Tag Archives: infant loss

Books About Miscarriage

I already had quite a few books about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss on my shelf prior to my own miscarriage (some from my CBE training and some from when I worked at the Ronald McDonald House). I read them all in the days following my own miscarriage and have since ordered and read many more. I wanted to share the list here in case it will help anyone else:

After Miscarriage: Medical Facts and Emotional Support for Pregnancy Loss–this was one of the best books I bought. It was lighter on the emotional side than many of the others. This isn’t necessarily good in and of itself, but it was what I needed to read after reading about 6 books with an emphasis on the emotional side and almost no exploration of the physical side (my observation of most books on this subject). Plus, this book was published in 2008, so it is fairly up-to-date and so I trusted the information in it about miscarriage causes more than I did the info in the 90’s books I have. I also liked that the sole focus is on miscarriage.

Empty Arms: Coping with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death-one of the things I found interesting in this one was the question, “Are miscarriage and stillbirth really all that different? Is stillbirth more painful because the baby was carried longer?…’What is miscarriage, but an early stillbirth?'” This is how I felt about my own experience—like it was an early stillbirth. Perhaps if there had been no baby to see and touch and relate to, I would separate the two more readily??

Help, Comfort, & Hope after Losing Your Baby in Pregnancy or the First Year—this one is one of the best for sure. It is from 1997, but because it doesn’t address medical issues, it is completely relevant. This is one that I had my shelf since my time at RMHC and I’m glad I had it, it was very helpful and I really recommend it. It covers a lot of ground, because it includes infant loss throughout the first year of life. It has helpful sections for family members, friends, and professionals. Highly recommended!

Mourning Sickness: Stories and poems about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss—a more creative, exploratory, personal look at the experience. I marked one quote in which the woman says (referring to being at the hospital): “This is no place to have any real feelings or to let myself wonder why this is happening.” That is exactly how I felt at the doctor’s office when we found out Noah died. I felt like they were expecting me to cry or something, but what I felt was, “get me out of here and THEN I’ll let myself feel.” I even said that to the nurse-practitioner we’d seen—“I’ve got to process this later.”

Miscarriage: Women Sharing from the Heart—I got a lot out of this one emotionally. After Miscarriage was my favorite for medical information and this one was one of my favorites for the emotional side as well as for exploring grief and transformation.

Surviving Pregnancy Loss: a Complete Sourcebook for Women and Their Families—on the older side, didn’t get much out of it.

Unspeakable Losses: Healing from Miscarriage, Abortion, and Other Pregnancy Loss—something I marked from this one was “And before my own losses taught me differently, I had always assumed that once they were over, there was nothing more to say about this unseen losses.” Of course, there IS lots more to say. Hence, this blog. Another quote I marked from this book is: “As a culture, we seem to have an intolerance for suffering; we tend to want those who have experienced a loss of any kind to get on with their lives as quickly as possible. Often, by minimizing the impact of significant losses pathologizing those whose reactions are intense, and applauding those who seem relatively unaffected by tragic events, we encourage the inhibition of our grief. In both obvious and subtle ways, we tell those who grieve they are wrong to be so upset, to dwell on their miseries.”

Coping with a Miscarriage: Why it happens and how to deal with its impact on your family—I do not recommend this one. It is on the older side and it persists in referring to miscarriage as “spontaneous abortion” or even just “abortion.” I hate that. It drives me crazy and makes me mad. I know that SA is the technical, medical term for miscarriage, but I refuse to “own” the term. I have a hard enough time with “miscarriage” being enough. SA just feels like a slap in the face as well as just wrong. Like many medical terms for things affecting women, it is insulting in a way—like “incompetent” cervix or “irritable” uterus…

Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy after a Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death—I coincidentally had this one on my to-sell shelf for Amazon. I unlisted it and read it myself—at the time, I wasn’t ready to consider the possibility of trying again, so I probably need to re-read it.

Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses—this is one I had on hand from my CBE training. It is good. Again, on the old side, but pretty much exclusively emotional, so it doesn’t really matter—it doesn’t feel “dated.”

Presenting Unexpected Outcomes–another one from my CBE training. Same other as Empty Arms above. It is helpful as an educator, but wasn’t particularly useful as a woman.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby—another one focusing on emotional recovery.

For my kids, I bought the children’s book Something Happened. My older son (6) was reluctant to have me read it to him, but when I did, he kept nodding and saying things like “yeah.” It was an interesting experience. I’ve only read it to them once.

I also have two more that recently came from Bookins and I haven’t read them yet:

Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage—this one is written by a man whose wife had three miscarriages. He is a health writer and investigative journalist.

Miscarriage: Women’s Experiences & Needs—I don’t know anything about this one.

Maybe this seems like a lot or “too much” reading, but I have found it very helpful. Reading is what I do! So, having this experience is no different for me—I read in order to make sense of my own feelings and experiences. I also have found it helpful to paticipate in the Pregnancy and Birth Loss form at mothering.com. Though is is also scary in a way—there is SO MUCH PAIN carried in the world surrounding childbearing loss. It is staggering what so many women and families have gone through. My innocence is definitely lost and reading about other women’s experiences makes me worried about doing this over and over again (or having subsequent even more emotionally painful losses).


Lavender & Letting Go

Most of the content in this post was originally posted at Talk Birth.

My life has taken a sad and unexpected turn. I was 14 weeks and 4 days pregnant with my third baby and we found out on Friday, November 6th that the baby had died. Very early Saturday morning, Nov 7, he was born at home. Though it was different in some ways than a full-term birth, my experience of miscarriage was very much a birth–-my water broke, I had normal contractions for about two hours, the baby was born (about 4 inches and well-formed with eyelids, nostrils, a mouth that opened, fingers, toes, etc.), we saw the little, spiraled umbilical cord, and so forth. I was surprised to discover that some of the same feelings of empowerment were also present after a “natural home miscarriage” as with a natural home birth-–I felt strong and brave and like “I did it myself!” as well as amazed at how well my body worked and knew what to do. In the afternoon, my father took the baby home and cleaned him up (when the baby first slipped out he was completely pink and clean, but I lost a great deal of blood and a lot of it ended up on the baby before I changed clothes).  After cleaning him up, we learned the baby was our third boy and we named him Noah (see naming reason/dedication here).

There are a lot of losses that accompany the loss of a baby and one of the ones that is hard for me is that my life is devoted to helping women give birth with confidence, strength, and joy and to embrace pregnancy and birth as wonderful events. It is sad to me to feel somehow “marked” now and to perhaps contribute to other women’s fear/elevated perception of risk—-“if it could happen to her, it could happen to me!” I had a feeling or fear of being a “bad omen” instead of a source of encouragement. :( When I wrote about this on my other blog, I received a number of wonderful comments that encouraged me that my experience would not make others “scared” of me, but would continue to deepen and enrich my ability to support other and to provide good birth education. This fear still lingers a bit however, though the comments helped a lot, and I think that is one reason why I’m creating this new blog.

One thing I did share on my other blog about the birth of my third baby that I’d found tremendously meaningful, is that the  afternoon I found out he’d died, I’d received a package from Taylor’s Scarlet Thread. I had ordered a bonnet and apron from them for a Kirsten costume (Kirsten is an American Girl doll) for myself. They sent along a little lavender sachet as a free gift with my order. When my labor began, for some reason I wanted the sachet and held and smelled it throughout my labor. I also used it to kind of revive myself when I felt like I was fainting several times afterward. I talked to the baby and to myself before I started having regular contractions telling myself and the baby that we need to “let go” of each other and that it was time to let go. During the labor, I chanted to myself, “let go, let go, let go” and smelled my sachet.  Several days later, I was reading a book about miscarriage and it had some aromatherapy suggestions in it. It listed lavender for “letting go”…