Bloom

Thoughts on Bloom, by Kelle Hampton.

I immediately knew I wanted to read this book. It was pre-ordered in my amazon shopping cart the day that pre-orders began. I started reading Kelle's blog, Enjoying The Small Things in 2009 following along her pregnancy journey and soaking up adorable pictures of her first daughter Lainey. I have loved their family story, and more than anything wanted to support the release of the book. When the book arrived, it sat on my kitchen table for weeks, being shuffled with piles of paper, while I lacked both the time and motivation to sit down and read. In late June, I decided on a whim to read this book with a friend. We gave ourselves the month of July, never imagining how two busy working moms would finished this book in under two weeks! Our summaries to one another were just a few (long) emails. And you know what, it was fun.

I have never been part of a "book club." And after a few failed attempts to join one, I have resolved that you, the blogging community, may be my best shot. So here is goes, my first ever online book club post. Bloom has been out for a few months now, and I know some of you have read it. Hopefully you will join me in the comments to continue the conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts as well, after all, you are officially part of my book club.



Prologue. No matter how may times I read the story of Nella’s birth, I always cry and I always think Kelle is a crazy wonder woman! Favors for her hospital guests? And the sheer number of people there before delivery, during contractions, for the delivery? Crazy! No ma’am, not me. I thought when I first read her story, and having Behr totally reinforced the fact that no-way, no-how will my hospital room ever be as hopping as hers. Also, I don’t know many people with friends like that.

Dr. Foley, her pediatrician sounds amazing. I am in love with that woman.

Chapter 1. Whoa, pictures of Kelle Hampton with blond hair (cue wedding pictures). The scare, while her husband was away, the big clot. Scary. I also never knew Kelle had stepsons.

Chapter 2. I appreciate that she gave such a personal example of how and why she learned to deal with change throughout her life. At first the story in this chapter seems to be there for shock value, but the more I read the book, the more it fits. The letter her Dad wrote, recounting the first days was incredible. “And I wonder if gratitude is the uniformed doorman of the heart…”

Chapter 3. Again, reminded of her incredible friends, or “the net” as they call themselves. “I looked in the mirror. It was horrifying.” So true. Your first full view of yourself post-labor is an out of body experiences. Leg warmers. Didn’t realize people still had these/sold these. But so smart post-labor. I love Marsha. Why does her brother call her Kas? She explained why she calls him Bubby. I am blown away that she wanted her husband home with Lainey. I think I would be just the opposite – send my friends to care for Behr, give me my husband.

Chapter 4. Husband brought Beer. 10 points. A great song. Sara Groves is spot on. Sister Carin’s speech…”You know, through pain, you learn a lot about yourself – things you thought you never knew you wanted to learn.” Choose your own adventure book reference, classic.

Chapter 5. Tanning Booth – perfection. Bubby is one smart brother. Theresa’s letter made me cry. I keep going back to read it. Wondering if I could ever give so much of myself, wondering how she can be so generous and selfless. (pg 99) Julie’s letter was also so well written. Nella’s going home outfit was the cutest thing ever. The woman in scrubs who went in to visit and meet Nella, what an incredible act of kindness.

Chapter 6. Skinny dipping story, outrageously hilarious. It amazes me how much this book has me rolling in fits of laughter. Pumping, like “a Hoover vac on crack.” I think my breastfeeding ended in a very similar way. Viewing blogging as walking deeper into Gratitude. Yes.

Chapter 7. The photo of Nella and Lainey make my ovaries hurt. Big sister and little sister, sharing an early embrace. Brett looking for the space heater story made me bawl my eyes out. Writing Nella’s story, I can’t imagine what that must have been like. And then to finish, his publish, and release it to the masses – incredible.

Chapter 8. This chapter unlocked the true turning point for Kelle when she wrote: “But it was in this beautiful mess of my former self that true potential dwelled – potential to be molded and shaped by a grand defining moment.” {page 148}

Chapter 9. It is people like the man in the airport that takes their family picture that gives me hope in humanity. Kelle’s Dad’s take on “God Spinners” got me rolling in laughter and then thinking very deeply. I appreciated this insight into the way things can be perceived. The stories she {finally!} told about Brett’s boys’ reactions to the news of Nella were so beautifully gracious.

Chapter 10. I continued to be surprised by how Kelle and Brett dealt with the reality of Down Syndrome, not talking to each other much, ignoring literature, avoiding information. Mark and I would have reacted the exact opposite. I read nine different books when I was pregnant, and three breastfeeding books, and that was all for a routine, no-risk pregnancy. I was relieved once she finally sank down and researched, and then my heart broke when it impacted her negatively.

