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Early: An Intimate History of Premature Birth and What It Teaches Us About Being Human

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Inspired by Sarah DiGregorios harrowing experience giving birth to her premature daughter, Early is a compelling and empathetic blend of memoir and rigorous reporting that tells the story of neonatology and explores the questions raised by premature birth. Early is a definitive history of neonatology, written with urgency and clarity, beauty and compassion. DiGregorio Inspired by Sarah DiGregorio’s harrowing experience giving birth to her premature daughter, Early is a compelling and empathetic blend of memoir and rigorous reporting that tells the story of neonatology – and explores the questions raised by premature birth. ‘Early is a definitive history of neonatology, written with urgency and clarity, beauty and compassion. DiGregorio is at once a clear-eyed reporter and a mother who has lived through the reality of neonatal intensive care, and her balance of the two narrative strands is pitch-perfect. A popular science book that deserves its place among the best’ Francesca Segal, author of Mother ShipThe heart of many hospitals is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It is a place where humanity, ethics, and science collide in dramatic and deeply personal ways as parents, doctors, and nurses grapple with sometimes unanswerable questions: When does life begin? When and how should life end? And what does it mean to be human?The NICU is a place made of stories – the stories of mothers and babies who spend days, weeks and even months waiting to go home, and the dedicated clinicians who care for these tiny, developing humans. Early explores these stories, as well as the evolution of neonatology and its breakthroughs – how modern medicine can be successful at saving infants at five and a half months gestation who weigh less than a pound, when only a few decades ago there were essentially no treatments for premature babies.For the first time, Sarah DiGregorio tells the complete story of this science – and the many people it has touched. Weaving her own experiences, those of other parents, and NICU clinicians with deeply researched reporting, Early delves deep into the history and future of neonatology, one of the most boundary pushing medical disciplines: how it came to be, how it is evolving, and the political, cultural, and ethical issues that continue to arise in the face of dramatic scientific developments.Eye-opening and vital, Early uses premature birth as a lens to view our own humanity, and the humanity of those around us.


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Inspired by Sarah DiGregorios harrowing experience giving birth to her premature daughter, Early is a compelling and empathetic blend of memoir and rigorous reporting that tells the story of neonatology and explores the questions raised by premature birth. Early is a definitive history of neonatology, written with urgency and clarity, beauty and compassion. DiGregorio Inspired by Sarah DiGregorio’s harrowing experience giving birth to her premature daughter, Early is a compelling and empathetic blend of memoir and rigorous reporting that tells the story of neonatology – and explores the questions raised by premature birth. ‘Early is a definitive history of neonatology, written with urgency and clarity, beauty and compassion. DiGregorio is at once a clear-eyed reporter and a mother who has lived through the reality of neonatal intensive care, and her balance of the two narrative strands is pitch-perfect. A popular science book that deserves its place among the best’ Francesca Segal, author of Mother ShipThe heart of many hospitals is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It is a place where humanity, ethics, and science collide in dramatic and deeply personal ways as parents, doctors, and nurses grapple with sometimes unanswerable questions: When does life begin? When and how should life end? And what does it mean to be human?The NICU is a place made of stories – the stories of mothers and babies who spend days, weeks and even months waiting to go home, and the dedicated clinicians who care for these tiny, developing humans. Early explores these stories, as well as the evolution of neonatology and its breakthroughs – how modern medicine can be successful at saving infants at five and a half months gestation who weigh less than a pound, when only a few decades ago there were essentially no treatments for premature babies.For the first time, Sarah DiGregorio tells the complete story of this science – and the many people it has touched. Weaving her own experiences, those of other parents, and NICU clinicians with deeply researched reporting, Early delves deep into the history and future of neonatology, one of the most boundary pushing medical disciplines: how it came to be, how it is evolving, and the political, cultural, and ethical issues that continue to arise in the face of dramatic scientific developments.Eye-opening and vital, Early uses premature birth as a lens to view our own humanity, and the humanity of those around us.

