~Bloom, Kelle Hampton
Being a mother has been the most profound experience of my life, and has transformed my life significantly. There is nothing akin to bringing new life into the world, and the joy of raising children is unparalleled. When I was contemplating motherhood, I would sometimes see parents with children who had Down syndrome, and my eyes would begin to fill with tears as I wondered how it would feel to be in their shoes.
Published in 2010, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by writer and photographer Kelle Hampton is a candid, absorbing, and emotive memoir. This book touched me very deeply. It made me cry quite a bit, for many reasons. I felt the pain of this young mother as she discovers that her second baby, Nella, has Down syndrome. I wept frequently because the author is so honest about her feelings and apprehensions about raising a child with Down syndrome. I cried and I cried and I cried as I read (I seemed to have picked up Cryderman cry-ability while reading this book). I also cried because like Brett, Lainey, Austyn, Brandyn, "Rik and Kris", Heidi, Katie, Dr. Foley, and everyone else featured in this book, I fell in love with Baby Nella, and I wanted to protect her.
Although I do not have a child with Down syndrome, and I do not mean to minimize the uniqueness of this memoir, the experience of giving birth and of being a mother is in many ways universal, and I felt a real kinship with Kelle, who, as a mother, simply wants the best for her children and family. She worries about how the new baby will affect her two-year-old daughter, Lainey, as well as her stepsons, Austyn and Brandyn. Kelle struggles to accept the unexpected, and this memoir covers the first year with Nella, which is an emotional, inspiring journey. Surrounded by loving family and friends, Kelle recovers quickly from her initial shock, and grows stronger and more optimistic about the future. A shift in thinking occurs: Nella is not so much a special needs child, but rather, a very special child. And she's greatly loved by many.
What an incredible book this is! Photos are an essential part of catching the fleeting moments of babyhood and childhood, and the photos in Bloom are exceptionally beautiful. Bloom brought back memories of when my own children were babies and small children. Those were such happy days! (Yes, they were rather demanding at times, but they were also suffused with immeasurable love and joy.) Kelle Hampton manages to capture great heaps of this mother-joy in her memoir. Children enhance the richness of life in a spectacular way. I highly recommend this book, especially to mothers. It's all about love. Bloom is a book brimming with exquisite beauty!
Kelle Hampton is also a blogger! She has a blog about motherhood called Enjoying the Small Things. She's also an advocate for people with Down syndrome.
Special thanks to Trish from TLC for providing me with a copy of Bloom, and for including me in this book tour. For more reviews of this touching memoir, please visit the other stops on TLC's Bloom book tour.