Local Family Thanks Bruce Springsteen for Helping Save Their Daughter’s Life

When Tom and Kelley French’s daughter, Juniper, was born at 23 weeks gestation, she weighed just 1 pound and 4 ounces. She couldn’t see or cry. Her skin was so fragile, her parents couldn’t hold her.

“It’s so terrifying that it’s almost hard to connect or engage,” Kelley says. “We had to figure out how to be her parents. And not how to be her parents someday, but right then. We were making choices about who we were in that moment as a family.”

One of the choices they made was to set a tiny iPod inside the incubator with Juniper to drown out the sounds of the machines keeping her alive. On that iPod were the songs that resonated most with her parents — the music of Bruce Springsteen.

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Juniper: A harrowing, humorous story of a premature birth

“A story is a promise … a promise that the end is worth waiting for.” That is Thomas’ much-uttered mantra, and Juniper proves it to be true. Their story is a remarkable account, a truly moving and indomitable work, and in giving all for their daughter, they reveal the best in themselves. At the close of the book, Juniper asks her parents to tell her a story. “Watch,” she says, “you might be mad, but this might be amazing.” And Juniper French is absolutely right.

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JK Rowling found out her books helped save this baby's life. Her response was magic.

On the worst night, when our 1-pound daughter was fading in the darkness of her incubator, my husband opened a book and began to read aloud.

"Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived."

He needed to say those words. I thought it was strange that he’d chosen the first book in a seven-volume series, a series that totals more than 4,000 pages, for a little girl who might not survive the night.

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What it is like to give birth to a 1lb premature baby at 23 weeks

Kelley and her husband Tom French had been trying for a child for four years before she fell pregnant with a donor egg. Two days after the 20-week ultrasound which confirmed their baby was healthy, Kelley started bleeding. She was crushed.

“I thought I’d lost the baby. I felt like a colossal failure,” French told The Independent. 

She hadn't lost the baby. But doctors told her she needed to keep it alive for four weeks before it could be delivered. At 23 weeks and six days into the pregnancy, Juniper was born. 

The experience that followed, where the two parents were glued to her incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit for six and a half months, has been retold by French in her book Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon

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5-Star Review of "Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born too Soon"

Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks' gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her chest you could see her flickering heart. Premature babies like Juniper, born at the edge of viability, trigger the question: Which is the greater act of love--to save her, or to let her go?

Kelley and Thomas French chose to fight for Juniper's life, and this is their incredible tale. In one exquisite memoir, the authors explore the border between what is possible and what is right. They marvel at the science that conceived and sustained their daughter and the love that made the difference. They probe the bond between a mother and a baby, between a husband and a wife. They trace the journey of their family from its fragile beginning to the miraculous survival of their now thriving daughter.

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Things I wish I’d known about having a one-pound baby

My daughter was born as twiggy and translucent as a baby bird, her eyes fused shut, mouth agape. Through her chest we could see her flickering heart.

Juniper arrived at 23 weeks and 6 days gestation: the threshold between viability and futility, between what is possible and what is right. For me, after five years of infertility, she came at the trembling membrane between motherhood and despair.

She weighed 1 pound 4 ounces. That’s the size of a 6-week-old kitten or an adult Eastern gray squirrel. It’s the amount of breast milk an eight-pound newborn drinks in a day. It’s $1.26 in pennies.

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Florida-favorite authors Michael Connelly and Kelley and Thomas French draw crowds at Festival of Reading

ST. PETERSBURG — In a packed auditorium at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, a crowd of hundreds grew antsy as it waited to hear from three of the marquee authors at Saturday's Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.Their books are about completely different subjects, but the festival was buzzing to see them on stage.

One book, Juniper, tells the story of a child born at just 23 weeks and was written by Kelley Benham French and her husband, Thomas. They are former writers for the Tampa Bay Times, and the journalists' nonfiction book about their daughter has drawn rave reviews.

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Nonfiction Review: JUNIPER: THE GIRL WHO WAS BORN TOO SOON by Kelley French & Tom French

JUNIPER: THE GIRL WHO WAS BORN TOO SOON is a heart-wrenching story of hope. Juniper was born at 23 weeks 6 days – on the edge of viability. No one knew if she would live or die. Her parents didn’t give up on her and she spent the next few months in an incubator, health fluctuating.

It was a raw and it was emotional. I went through half a box of tissues on this book alone. It’s not a light fluffy read – it’s a hard one. Hard to tell what will happen next and if she’ll survive the next relapse. That being said – I’m happy I read it. I loved seeing Juniper beat the odds and climb her way out of this hole.

