Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review - "Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles"

*I received a copy of this book directly from the author, Timothy Spillane, to facilitate my review. I was not compensated in any other way.*

book review, preemie, quadruplets
Photo Courtesy of Timothy Spillane

"I wasn't sure what I was seeing when I finally leaned forward and peered into the incubator for the first time. The little mattress was covered with a striped white baby blanket no bigger than a dish towel. In the center of it, a tiny figure laid prostrate, its torso the shape and color of a not quite ripe tomato, the thin limbs splayed out to each side. The head was no bigger than a lemon and a knit wool cap was pulled down past the ears so I could not even see its face."  

These are the words that Timothy Spillane wrote in his book, "Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles."

My Personal Views

As I am sure many other preemie parents can understand, I have mixed emotions about this incredibly well-written book.

On one hand, I am disappointed that one in nine babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year. My heart breaks knowing that many of these premature babies require extensive Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stays.

I am disappointed that no vaccine or wonder drug exists to prevent prematurity from happening -- thereby eliminating the need for heart wrenching, and yet, inspiring books like "Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles."

Based on personal experience, I did not like the NICU roller coaster or the fear of the unknown. I can't imagine that anyone would enjoy such a traumatizing experience.

I did not enjoy the anxiety of not knowing whether or not my baby would survive one minute, let alone the next hour. And, I don't like knowing that prematurity could unexpectedly happen to any family at any time. 

Although I gave birth to a tiny and very premature baby, it's hard to imagine that Spillane had not just one, but FOUR grandbabies in NICU. Moreover, his own twins were also premature. 

Worrying about one baby in the NICU was considerably challenging. The stress that would come with premature twins -- and four premature grandbabies in the NICU many years later -- seems almost insurmountable to me.

On the other hand, "Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles" is the story of a mother and Army officer who tried her best to provide a good womb to her quadruplets and had her pregnancy cut short. 

It's a story of a family pulling together in prayer and in hope for the precious gift of four premature babies. 

It's a story of faith, hope, and love -- told from a devoted grandparent's perspective.

And, it's a story of the medical advances and technology that can allow premature babies to survive and thrive.

Ultimately, this book made me develop a greater appreciation for the gift of life -- and for the precious miracle of my very own daughter.


I'm not going to lie. I had a difficult time reading this book. For those of you who know me or who have been reading this blog, you may understand why. 

While reading this book, I found many similarities to the birth of my premature baby. In fact, Spillane's vivid descriptions had a profound effect on me -- and ultimately made my pregnancy, hospitalization, and NICU journey come back to life. 

For example, as Spillane and his wife, Donna, received phone calls to their Pennsylvania home from their daughter and son-in-law in Texas with pregnancy and other health updates, I vividly remember making calls to my parents in California about my pregnancy and hospitalization. 

When Spillane jumped into the plane to be with his daughter, Anne, I vividly remember my mom driving home to California from a road trip to Colorado. Then, she rushed to LAX to catch a red-eye to be with me in my Virginia hospital.

As Spillane made his trek to the NICU to see the quadruplets, I was winding my way through our hospital's convoluted maze of corridors, holding onto a wheelchair for balance, past the "Wall of Hope," and through the double doors of our NICU to see my preemie. 

When Spillane inspected his grandchildren for the first time, I found myself back in time. I was peering into my daughter's giraffe for the very first time, examining all of the wires surrounding her translucent body and the machines surrounding her fish tank-like home.

I could relate to Spillane when he wrote: "The thought crossed my mind that what I was seeing was the unfinished handiwork of God." 

And, as Spillane and his wife donned silver bracelets from the preemie organization -- the Graham's Foundation -- I found my cherished bracelet on my arm once more. I also found myself taking time to reflect on the three inspiring words engraved on this special cuff: "Hope, Resilience, and Miracles."

Although our stories were completely different, I noticed countless other connections throughout the book. So, you can surely understand why this book was a tough read for me. But I'm glad that I read it. 

"Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles" is the first book that I have read while serving as the primary caretaker of my preemie-toddler. I used to be a big reader, but having a baby changed that. So, it took me a considerable amount of time to read this 400+ page book. 

I also read the book slowly to take in its descriptive words and to reflect. At times, I put the book down to grieve my pregnancy cut short -- and to recount the 67 days in which my daughter was in the NICU, instead of at home. But, I always returned to the book wanting to learn more about Spillane's family, the quadruplets, and their health status.  

Photo Courtesy of Timothy Spillane
Throughout the book, I was consistently in awe of Spillane's unwavering faith and trust in God, which were both refreshing and uplifting. I found the book to consist of inspirational words of encouragement, and hope.

Although our preemie stories are not identical, Spillane's carefully chosen words allowed me to relate, relive my experiences, and give thanks for the blessings in life. 


Purchasing Information

If you would like to learn more about "Four Before Their Time: A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Miracles," or the book's author, Timothy Spillane, then please check out his website HERE. The book can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for review directly from the author, Timothy Spillane. He also provided me with an additional copy to provide to my NICU. This book review is not a compensated post and all opinions are my own. In addition, please note that I serve as a parent mentor for the Graham's Foundation.


  1. The book sounds like such an inspirational story! I couldn't imagine experiencing that.

    Katie @ Cup of Tea