When I found out WOW! Women on Writing was hosting a blog tour for Sola Olu, the author of The Summer Called Angel, I knew I wanted to be a part. One reason is because this blog is about children’s books AND about books and people who help women and children around the world–after all women hold up HALF THE SKY! But the other reason is because the subject of preemies and NICUs are close to my heart after I had my daughter at 33 weeks, and she spent a month in the NICU.
Sola’s book is excellent. You will be captivated by her story of how she had her daughter, Angel, at 28 weeks due to a severe case of preeclampsia. Angel was a very sick, baby girl, who had to have multiple surgeries and procedures, who spent time in two different NICUs, and who didn’t get to come home until the seventh month of her life. Sola shares the story of she and her husband and their little daughter fighting for her life with honesty and grace. She does not sugarcoat the bad times–the times when she thought she was going to lose her daughter, the times when she didn’t want to go to the NICU any more, the times when she and her husband had a difference of opinion.If you have had a baby in the NICU, you will see yourself in her book. One thing that reminded me so much of my experience is when the doctors kept telling Sola and Chris that Angel was feisty. The doctors in the NICU in St. Louis would say the same exact thing to my husband and me, and they would always say it like they were so proud of how feisty she was–that made me proud, too. (And she is still that feisty today at 2!) The other thing that struck a chord with me is how often Sola called the NICU–I did the same thing all the time in the middle of the night AND how Sola and Chris just couldn’t wait for their little girl to poop. I remember asking nurses all the time. . .did KB poop yet?
In the back of the book, Sola shares some resources for pregnant women or for women who have a baby in the NICU. This is a great resource. She loves to hear your story if you had a baby in the NICU or if you are pregnant and on bed rest or anything really–she loves to help and listen. ANYONE who leaves a comment on this post will be entered to win either a print copy or e-copy of The Summer Called Angel. You can leave a question or a story or a well wish by Sunday, February 3 8:00 pm CST to be entered into the contest.
I was also lucky enough to interview Sola, and I asked her a few questions that may help high school/college writing teachers as well as writers wanting to write their own difficult stories–whatever those may be!
Margo: Welcome, Sola, thank you for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. Your story is so gripping and honest. How did it help you to write about this difficult time in your life?
Sola: It helped to heal. I love to write, and I’ve always been better at expressing my feelings by writing rather than speaking. I started writing at the hospital, even though it didn’t start out as a memoir. I guess it was therapeutic in some way.
Margo: That’s why your memoir is so honest and gripping–you were writing while you were living it! How did you deal with the emotions that had to arise while you were reliving these events (through your writing) with your preemie daughter?
Sola: Everything took time. Initially, I couldn’t talk about the details withoutshedding tears, but gradually the pain lessened, and it was more wonder–how did we live through this? It didn’t help that I cry easily anyway. At the same time though because we stayed at the hospital for so long (two hospitals), I saw cases worse than mine, so I would always have that at the back of my mind to just be grateful it wasn’t worse, and that our outcome was good. Also because I stopped and started the book many times, I had my son as well; and by the time you have two kids, you’re too busy to mope. It was very difficult initially I won’t lie…even with the birth of my son. But with time, there’s healing.
Margo: I agree with the time factor. I have a terrible time writing about things that have just happened. It was even hard for me to write the Facebook updates while our daughter was in the NICU. Do you recommend women writing about hard times in their lives? Why or why not?
Sola: I would–it helps, at least it helped me; but for me, writing has always been my go-to remedy. It’s always been therapeutic. I remember as a teenager I would write to my parents when I had something difficult to discuss.
Margo: What are some good resources you can recommend for teenagers on up to adults for writing about their own lives and difficult events?
Sola: I belong to the National Association of Memoir Writers, and I love the resources they have to offer including webinars; but of course, there are more out there. There are a lot more resources out there on the Internet. My advice to myself for my next book is research, research, research, and more research.. .I think I can pass that along.
Margo: I’ve heard great things about NAMW, too. Thank you, Sola, for your honesty and sharing your story with families!
Don’t forget you could win a copy of this book by leaving a comment or question! Also, you can check out Sola’s book on Amazon.