Archive for Book Reviews
I know this week is bittersweet for many of us. You’re here because at least one of your sweet babies didn’t make it into your arms.
Mother’s Day is forever a mixed blessing for me. My first one, just two weeks after losing Casey at 20 weeks gestation, was so terrible I have blotted it from my memory. And even now, 14 years later, I still feel the pull of emotions in both directions as I think of the babies I lost (Casey, Daniel, Emma) and the ones that I got to keep (Emily, Elizabeth), and now, the one we’re trying for (our friends call him Thor even though he doesn’t exist yet…)
I want each of you to remember that whether that baby is in your belly, in your arms, or in the sky—you’re still a mother. It doesn’t matter who recognizes it or who doesn’t—your baby most certainly does.
I’m kicking off a week of give aways! You can comment here or on the Facebook page for chances to win! Feel free to comment both places—I’ll be giving away items both here and at A Place for Our Angels.
The first give away is a new book of poetry about infertility, pregnancy, and loss that came out just a few weeks ago by Nicole Breit, called “I Can Make Life.” This collection was a finalist in the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize this year.
Check it out below, or if that’s too small on your browser, click through to check it out bigger here!
All the mothers who win any of the give aways over the next few days will be notified on Mother’s Day this Sunday (if I remember! If not, on Monday.)
Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles: Everything You Need to Know about Miscarriage by Bruce Young, MD, and Amy Zavatto is the newest medical-based book on pregnancy loss. Other types of books focus on psychology, grieving, or anecdotes of women’s stories, but this is a very traditional doctor-to-patient manual.
I am always glad to find a book that is up to date and comprehensive, the best sort of resource for a woman who is ready to sit down and read, hoping to find a stronghold in what has felt like a freefall so that she can begin the search for answers.
Overall, this book delivered. The section on myths (and why luncheon meat does not cause miscarriage) made me want to leap up and shout, “Finally!” So many women, with their pregnancy manuals in hand, will apply the warnings about tuna and hair dye and hot tubs retroactively, certain that they caused their losses. Young clearly defines the line between a theoretical health risk and a serious miscarriage cause.
The book contains all the classic elements: signs of an impending loss, common causes, treatments, and thoughts on prevention. It has a nicely expanded section on the impact of health conditions that can complicate a pregnancy. Some of the stories were out-and-out riveting, including patient histories where one twin was failing and they had to make a careful decision on when to deliver for the safety of both, and the harrowing case of a woman with kidney disease trying to delay the birth so her baby would survive, even though she was risking death herself.
I would recommend this book, but I have some very sharp criticisms. I almost flung the book across the room in horror the moment I opened the Table of Contents.
I’m not sure who thought glib chapter titles such as “scarred and scared” for scar tissue or “misplaced trust” for ectopic was a good idea, but let me be clear: miscarriage is not and will never be funny. Do not try to be clever or use flip word play to women who are in real pain.
This happened again in the myths section. Young calmly talks about how working out, having sex, and caring for your other children are perfectly safe activities. Then, inexplicably, he gets cute, saying that because of the association between night work and an increased risk of miscarriage, “…You can work very hard, only not at night!”
Is that supposed to be funny? Are all the women who have evening shifts, nurses and factory workers and 911 operators, supposed to read that and think—I killed my baby? Once again I sat the book down and reflected on whether or not I could recommend it.
I am not a fan of the “I’m the doctor know-all” style, nor the way Dr.Young starts off each chapter by describing the physical characteristics (overweight, blonde, tall) of the woman whose case he is about to explain, but this is the most recent book that covers what many of you want to know—the how, the why, and the what next.
Since it does its job efficiently most of the time, I will, with some reservation, say, yes, I can recommend it to you. But don’t read it when you’re upset. Take up this book when you are ready to plod through some of the insensitive writing to get at the heart of the research and information.
More about Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles
To Full Term: A Mother’s Triumph over Miscarriage by Darci Klein and Mary Stephenson, MD (Berkeley Trade, 2007), is book I recommend primarily for women in the determined phase after their miscarriages, who want to hear a strong, steady voice describing one mother’s search for answers to her recurring losses.
Klein endured multiple heartbreaks. While her first pregnancy ended in a healthy child, she went into labor twelve weeks early and watched her baby’s first weeks from inside the walls of a NICU. Her second and third pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and her fourth pregnancy, twins this time, ended in a heartbreaking preterm labor at 20 weeks.
Her book begins as she finds out she is pregnant for the fifth time, just moving into a new house in a new city, and realizing she rapidly has to find a doctor to prescribe Heparin for Factor V Leiden, a clotting disorder that may have played a role in her losses. She has also been diagnosed with incompetent cervix, which leads to preterm labor.
Interweaved in the story are background facts, statistics about loss, the National Institutes of Health’s woeful funding on miscarriage, and what she feels is the incriminating lack of chromosomal testing on early miscarriages to separate women into those who had “bad luck,” and those who have a problem that can be treated to save pregnancies.
One point Klein and I whole-heartedly agree upon—women should be tested more often to ensure they don’t have one of the easily treatable causes of recurring loss. But even though her book cites the ACOG, the guidelines obstetricians follow in testing for miscarriage, which recommends waiting for two or more miscarriages, I have personally found from the stories of thousands of women who visit this site, that it doesn’t take much to convince the doctor to do some testing even after one loss. I have long advocated that if your doctor is unresponsive or dismissive, it’s time to find a new one.
Klein’s story is passionate and clearly told. She was adamant that she not lose any more babies and demanded medical intervention to save them.
I do think, however, that her mixture of stats and story is not very helpful in the early days following your first loss. It’s hard to feel emotionally involved in her journey when you are constantly being fed facts in an order that might not be what you want to know, when you want to know it. Her writing is very edgy and strong, a voice that might be difficult to relate to during your saddest days.
But for those of you who have had two losses or more, those of you who are determined, frustrated, and maybe still a bit angry at your lack of answers or your care, then this books is well told and solidly researched tale of the journey.
Learn more about the book.