Michelle Lui with her daughter Avery, who spent the first two weeks of her life in hospital after being growth restricted in the womb. The Canadian Martyrs parishioner says the message behind her new book is that “babies all thrive in their own ways, and life is beautiful as it is.” (Contributed photo).

‘Life is beautiful as it is’: baby’s hospital stay inspires Richmond mom’s book celebrating life

By Tim James

For Michelle Lui, it’s about more than the four letters IUGR. 

The Richmond mother has written a children’s book, Me: My IUGR Story, following the premature birth of her daughter in June 2022, a traumatic experience that led her to her desire to raise awareness about the condition that affected her daughter.

“The message behind this book is to realize that babies all thrive in their own ways, and life is beautiful as it is, and that’s what should be celebrated,” said Lui, a parishioner at Canadian Martyrs Parish. 

Lui’s passion to write was inspired by her experiences with her daughter, Avery, who was growth restricted in the womb and spent the first two weeks of her life in the BC Women’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.  Lui hopes the colourful, animated story will help people – young and old – appreciate the sanctity of life as well as the importance of not making comparisons between children. 

“It’s not because people are trying to be rude or mean, but I think sometimes comments just come out where it’s like, ‘Oh, she does look smaller,’” said Lui. 

“I would say that it does affect me personally.” 

Avery is now considered healthy, but children diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are smaller than 90 per cent of babies of the same gestational age and sex, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. With time, these children can catch up in growth usually in the first two years of life.

 “Sometimes it can be a struggle to recognize that someone’s one-year-old or 10-month-old might look bigger than Avery, but recognize that Avery is doing well, and she’s meeting her milestones, which we’re all really excited about.” 

Proceeds from the sale of the book (after Amazon-associated fees are deducted) will go toward BC Women’s Hospital’s NICU in support of ongoing care of preterm infants.

It’s all been a new experience for Lui, an occupational therapist who has published academic writing but has never before written a children’s book. 

“It’s more of a family’s book, I would say,” said Lui. 

“It could be parents or soon-to-be parents … grandparents or relatives,” she said, “people who are just wanting to spread the word to bring hope and love to the community.” 

Avery, who will celebrate her first birthday on June 25, is Lui’s only child. Following a miscarriage, she is grateful for her rainbow baby.

“We’re just thankful every day that she’s growing well, and the medical team is very pleased with how she’s doing,” said Lui. 

“She’s thriving. Thank God for that.” 

Me: My IUGR Story is available on Amazon


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