15 April, 2012


Title: Bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected
Author: Kelle Hampton
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - own

From Goodreads: 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.

When photographer Kelle Hampton learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband, Brett, were ecstatic. Her pregnancy went smoothly and the ultrasounds showed a beautiful, healthy, high-kicking baby girl.
But when her new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her two-year-old sister Lainey had at birth. As she watched friends and family celebrate with champagne toasts and endless photographs, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome-a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle's fear and pain were vanquished by joy, as she embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.
Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life-a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes. It is a story about embracing life and really living it, of being fearless and accepting difference, of going beyond constricting definitions of beauty, and of the awesome power of perspective. As Hampton writes, "There is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky."

What I thought: I am a devout reader of Kelle's blog Enjoying the Small Things. Like many others, the first post I ever read was Nella's birth story and it touched me - not just her words, but the photos that accompanied them. Please, go have a look, it is worth it. From that day I have looked forward to every new post of Enjoying the Small Things, the photos, the stories - everything. So when I heard that Kelle was releasing a book about Nella's first year, I knew I had to have it.
Bloom fills in the gaps that the blog leaves. It explores Kelle's deepest feelings about the birth of her daughter and the first year of being a family where one member has an extra chromosome. And it is beautifully written. The rawness of emotions put you right in the book. You feel the love and support in the room as friends gather to celebrate Nella's birth, the fierce protectiveness of Kelle as her daughter endures tests, the uncertainty of how the world outside the protective bubble of family and friends will react. And the photos...I love the photos which only add to the depth of the writing.
I admire Kelle's honesty. She talks about mourning the child she thought she would have - that she thought she should have. She talks about the fear Nella's Down syndrome would have on her other daughter Lainey and what it would mean for the "sister relationship" she promised Lainey. And she talks about her friends. Oh her friends. The support network Kelle Hampton has is the true magic in her life. At all points there was The Net to catch her, hold her, dry her tears and set her back on her feet. Really we should all have a net like Kelle's.
Bloom is a beautiful read - highly recommended.