In the span of three months, Tami Gaines went from a successful working mom and mother of two to a single mother, pregnant with twins and dealing with a cold and distant husband who decided to abandon his family when Gaines refused to abort the surprise twins he did not want to have.  Over the course of those trying months, Gaines, using her faith, resilience, tenacity, family support, and strength, successfully navigated the challenges of life within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after delivering her boy/girl twins at a mere 25 weeks gestation.
After triumphing through those turbulent, emotional and soul-testing times, Gaines emerged stronger than ever with four vibrant and thriving children and has since become a premiere advocate for premature babies.  An estimated 500,000 babies are born premature each year.
The Columbia MBA- graduate  and former corporate executive shares her journey in a guide book for other preemie parents in the recently released, Preemie Parents 26 Ways to Grow with your Premature Baby. Inside the covers of the 140 -page part memoir, part guide, part resource book, readers can look forward to getting emotionally committed to the story which led to Gaines having to become a single preemie parent to twins in the first place. I personally got enthralled in her recounting of events and could not put down the book because it is delivered in reflective but still casual and instructive format and style. I ached  while reading about the initial pressures she dealt with after her husband moved out of their bedroom, moved into the single room in the house and started a life as a single man leaving Gaines to deal with a difficult pregnancy and nurture their two daughters on her own.
Gaines has become a true advocate for premature babies and support for parents of preemies.
After the initial story, starting with a pneumonic P.E.A.C.E. which stands for the five principles that guided and influence Gaines during her journey, the 26 chapters are actually divided into terms and phrases starting with a letter of the alphabet beginning with Advocate and ending with Zero in: focus.  (Why not call it the ABCs of growing with your premature baby, I don’t know, but I digress?).

She is not preachy and neither comes off as judgmental and by sharing the vulnerabilities, self-blame and the low points that she endured with her audience, she becomes relatable to her readers who may have or may be currently suffering through similar turmoil. Gaines also infuses  in the book strategies for assembling allies and partners in the NICU from nurses and hospital staff.  For example, she shared in one of several “Tami Time” sidebars that she always requests that a nurse be with her during any conversation she’d have with the neonatologist. The purpose was to use the nurses as an interpreter, and have an emotional supporter there as well.  Seems methodical, but it isn’t. You can tell that her training in business and spirituality are the sources for these strategies. They  probably came as instinctual to her and what is natural to her can be resourceful and helpful to others.  Preemie Parents is instructional and very conversational.  The illustrations by Roni Orlina in the book match very well with each sentiment expressed within the book and the simplistic stick figures mixed with whimsical color create a sense of calm that a preemie parent may need at that time having to deal with layers and layers of other “stuff.”  Not all people may be able to relate to each of the 26 steps but just by reading them, they are provided perspective.  Sometimes, perspective is all you need.
Overall, Preemie Parents is a quick read and is a must-have gift for any parent of premature baby or babies.  I highly recommend it! Available for $15.95 (retail).*
*A review copy was sent complimentary to Bellyitch.

Written by JJ at Bellitch

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