The Journey Home
Today was an extraordinary day. My first book ever got launched!
Together with a team of children’s specialists from the Rotterdam based hospital Sint Franciscus Gasthuis, I wrote about what happens when your baby is born early. Very early, as in: from 25 weeks pregnancy. At that time in the growth cycle your child is able to survive and the pediatricians will do everything they can to make the child stronger and better. For parents this is an incredible frightening process, as they can never be sure their child will make it.
The book is meant to help parents understand what their child is going through, and support them in their exhausting journey at the hospital – where they visit their child, several times a day. At night they keep the phone by the side of their bed, hoping the hospital will not contact them and ask to come over. But they’re always ready to do so, if necessary.
A parent will usually give everything to save their newborn child, but now they have to hand it over to the medical specialist in the intimidating hospital environment. It can be a traumatic experience sometimes. That’s why reading about it and being able to understand how everything works, and knowing how a little body can fight tremendously hard, supports the parents (and their families and friends) to cope with the stress of this early birth.
Besides from it being an interesting subject to work with, the team we had was very inspiring. There were the people from the hospital, Angelique Haringsma and Liduine Schönau, who started this idea of making a book about premature babies. Andreia Costa and Tymen Cieraad – both graphic designers and also the parents of an early born child – hooked up with the hospital staff to make sure the book would not only be informative and recognizable for parents, but also the prettiest book ever.
The illustrations made by Hanneke Siemensma definitely put their mark on the total experience of reading the book: it became a very personal, intimate story, whilst dealing with complex medical information. Hanneke managed to visualize the development from a very small and vulnerable creature to a strong and brave being, in a sweet and positive way. She used animals as a metaphor and it works! We immediately connect to the little rabbit, mole or mouse – and later on, the bear, the moose and the elephant.
The beautiful interviews, written by Laura van Mourik, give an extra diary-like feel to it. The parents she interviewed really opened up and gave us an insight in their personal lives. While reading it, you witness all the changes and emotions they had to deal with. What happens seems so totally unfair and unpredictable sometimes; but then we also read about the happy and touching stories. These parents speak from the heart, no matter what.
The whole team is very thankful to all sponsors who contributed to this book and to our publisher, Michiel Houdijk of Trichis. Because of them I was able to work on my first book ever, that will be distributed online and in specialized bookstores. So proud to be part of this!
I would like to dedicate the work to al the little babies that are born day after day, and taken care of in hospitals all over the world. The earnings of this book go directly to the hospitals’ neonatology ward, for setting up the parents sleepover rooms where they can stay close to their child.