My own raw wounds opened up as I read, “Would Lainey be welcoming her first grandchild and saying good-bye to her sister at the same time?” {page 192} And my heart broke for my own mother who buried her dad the weekend I told her I was expecting, and then buried both her mom and her sister before Behr was six months old. I still struggle with how I allowed my conflicting emotions of sorrow and joy to each mute the extremes of the other. I cannot imagine what it was like for my mom. And then the reality that the scenario Kelle described can happen with or without Down Syndrome made me want to hug my sisters hard.

Chapter 11. Brett’s questions about what Nella will be able to do are precious. Again, I am amazed that they want to move forward without digging into research, but I am impressed by their ability to grab life, and live it to their fullest.

Chapter 12. I love the story of David, her seemingly anonymous spontaneous therapist, and how it came full circle. And then there is the chapter’s namesake story, “your speech touched my heart.” 

Chapter 13. Kelle’s trip to Montana to visit Nici reminded me of my own blogger weekend in Boston last fall. Love those girls. Nella’s Rockstars were outrageous and awesome.

Chapter 14. I remember crying over the ONEder fund the first time, tears streamed re-reading about it here, and then again as I re-read the paragraph aloud for Mark. The email to her girlfriends, “the net,” was the first time addressing that they didn’t just join hands over beer and sing kumbaya.

The Velveteen Rabbit story was an excellent way to wrap up the book.


Overall, I thought the book was inspiring and encouraging, offer the hope of change and growth. I would love to hear your thoughts, have you read it? What do you think of my observations? Have you already blogged about this book - share the link! 

13 comments:

  1. I pre-ordered this book too and read it as soon as I got it in 2 days! I LOVE Kelle's blog, have been following since Nella's birth. I think she is an inspiration and she makes me strive to be a better mama in my daily routine, to try and remember to let things go and just dance in the rain with my kids!
    I loved your recap of each chapter. I was SO jealous of "the net", what an incredible support system. Although, I agree with you that I wouldn't have wanted all those people in the hospital room with me but then again if I had that many people I bet it would be fun! The words from her dad and her sister after Nella's birth had me crying, so very sweet!
    Lainey and Nella are Beautiful and the pictures in the book and the pictures on her blog of them are always stunning!
    A lot of your favorite parts that you mentioned were also my favorite parts....just a sweet, raw, honest book and I loved it!

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    1. There were so many favorite parts in this book. I laughed and cried out loud the entire time.

      At first I was jealous of the net too, and then I realized that I have a net, they just don't all live in the same city, and they aren't necessarily the same people in eachother's net. ie. my best friend in DC knows my best friend in Boston, but they wouldn't be there to help eachother. My sisters are part of my net, but they don't hang out with my friends. I think she is a very lucky lady, and has clearly spent a good deal of time investing in the people around her. Which makes me glad they seem to reciprocate the love.

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  2. One of the biggest criticisms of Bloom is that Kelle seems to rely on her friends, not her husband. I kept thinking this as I read as well, but I don't think I blame her. Here are my thoughts on this: Kelle is a blogger. This book is very much like her blog, and it many ways, talking about friends on your blog is not as personal, or sacred, as talking about your marriage. My own husband is not on my blog much because it sometimes feels too close. I also think they probably had more financial/work stress going on than she addresses from the few times she references Brett's work - reason to not run worries to your husband. What are your thoughts? Did you get the impression Kelle's "Net" was tighter than her marriage?

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    1. I guess I didn't get the impression that she relied more on her friends than her husband. I think we as women, well at least me, rely on our girlfriends for diff things than we rely on our husbands for. I think since she had all her girlfriends there it was good that she was able to have Brett home with Lainey, I would have wanted the same thing so things at home were a little more consistent for my other child with having dad home. I think she needed her friends and her husband but just in diff ways.

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  3. So, no shame in my game, I cried during her birth story on the train. Between her raw and brutal honesty and my own fears that something will happen to me or my baby one day when that time comes for me, I just got really overwhelmed. Like happymommy above, I was and am insanely jealous of The Net. I thought about my friends and who would be there if I were in a similar situation, and it kind if pained me to realize I don't think I'd have that kind of outpouring. But then again, maybe I'm wrong and I just don't know about My Net because I haven't needed it in that way yet. Who knows. This book was so powerful. And can you believe I haven't even seen her blog until today?! So now I'll spend the rest of my day going through her archives :)

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    1. I felt like I was all puffy-eyed just from reading about her being puffy-eyed. Lots of tears for sure. Run over to her blog...its a gem of beautiful family photos.

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  4. I love that you turned this into a "book club" discussion, and I loved exhanging the long-winded emails with you!

    I had never read Kelle's blog before, and actually had never heard of her until this book, so everything in it was new to me. I cried and laughed and fell in love with her family. You know most of my (long-winded) thoughts, but to add to the discussion, I am going to share a quote the really stood out to me, so much that I chased down a pen and underlined it:

    In Chapter 9, when Kelle she is talking about picking her husband up at the airport after his 2.5 weeks away, and Lainey runs to him, clearly thrilled.

