Baby’s fight for survival, mother’s perseverance inspire in powerful new memoir on infertility and premature birth

OAKLAND, Calif. – Pregnancy can feel scary enough when all things go according to plan, but how much does that fear escalate when you’re told your baby is arriving dangerously early? Author and mother Melissa Harris encounters all that and more, which she details in her breathtaking debut memoir, “One Pound, Twelve Ounces” (Nov. 2, 2021, She Writes Press).

Harris’ dream of being a mother again shatters when a fertility doctor tells her she may never have another child because of a physical anomaly in her uterus. Determined to persevere, she undergoes nine surgeries, goes through a year of fertility treatments and endures multiple miscarriages. When what she’s decided will be her last attempt results in becoming pregnant, she’s told that this baby, Sam, is also at risk. While lying in a hospital bed for six days, trying to get to the golden standard 24-week gestation mark, Harris makes a decision: She will give this baby every chance to live, no matter what it takes.

Follow this inspiring journey of one mother’s determination to give her micro-preemie a fighting chance — and the story of that baby’s remarkable battle to survive.

“A powerful story of resilience and parental love. Melissa does a beautiful job of taking the reader on her journey through infertility and heartache … What Melissa went through to become a mother again and what Sam endured in his first year will leave you feeling inspired and hopeful. It’s through stories like this that we humanize one another. A must read.” — Aaron Wright, award-winning author of “Thirteen Doors”

“One Pound, Twelve Ounces:
A Preemie Mother’s Story of Loss, Hope and Triumph”
Melissa Harris | Nov. 2, 2021 | She Writes Press | Memoir
Paperback | 978-1647422134 | $16.95 | Ebook | $9.95

MELISSA HARRIS is a single mother of two children living in Oakland, Calif., where she was raised. She was on the fast track to being a partner in a mid-sized ad agency when she gave birth to her second child, Sam, and the trajectory of her life changed. Melissa is now a work-from-home account manager for two virtual creative agencies in the Bay Area. In her free time, she drives kids from activities to appointments to playdates, volunteers at the neonatal intensive care unit at Alta Bates Hospital where Sam was born, and helps her congresswoman fight for better health care for all Americans. For more information, visit Melissa’s website, .

Follow Melissa on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

In an interview, Melissa Harris can discuss:

  • How she coped mentally, physically and emotionally with the struggle to become pregnant and her miscarriages
  • The American health care system and the roles it plays in fertility, pregnancy and birth
  • Parental leave policies among U.S. employers and how they affect employees
  • Her work with her state representative to fight for better health care
  • Advice for those struggling with infertility, miscarriage, or a premature birth
  • How to best support people struggling with becoming or staying pregnant
  • Her PTSD diagnosis and the frequency with which it affects mothers of premature babies
  • How writing her own experiences grew into the idea for the memoir
  • The ways her book differs from other books tackling infertility and prematurity

An interview with Melissa Harris

It must have been extremely challenging both mentally and emotionally during the struggle to become and stay pregnant. How did you cope?

I am not sure I did cope! The years of trying to get pregnant were so difficult emotionally. Every time the pregnancy test came back negative, I felt like a failure. That feeling was further enforced by the fertility doctor telling me that the struggle was due to my body. The only thing that kept me going was my desire for a second child and the sweet face of my daughter.

What advice do you have for those struggling with infertility and the pregnancy journey?

Forgive yourself. Pregnancy loss is not your fault. Trouble getting pregnant is not your fault. Be kind to yourself and know you are not alone. Get a therapist, an outlet for your anger, something. I wrote and I talked to my therapist. Letting those feelings out is vital.

How can a loved one, family, friends, etc. best support someone who is struggling with challenges in pregnancy?

The best support is to be available. Be honest: You don’t know what that person is going through; you can’t take their pain away. What you can do is be patient and understanding. It can be hard to be around someone who is sad all the time, but remember, it’s not about you. Send a funny video, a kind note, let them know that even if they don’t respond you are there — no matter what.

How has your parenting journey changed as a single mother?

Single parenting is a whole different level of parenting. You are now balancing being outnumbered by kids (at least in my house) and having to coordinate with a co-parent on rules. In my personal case, I have the kids over 80 percent of the time and an added layer of a co-parent who is less involved and not 100 percent in agreement on the structure my kids need. It’s a fine line to walk — and a complex one.

Why did you decide to write your story as a memoir instead of the blog you began writing?

I started my blog as a way to keep my brother, who lived in Lesotho at the time, informed about what was going on with Sam. Then it grew, as family and friends from all over began to turn to the blog for updates. Then, friends who knew people with a preemie would ask if they could share my blog or even introduce me to their friends. It became clear to me that my story and experience could be helpful for others.

What sets your book apart from other memoirs tackling the same topics?

I am not a doctor. I am not religious. The majority of books on these topics are either written by someone with a medical background or someone who believes that God’s will is an important factor in their story. Neither are the case with me. I am just telling my story. What I learned, what I felt, what I experienced. It is a real story, told by a real person for other real people.

How is Sam doing today?

Sam is amazing. He is almost 11. He is slightly nearsighted (who isn’t) and sometimes gets constipated (who doesn’t). He was diagnosed with autism when he was around 2½ years old. He is currently main-streamed at a dual-language immersion school. Sam is fully bilingual (English/Spanish), has a great group of friends, is a huge fan of Usain Bolt, NASCAR and F1. He tells the BEST jokes. Basically: Sam is a hoot, and I can’t wait to see him continue to grow.