A first-person account of a woman who became a cause célèbre following the grievous circumstances of her baby's birth.
Novelist Fei (A Thread of Sky, 2010) grippingly details her dread, anxiety, and wonder with her second-trimester delivery, during which "the walls of [her] body gave way,” and she palpably describes her baby's fragile condition—one doctor described the baby's skin as “gelatinous.” Readers will be haunted by Fei's initial guilt and ambivalence as she recounts the months of "separation and agony and limbo" when her infant, who was less than 2 pounds at birth, received extraordinary, intensive care. The author calls her daughter’s early arrival as "so wholly a catastrophe,” as her conditions included a brain hemorrhage, respiratory distress syndrome, anemia, and jaundice. Later, when the family’s hospital bills began to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, Fei's second struggle commenced. Her husband and a colleague were cruelly castigated by their company's CEO, Tim Armstrong of AOL (who is worth more than $400 million), for necessitating the cuts in the company's retirement benefits due to the births of their "distressed babies…at a cost of one million dollars each." The author sensibly questions—and reasonably doubts—Armstrong’s rationale that these unforeseen medical emergencies of his two employees were truly a hindrance to the company's bottom line. His contempt for two terribly fragile newborns and their families caused a national debate about corporate responsibility, compassion, and decency, and whether employers are obligated to provide workers with a "fiscally prudent health care plan." The book then becomes a treatise on "privacy rights" and the unauthorized buying and selling of patients' health data. Fei devotes much space to what she calls the "modern medical-industrial complex" and what some might regard as an overly long but informed discourse on the history of employer-provided health care.
An urgent call for corporate compassion by a woman with a baby in peril.