the NICU with the roller coaster ups and downs, and then the equally challenging transition to life at home without constant medical support. I found it really eye-opening in a lot of ways, but here are some of the things I liked best:

* She makes it ok to laugh at some of the ridiculousness and high drama of it all.

* She does a great job of showing how personality differences affected how people coped with the constant fear a NICU can bring. She admits upfront that she had a lot of anxiety about everything before this ever happened, and had often coped by over-researching (nice to know I'm not the only one!), but you also get to see other people handling it in different ways. There are too many books out there where it seems like the author is insisting that their emotional reaction is the only valid one, and that's fortunately not the case here.

* You really get to see the bond and relationships that develop with the different nurses and doctors, and how some of those relationships are much smoother than others.

* She talks about what's going on in the medical sense without getting bogged down in all the clinical and technical details.

Definitely a book I'd recommend -- although probably *not* to anyone currently pregnant or dealing with a more run-of-the-mill, short and uncomplicated NICU stay.

Absolutely, without reservations, fantastic!, June 25, 2010
By Suzanne Amara

When I first read the back of this book and saw the glowing words of review, I thought "That sounds a little overhyped". It only took me about a minute of reading to say "They might not be" and by the end of this wonderful memoir, I was in total, complete agreement with them. This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and I've read plenty.

The basic story---Alexa Stevenson goes through infertility treatment, gets pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. The boys dies during the pregnancy, and the girl, Simone, is born at 25 weeks. This is the story of the pregnancy, NICU stay and first few months at home. It's a story that's been done a lot, but not like this. The best thing about the writing is how funny it is. You wouldn't think there'd be much humor in this situation, but there is, and I was laughing my head off over and over during my reading. There are also many amazing phrases and insights. I often do the evil thing of folding over a page to remember the best parts of a book, and this book is all folded up. A few examples...my favorite---Alexa's reaction to people who say "I could never do what you did". I HATE that. I get it a lot, as I have a low-functioning autistic daughter. The answer is, as Alexa says, of course you could and would. What choice do you have? I loved her honesty about anger she felt at nasty nurses, and her extreme love of nice nurses. I've been there---my older son is almost 16 now, but a few remarks made by jerky doctors or nurses while he was in the NICU still are fresh and still can make me furious. Her great line "I prepared for the wrong thing. I didn't prepare for this". She is a worrier, a tribe I also belong to, and I know just what she means. You prepare through research and reading for all kinds of scary things, and then the thing that comes along is something totally different. And since she is like me, a believer in jinxes, of course that makes it all somewhat your fault.

All I can say in conclusion is READ THIS! If you have a child that was in the NICU, if you had a difficult pregnancy, if you have a child with special medical needs, or if you just like to read very well written memoirs, READ THIS!

Wonderful book!, September 13, 2010
By smbzyx

I don't normally read memoirs, but as I had been following Alexa Stevenson online for several years, I was looking forward to her book. She is an amazing writer -- very witty and slyly poignant. She tells the sometimes very hard-to-hear story of her stillborn son and premature daughter without ever becoming maudlin or slipping into self-pity. This insider's look into the world of the NICU is fascinating, and I hope it reaches a wide audience. Alexa's story is heartbreaking and touching and also funny and entertaining. I think Alexa has a very unique voice and I look forward to reading more of her work. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

Infertility? Anxiety? NICU? Honest, humorous, gripping, superb, September 5, 2010
By J. Molloy

Been on the infertility rollercoaster? Thought you were the only one who had those crazy thoughts before, during AND after? Alexa Stevenson reveals those raw, insane thoughts during her wild ride on the rollercoaster of infertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and the ups and downs of a premature baby in the NICU. She shares her experience with us in an uniquely honest, witty way. I couldn't put it down! If I could give it 10 stars I honestly would. This is the best infertility memoire out there!

Uncommonly well-written, August 30, 2010
By Jaida Butler

Like many of the previous reviewers, I like a good memoir. However, all too often a memoir is a really interesting story, but not really well written. It's so rare to have an author with such a gift for words have the opportunity to chronicle a life experience in this way. The book flows well, keeps the reader engaged and invested, and best of all while the ending is not a surprise (you know her daughter is alive today), there is plenty there to keep you reading. For those who have been following her blog, this is a nice complement to what Alexa chose to share at the time of the events. Highly, unreservedly recommend.

Just lovely. And real., August 4, 2010
By Nic

A wonderful memoir about tragedy and loss as well as how one woman triumphed and is carrying on. A lot of the other reviews have mentioned that this is the story of a mom of twins who lost one twin and the other was born very early. The aspect of the book I really appreciated were her stories of her anxiety, which you might have guessed from the subtitle including "my nerves", I suppose. All told very realistically, but with a very good sense of humor. I found I couldn't put it down once I got it in the mail. It is an easy, quick, absorbing read, absorbing and easy to follow. Perfect for moms and not-yet-moms alike. She is a wonderful writer.

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