This book is a memoir, a heart tugging story of the birth of a much wanted second child. Kelle Hampton holds nothing back as she shares about the birth of her daughter Nella:
they put her in my arms.
…and I knew.
I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down syndrome and nobody else knew. I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone who would tell me she didn’t have it. I held her and looked at her like she wasn’t by baby and tried to take it in. And all I can remember of these moments is her face. I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over…she locked eyes with mine and stared…bore holes into my soul.
Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected but oh please love me.
That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.
(from page 18 of e galley)
These words, and all the words that Hampton has written hit my very soul and I was drawn into this book and couldn’t put it down.
Kelle Hampton has a popular blog Enjoying the Small Things that she started with the birth of her first daughter, Lainey. Her blog was a place for her to share her creative side with writing and photography, a place for family and friends and like many of us, a place to make new friends. After the birth of Nella she decided to post her birth story, and she did it in such an open and honest way, that the outpouring of love and support via comments was overwhelming, over 700 comments in just one night.
Kelle was honest when sharing about her shock and sadness when she realized her daughter was different, she also shares how the love of her family and friends and strangers for that matter helped to learn what a gift Nella was to her and her family.
I saw the book trailer for Bloom late last week on Shelf Awareness, and I was absolutely drawn to this book. I knew I’d love it, I knew it would make me cry, and I knew I would learn something. All my predictions came true.
Knowing the premise of a memoir gives a reader some warning, you know what’s going to happen, but not really how. I was silently thankful for having my own three healthy perfect children, and knowing how I too had fretted over every small detail at their births. When I had Nick at age 38 we did have extensive prenatal testing, more for other reasons as another birth defect has run in our families, but I thought about Down Syndrome and what I would feel if my child was born with that extra chromosome.
What I felt most when reading this book was not just how Kelle managed to accept that Nella was beautiful and perfect, but how much she acknowledged each step that led her to that moment. Each of us has felt disappointment, that realization that what we had hoped for just isn’t going to be. So maybe things are different, that can be okay, it can lead us somewhere else. This is something I know, but felt reaffirmed when reading BLOOM.
I loved how Kelle’s friends rallied around her, just as they always had. As women how would we manage without our friends, our support systems, our “net” as Kelle calls them to catch us before we fall? These relationships we have with other women, they keep us strong, they keep us grounded. My friends are there for me when I laugh or cry, or a combination of both. They are there when I want to cheer or scream…and I loved remembering this as I read BLOOM.
I need to add that the photography shared in this book is remarkable. Kelle is a self taught photographer, and clearly she has a gift in seeing the small details in life and in those she loves. Full color photography compliment the feeling of love and acceptance coursing throughout this book.
I can’t say enough how much I loved Kelle Hampton’s book. I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars and I’m going to do my best as a book lover and bookseller to be a cheerleader for this memoir. BLOOM goes on sale next Tuesday April 3, and you can pre-order it now from your favorite bookstore.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with an e galley of this book.