Vicki Forman gave birth to Evan and Ellie, weighing just a pound at birth, at twenty-three weeks’ gestation. During the delivery she begged the doctors to "let her babies go" — she knew all too well that at twenty-three weeks they could very well die and, if they survived, they would face a high risk of permanent disabilities. However, California law demanded resuscitation. Her daughter died just four days later; her son survived and was indeed multiply disabled: blind, nonverbal, and dependent on a feeding tube.
This Lovely Life tells, with brilliant intensity, of what became of the Forman family after the birth of the twins — the harrowing medical interventions and ethical considerations involving the sanctity of life and death. In the end, the longdelayed first steps of a five-year-old child will seem like the fist-pumping stuff of a triumph narrative. Forman’s intelligent voice gives a sensitive, nuanced rendering of her guilt, her anger, and her eventual acceptance in this portrait of a mother’s fierce love for her children.
Forman's enormously affecting memoir-winner of the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Bakeless Prize-about the drastic disabilities of her extremely premature child poses challenging questions about parenthood and human compassion. Having given birth to twins at just six months' gestation (23 weeks), due to an undetected infection she learned of only much later, the author, living with her husband and three-year-old daughter in Southern California, and aware of the daunting health issues facing these babies, begged the doctors to "let them go." However, the doctors refused the "do-not-resuscitate" order, offering the infants every form of neonatal intensive care available, and while one of the twins died within days, the boy, Evan, survived, spending six months in the hospital before the family could take him home. Evan was plagued by severe developmental difficulties, including seizures, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, congenital heart defect and blindness, and the author writes with unflinching honesty about her raw fear and conflicted feelings. With time, Forman persevered as Evan's advocate, finding solace in friendships with other mothers of special-needs children and open to experimental therapies that might prove helpful. Numbed by the crass exigencies surrounding the burial of one child (cemetery plots, tax forms), and hardened by what she terms post-traumatic stress syndrome, Forman portrays herself (sometimes shockingly) as deeply flawed and forgivingly human. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.