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The story begins just days before the birth of Sola’s first child and follows the incredible journey she and her husband took with their tiny daughter. This is a touching story that tells the triumphs and challenges of one family and will serve to inspire others.
Sola Olu was expecting: expecting to receive a graduate degree from DePaul University and expecting her first child. Instead she went for a routine doctor's visit and found herself delivering her daughter Angel at a perilously premature time. Sola and her husband Chris were thrust into an unimaginable odyssey spanning seven months, several surgeries, and a painful separation with their newborn. THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL provides intimate, hands-on details of the medical complexity as well as the emotional toll taken on parents who must witness their tiny baby struggle for life. THE SUMMER CALLED ANGEL also touches on Sola's second premature birth. This memoir serves as a powerful tribute to maternal love in the face of unexpected challenges. It is certain to offer strength to readers experiencing prematurity and offer a celebration of devotion that will resonate with parents everywhere.
When faced with family or friends that have a premature baby, we are sometimes at a loss for words. Sola joins us today to explain what friends and family should (and shouldn’t) say to parents of a premature baby.
Dealing with a premature birth could be a difficult time depending on different circumstances - the health of the mother, the circumstances of the birth, and how early the baby is. Most parents are able to prepare their minds if they have had advance warning (point in case multiple births). But generally it is overwhelming as mothers especially feel guilty at not being able to bring their babies into the world in a safe and healthy manner. If the baby is fine and there are no health issues, the situation is a little less stressful than if there are complications leading to a lengthy stay.
What to say or do: * Let them know they're in your thoughts and prayers. Most parents will appreciate that alone. * Ask is there's anything you can do - errands to run, books to pick up from the library. * Offer to help them with grocery or cooking and if you can please go ahead and just pick up some and leave by the door. * If there are complications, encourage them to seek second opinions if they haven't. * Please call, and leave voice mails if they don't pick up. That way they know you're thinking about them. * If you're confused about what to say, it's OK admit upfront that you don't know what to say, but would like to just check up on them. It can sometimes be a difficult situation for friends and families too especially if the birth was unexpected as it is with most preemie births. * Send encouraging cards especially if they're not answering the phone. A simple "I'm thinking of you" will suffice. * Do offer stories of hope about preemie babies who've made it - or do some internet research and buy them books about that. * Give suggestions of using social media to keep people updated, and if able, help to set up a simple blog that the family can maintain. * Ask if it's OK to send gifts for the baby. * Ask if it's OK to visit. If not say that you understand and ask if there are other things you could do.
Things not to say: * Don't say "You'll have other babies" (particularly if the baby is gravely ill). That's not what they're thinking right then, they're thinking about their preemie baby now. * Don't talk about preemies who did not make it or have multiple medical issues (in most cases, preemies do very well, and if not, let the medical experts be the ones to break the news to them). * Don't tell them to "get over it" or "move on" if they're having a difficult time. (When they "move on" will depend on how the baby is doing.) * Don't tell them it's part of life as people have premature babies everyday. (Again, this depends on how the baby is doing.)
Generally, be sensitive and take your cues from the parents. If they're fine, the baby is fine and all is well, they may need less support than parents whose babies are sick.
Sola, thanks for joining us and sharing these helpful tips. It is difficult to know the right things to say when faced with a condition such as a premature baby if one has never experienced it before. Sometimes in our ‘well-meaning’ ways we do tend to say the worst thing possible.
Sola was born and raised in Nigeria. As a child, she loved making up stories and as soon as she could write she started putting them down on paper. She holds degrees in English and Information Systems.
Sola works in the retail industry and volunteers as a counselor to mothers of premature babies. Her writings include essays, poetry and children's stories. She loves to cook, travel and attend the theater. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.
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