Motherhood & Words

One of the things I thought a lot about as I was writing and rewriting Ready for Air was audience. My hope, of course, was that the book would speak to a large audience–one that reached beyond preemie parents, beyond any parent. But honestly it was the preemie parents I worried about as I was writing. Because I know how bad it can get. I know how lucky we were that Stella made it to 32 weeks, that we were able to take our baby home with us, that she’s healthy, thriving. Because of course that’s not how it happens for everyone. And I worried that my struggles, my fear, would seem petty measured against much greater losses, unbearable losses. So I tried to acknowledge that on the page, the ways that fear and gratitude lived side by side for me during that time. They way gratitude is now woven into the fabric of my life.

The blog tour stop today is at Jessica Watson’s wonderful blog, Four Plus an Angel. Before I even visited her blog, I knew her story was different, I knew there would be grief. And I was right. Jessica and her husband had three preemies, triplets, born just shy of 29 weeks. Two girls and a boy. But Hadley, one of their girls, only lived for a couple of days.

Jessica writes about grief, about happiness, about it all. She writes about the importance of writing, of sharing her stories, our stories. (One of my favorite posts is about how to support someone who is grieving. Everyone should read this, study it.) So I’m so honored that Jessica took time to read Ready for Air, and that it resonated with her, even though our stories are different.

She writes:

If I could have spent a fraction of my days in the NICU reading her story of hope and love and honesty I would have felt that friend lifting right through the pages.

I needed “Ready for Air”. I needed another story of a mother who had made it through to tell me I could do the same. As I read the beautifully strung words through her journey with her own daughter Stella, not only did I wish it had been sitting in my lap on those days full of machines and tests and loud silence, but I thanked Kate in my head ten million times over. She wrote what every NICU mother needs. In “Ready for Air” she is that friend you didn’t know you had, the one who understands exactly where you are without you having to say a word, the one who pulls you through a space you are not quite certain you can survive.

Those words made me cry this morning. Thank you, Jessica, for being part of the blog tour and for your words, for showing up again and again to put them down on the page and send them out into the world. Please check out Jessica’s blog.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sue on October 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

    You hit on an important issue, how those of us feel whose babies survived when we know so many do not. It is humbling yet maybe because we’ve looked into that abyss as well it gives us some permission to tell our stories.

    • Kate on October 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Yes, Sue! And of course we all have permission to tell our stories. We must!