    Kelle says "I felt guilt again for just a moment--thinking she must have needed something from him that I couldn't give her--but then my joy and relief quickly swallowed the grief."

    Her straightforward honesty is so real, and she accurately describes a feeling I get so often, when my daughter wants her daddy when she falls down over me, first I feel like there is a void I can't fill and feel bad, but then I am so happy that he can offer her whatever she needs. It's so conflicting, wanting to be EVERYTHING for our children, but accepting the fact that the best partnerships allow both people to provide different kinds of love.

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    1. I have these emotions constantly. I am not naturally a nurturer, so I understand why Behr turns to Mark when he is upset. I am also glad that Behr loves his daycare teachers. But I would be lying if I didn't say that a pieces of my heart breaks every time he lunges from my arms to see his favorite teacher, with whom he has his own special coded language I don't understand. It kinda hurts even to write about.

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    2. Ugh, it's like you want them to be well-rounded and have lots of good people influence their lives, but at the same time, you want to be ALL they need if it ever came to it. I also wonder, do dad's feel this way too, or is it more of a mom thing?

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  5. I started reading her blog when someone on fb posted her birth story about Nella. I was immediately hooked and spent the rest of the evening going back through her archives and reading about her life. The part about Nella looking up at her when she was first born and asking her to love her? I just about died. When I heard she was writing a book I immediately ordered it on Amazon even though it was not due out for another 6 months. The day it arrived I sat and read the first half as soon as I got home from work. I finished the second half the next day. There's something about her writing that is so beautiful. I often found myself nodding about some of the emotions she was feeling and thinking I have felt the same things and Kelle wrote it so well. There were many sentences, paragraphs that I read and reread throughout the book.

    I love how honest she writes about her feelings and I too was jealous about her "net," living so close to her. Before one of my best friends had her baby at the end of June, I often thought it would be similar to how Kelle described having love ones around during birth, celebrating, etc. Turns out my friend only wanted her husband in the room and in the end she ended up having a C-section and her husband could be the only one in the room. A few days later as our net gathered with a 2 day old baby, it ended up being more like the end of the movie, Now and Then. I asked my friend what advice she would give others who were about to have her first child. She said that the movies make childbirth seem too good to be true - you fall in love with your baby at first glance and everything is perfect. She said for those who don't have that experience feel bad and guilty because it's not as hollywood perceives birth to be. She said that's how it was for her because right after her C-section she got to see the baby for 1 second before they wheeled her to recovery and wanted her to be watched carefully since she had had complications throughout the pregnancy. She said it was over an hour before she got to see and hold her baby and then she had to get to know this new person. She felt guilty that she didn't immediately fall in love with her the second she was born. She loves her now of course, but it made me think that maybe giving birth isn't all the glam and adrenaline that Kelle writes it to be like. I don't yet have kids, but I hope that when I do I have my net there and am able to pull together personalized champagne glasses and guest gift boxes. It also sounds like Kelle had a dream delivery room and doctors. And the pictures throughout the book are incredible. Not only the ones by Kelle, but the ones her friend's took after the birth. The one of everyone holding out their champagne glasses with Kelle in the background really captures the experience she wrote about.

    Anyway, overall I loved the book. I do want to go back and reread it and I find myself wanting to pass it onto my friends. I think it was helpful that I had caught up on her blog beforehand so that I was familiar with the characters. I really enjoyed how she found the humor in a tough situation and was able to laugh. Specifically the scene where she goes in the hospital bathroom and her and her friend laugh about her eyes making her look like she had DS because she had been crying so much. Laughter really is the best medicine.

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  6. (continued) I look forward to seeing where her blog goes and the relationship that continues to build between Lainey and Nella. I do also wondering how it will be when/if she brings a new baby into the mix since she has talked about having a miscarriage on her blog since Nella was born. I also felt she had a good mix of new material vs. parts of the blog in her book. There were a few times when I realized that I had already read that story. But her dad? Total shock. Even though she has mentioned her dad on the blog, it never occurred to me about his lifestyle. I think Kelle is so brave so share so much of her life with others. I also love how she is advocating and being involved in DS. She really has jumped in 110%. I hope she writes another book someday since her writing is so heartfelt. It would be interesting to read about how going public with her life, blog, experience has changed her, her family, etc. She touches on that a little bit in the book about when her blog really took off. Also, the dedication of her book to Lainey who taught her how to love? So so sweet.

    PS. I love this online book club idea!! So fun! What book(s) are you reading next?

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    1. Yes, to so, so, so many of your thoughts. We are definitely tracking. There is so much worldly pressure for what your "birth" is "supposed" to be like.

      I didn't catch that Kelle had a miscarriage. I tend to get lost gazing at the pretty pictures when I visit her blog.

      And as for the next book, I am not sure yet, but I will definitely keep you posted.

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