The heart of my story centers on my journey to motherhood, the one in which I found myself joyfully pregnant after years of infertility only to then give birth unexpectedly at just 25 weeks.
We named her Scarlette and she weighed one pound, eight point six ounces.
And even though she weighed less than six sticks of butter she was the heaviest thing on my heart.
She was thirty days old before I was allowed to hold her and it was most decidedly not what I expected when I was expecting. I didn’t expect the 156 day NICU stay or the long term quarantine at home or that my motherhood would involve learning to force down a feeding tube and copious amounts of therapy.
Everyone wants to know about that part. I wrote a book about the experience and in every single interview so far someone has asked me “What was the hardest part of your NICU stay?”
They want me to narrow it down into an instance, one that translates well for airwaves and I could choose from so many. I could tell them about the time that she coded and I watched in horror as they tried to resuscitate her. Or the time that another one of her veins blew and the nurse hurriedly grabbed my hand to stem the flow of blood, leaving me standing there holding a tourniquet on my daughter’s leg as she ran to call out the door for help. Or the time I watched them tie my baby’s tiny broken arm to a tongue depressor in a miniature, makeshift cast.
I take a deep breath. “It wasn’t any one moment,” I tell them. “It was the collective experience of one hard thing after another that culminated in the trauma. It was the sum total of measuring your only child’s heartbeats minute by minute and the uncertainty of never knowing what the next one held. It was the immersion in a world where motherhood intersected with medicine and the haunting feeling of being completely incapable of protecting your child from pain.”
Maybe that was a bit intense for morning radio. I don’t think that’s exactly what they were expecting.
But then again, neither was I.
There were moments of joy too, mingled in with all of the heartache and I did not expect the places where I found hope. Like how even though her eyes remained shut for the first ten days after her birth she still craned her neck at the sound of my voice, searching for me. Or how my husband’s hands were copied on her exactly, a perfect replica each the size of a nickel. Or the way she fit perfectly against my chest, matching the rise and fall to mine and giving me a reason to breathe.
Or the way I loved her.
And that when I felt the most adrift in my emotions, it was love that anchored me.
I didn’t expect that everything I knew, myself, my marriage, my faith, would suddenly feel as fragile as my newborn daughter. I felt completely alone.
And that is why I wrote my first book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected
For other parents to feel a little less alone.
It is story about finding hope in the unexpected places, in the circumstances that seem overwhelming, in the moments you question everything you ever knew. It is the binding up of our story, from then to now. It is a filled with the truth of our experience, the way prematurity broke us, literally. My body, my baby, our marriage, our bank account, they were all broken. And it is the story of uncovering a hope that holds always, secure in the good times and in the devastatingly bad times.
(It’s also a book about laughter so please enjoy the stories about my baby name dilemma while watching Full House, that one time I awkwardly met Hugh Grant and also the recounting of the most embarrassing moment of my entire life. I can’t believe I’m even telling you about it except that maybe putting it in this book is sort of redeeming.)
Anchored is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major retailers and I’m so honored to giveaway 3 copies here today! Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway below to be entered to win a signed copy of the book + a beautiful 8×10 print from Gracelaced Art.
Read the first chapter of Anchored for free here.
Both poignant and humorous, Anchored recounts Kayla’s gripping story of learning to navigate her newfound motherhood in the most unexpected of ways, from holidays in the hospital and middle-of-the-night phone calls to the joy of coming home. With vulnerability and plenty of wit, Kayla lays bare her struggle to redefine her faith, her marriage, and herself within the context of a tragedy she never saw coming.
What People Are Saying
- As a mother of a critically ill NICU baby, this is the book I was searching for during his hospital stay. Reading Anchored took me back to our own days sitting next to the isolette, and healed places in my heart I didn’t know were still raw. It’s a whole-hearted, honest, and encouraging story of hope and security, one that covers you like a warm, comforting quilt.
- As someone who struggled with my own NICU experience, when I read her book Kayla managed to put into words my feelings, my fears, and my hopes. From not knowing if she was allowed to touch her own baby, not wanting to be “that mom”, and struggling to find her way as a mother, this was my story. I think anyone who has been through this NICU experience, or any life changing event for that matter, should read this book.
- A mastery of story telling that will lead you from hysterical stitches to tears and back again. There is a depth and vulnerability in this book that is intimate, personal, and carefully woven. She never challenges the reader to change her own mind about something she may believe or have experienced. However, the way in which she presents the things that changed, shaped, or challenged her is so real, and normal, that you can unthreateningly examine the conclusions and experiences your own life has made in response to pain and sorrow.
- This is an extremely well written and compelling account of a preemie birth and the months afterward. Kayla has a sense of humor that comes across loud and clear. I found the book a delight to read, even though it deals with a difficult subject, made pleasantly readable because of Kayla’s writing ability and sense of humor.