30 review for Early: An Intimate History of Premature Birth and What It Teaches Us About Being Human

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Crotty

    So interesting. My grandson was born at 28 weeks so when I saw this book it really piqued my curiosity. I saw him and my daughter on so many pages. It was heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. So much information and history in this book. Even if you dont have a preemie in your family you would still learn so much and enjoy this. I highly recommend this book. These babies are champions of how we should all live our lives. So brave and beautiful. I can not imagine our lives without So interesting. My grandson was born at 28 weeks so when I saw this book it really piqued my curiosity. I saw him and my daughter on so many pages. It was heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. So much information and history in this book. Even if you don’t have a preemie in your family you would still learn so much and enjoy this. I highly recommend this book. These babies are champions of how we should all live our lives. So brave and beautiful. I can not imagine our lives without “little sprout.” Jaxson is joy personified every single day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    LibraryLaur

    I have a personal interest in this topic (my second child was born at 30 weeks), and I found this book fascinating. Well-written and engaging, it covered a lot of ground, from the history of neonatology to its future. It also included the author's personal story of having a premature baby, as well as other parents' stories, and a lot of thought-provoking statistics. *Thanks to the publisher for making an e-galley available for review through edelweiss!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    An informative and thought-provoking treatise that takes a deep-dive into the historical, sociocultural, and political influences on our current understanding of preterm birth. DiGregorio does not shy away from difficult or taboo conversations and dispels a number of myths surrounding this subject. I appreciated her ability to seamlessly interweave the facts with numerous moving anecdotes. I recommend this book to anyone interested or involved in maternal health care and neonatology.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    4.5 stars. Wow. I could read DiGregorio write about cereal boxes. I started this book intending just to read her personal story of delivering a preemie, but I quickly found myself devouring this entire book. DiGregorio's investigation of preemie care past, present and future is fascinating. She clearly has a stake in the game, and her interest and personal story propel this well researched book. A fascinating, can't stop turning the pages account of how we've handled premature birth in the past, 4.5 stars. Wow. I could read DiGregorio write about cereal boxes. I started this book intending just to read her personal story of delivering a preemie, but I quickly found myself devouring this entire book. DiGregorio's investigation of preemie care past, present and future is fascinating. She clearly has a stake in the game, and her interest and personal story propel this well researched book. A fascinating, can't stop turning the pages account of how we've handled premature birth in the past, how hospitals handle it today (this varies widely), the various reasons premature birth happens (including the stress of systemic racism) and where experts want to go with preemie care in the near future. If you have the slightest interest in any of the above, pick this book up! This completely changed how I view premature babies, and makes me appreciate even more that my son held on until 39 weeks. My experience would have been very different if he'd been born when I started having contractions at 31 weeks. I would not recommend this to women who are currently pregnant. Highly recommended. I hope she writes more books. Recommended for fans of Mary Roach.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emi

    As a NICU nurse, I started reading this book cautiously, prepared to critique and criticize anything that might be misrepresented. But I was so pleased to discover that it surpassed my expectations by a long-shot. The author is an incredibly eloquent writer who is thorough and well-researched. She tackles every facet of preterm birth from the history (and potential future) of neonatology, to the role of racism in maternal healthcare and early deliveries, to the delicate and heart-breaking matter As a NICU nurse, I started reading this book cautiously, prepared to critique and criticize anything that might be misrepresented. But I was so pleased to discover that it surpassed my expectations by a long-shot. The author is an incredibly eloquent writer who is thorough and well-researched. She tackles every facet of preterm birth from the history (and potential future) of neonatology, to the role of racism in maternal healthcare and early deliveries, to the delicate and heart-breaking matter of end-of-life and infant hospice, and much more. I was very impressed and would recommend this book to anyone who likes good writing based on solid research, and/or who has any interest in or connection to the mysterious world of the NICU.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre Lohrmann

