When journalists Tom and Kelley B. French's daughter, Juniper, was born at 23 weeks gestation and on the cusp of viability, they couldn't hold her. Weighing just one pound and four ounces, she was "raw and red, her eyes were fused shut, and through her translucent skin we could see her flickering heart,"Kelley French, 42, wrote on her website.
"She couldn’t see, couldn’t cry, couldn’t be fed or held. If we stroked her, they said, her skin could slide off. She knew nothing but needle sticks and isolation and darkness."
But the one thing Juniper could do was hear. Tom French, 58, told TODAY Parents that for much of the time that she was in the NICU, they knew they could lose Juniper at any moment, and they didn't want to waste a single day with her. So while they couldn't hold and cuddle her with the warmth of their hands and arms, they used what they know best to nurture her instead: stories. "Stories are my religion," said Tom, a Pulitzer Prize winner. "They connect us, they hold us together, they keep us from going over the edge."