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Festival of Reading: 'Juniper' a riveting true story of a micro-preemie's fight for life

I probably would have read Juniper in one sitting, but I had to stop because I was crying too hard.

The book tells the story of a girl named Juniper who was born at 23 weeks six days of gestation — "too soon," as the subtitle puts it. That's so soon that doctors can't even agree whether intervention to save a baby's life is the right call. Juniper weighed 1 pound 4 ounces — a micro-­preemie who couldn't see or breathe without the help of a machine.

The story of the fight for Juniper's life is told by her parents, journalists Kelley and Thomas French. They alternate as narrators, taking turns moving the story forward.

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Frenches discuss ethics of premature births

A picture of a baby’s hand clutching an adult’s pinky finger appeared on the screen in the Hutton Honors College Great Room. The hand barely fit around the pinky finger. The baby was about the size of a large mango and weighed just over a pound.

Juniper French was born after only 23 weeks and six days gestation, about 113 days too early. Doctors call this the “gray area.” Babies born at 21 weeks rarely survive, and doctors have a moral obligation to keep premature babies alive at 25 weeks. At less than 24 weeks, the parents often have to decide how they want to continue.

 

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IU Media School professors experience terror, true collaboration in writing their daughter’s birth story

Stories don’t always need to be written. But Juniper French’s birth was no ordinary story.

She was born at 23 weeks and six days gestation, weighing 1 pound and 4 ounces. During Juniper’s first 196 days, she was in a hospital fighting for her life.

For her parents, Thomas and Kelley French, journalists and professors in The Media School at IU, Juniper’s story had to be told. It became “Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon,” published this fall by Little, Brown.

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Born in the grey zone: Journalist parents explore medical frontier of micro-preemies

Juniper French weighed one pound four ounces — a little over half a kilogram —when she was born five years ago in a Florida hospital.

"Exactly the weight of a Gatorade bottle," Kelley French tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. Her diaper was the size of a pack of gum, says French.

Juniper was born at 23 weeks and six days gestation, in what doctors call the grey zone — at the edge of viable life outside the womb, forcing her parents Kelley French and Thomas French to make a series of impossible decisions

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‘Through the Gates,’ ep. 34: Tom & Kelley French on “Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon”

This week, Through the Gates host Jim Shanahan speaks with Thomas and Kelley French, both acclaimed journalists and Professors of Practice at the Media School. Their recently published memoir, “Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon,” has fast become an important work for parents navigating similar circumstances and for medical professionals seeking to understand the experience of parents of premature children.

Despite the emotional turmoil the Frenches endured, their message is not a dark one. Thomas describes the days following Juniper’s birth as “the most transcendent few months of our lives, watching her edge into consciousness.” The book is available online and at major literary retailers nationwide.

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"He already knows me. He sang to me all those songs."

Read "Dear Bruce: The Thing We Wanted to Say" and meet five-year-old Juniper "Junebug" French, daughter of journalists Kelley and Tom French. The couple flew with their kindergartner — born a micro preemie — from Indiana to Boston earlier this week to meet Bruce Springsteen, "in a sea of people who, I'm certain, were bursting with things they couldn't say. All our worst moments, and our best, are tied up in your lyrics. Our story is tangled in yours." In the French family, that's particularly true.

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Tom and Kelley French finally thank Bruce Springsteen for saving their daughter Juniper's life

Juniper French is 5 years old, "healthy and ferocious and lighting up kindergarten," her parents say.

She's come farther than most in her short life, which began when she was born premature at only 23 weeks gestation —  what scientists believe is the absolute limit of human viability outside the womb. 

Former Tampa Bay Times writer Kelley Benham French chronicled her daughter's harrowing experience in a series of stories for the Times. She and her husband, Tom French, also a former Times writer, expand on the experience in their new book, Juniper.

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This fan's thank you note to Bruce Springsteen is going to make you cry

Every Bruce Springsteen super-fan is quick with a tale of their deep-seeded connection to The Boss. 

But for Kelley French, her husband Tom and especially their young daughter Juniper, there is an extraordinary story, which Kelley shared on her website Monday. 

In a blog post titled "Dear Bruce: The Thing We Wanted To Say," French, of Bloomington, Indiana wrote: "We've been trying for five years to find a way to thank you. We believe your music helped save our baby daughter's life."

Read the whole story here.

Source: http://www.nj.com/entertainment/music/inde...