    I would recommend this book to everyone. There are a lot of important facts and opinions which needed to be spoken about premature births and how hospitals and nursing practices have changed when handling preemies. My child was a preemie by only a month but this book really spoke to me. The problems that are out there and not addressed from multiple points. From racial stressors leading to premature birth to lack of medical care and support. There is no one cause for preemies to be born as early I would recommend this book to everyone. There are a lot of important facts and opinions which needed to be spoken about premature births and how hospitals and nursing practices have changed when handling preemies. My child was a preemie by only a month but this book really spoke to me. The problems that are out there and not addressed from multiple points. From racial stressors leading to premature birth to lack of medical care and support. There is no one cause for preemies to be born as early as they are but they are. Each case is different There is hope for parents of preemies from just a few weeks early to months.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Simpson

    Caring for them [premature babies] is like touching some essence, something you arent supposed to see: the terrible beauty of a human being built, gorgeous and unknowable. Although I enjoyed it, Id be hesitant to recommend unless its a population or topic you are particularly interested in. However, its a really remarkable book on prematurity and neonatology. Gave such beautiful language to the incredible little world Im so fortunate get to call work during the week. “Caring for them [premature babies] is like touching some essence, something you aren’t supposed to see: the terrible beauty of a human being built, gorgeous and unknowable.” Although I enjoyed it, I’d be hesitant to recommend unless it’s a population or topic you are particularly interested in. However, it’s a really remarkable book on prematurity and neonatology. Gave such beautiful language to the incredible little world I’m so fortunate get to call “work” during the week.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    A huge surprise 5 star book! I just picked this up when I saw it on the library app and it blew me away. Very thorough and thoughtful with a holistic take on preterm births, what their incidence says about the health of society, the lives of birthing parents, and lifelong consideration of preterm babies. Also, majorly surprised that a huge portion of the book looked at my hometown Shreveport. A must read for anyone who works in healthcare, especially early intervention.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Go Livia

    After attending Sarahs book introduction talk, I was so in awe of her work. My partner decided to get me her book at the end of the night. Her curiosity let her to a very educational journey and I am grateful that she used that to share her experience. Its very accessible to read and moving. She is a great storyteller and I would love to see more of her work. We need more strong and brave people like her who uses their strength and experience to educate ourselves. After attending Sarah’s book introduction talk, I was so in awe of her work. My partner decided to get me her book at the end of the night. Her curiosity let her to a very educational journey and I am grateful that she used that to share her experience. It’s very accessible to read and moving. She is a great storyteller and I would love to see more of her work. We need more strong and brave people like her who uses their strength and experience to educate ourselves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    With my wife being a 6 week premature, low-birth weight twin who survived with limited medical advances 70 years ago, this was a very interesting read to me. It was a great exploration of how far medical science has evolved in caring for the extremely premature infant and some of the ethical issues that result.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Very insightful as I have been caring for more and more NICU graduates, as they transfer to our unit before going home (Feeding and growing). Also fun to read about Dr. Flake and Dr. Partridge and their research, as one of their surgical Nurse Practitioners 😉. Very well written. Should be a must read for others in the medical field. Very insightful as I have been caring for more and more “NICU graduates”, as they transfer to our unit before going home (“Feeding and growing”). Also fun to read about Dr. Flake and Dr. Partridge and their research, as one of their surgical Nurse Practitioners 😉. Very well written. Should be a must read for others in the medical field.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Ya

    I work in a Nicu as a child life specialist. I found this book informative & insightful and it will definitely improve my practice. I appreciate all the research that went into making this, and opening my eyes to a lot of things I was unaware of such as: group prenatal care & how racism can lead to prematurity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elliot

    i couldn't put it down

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michele Baltay

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeanmarie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristen V-g

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Bossons

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  21. 4 out of 5

    Todd Kempel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Claire Noltemeyer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Maitland

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Dandurand

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Francis

  26. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Gerrity

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ena

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie

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