I’m humbled today to present a guest post from Teresa Lutz, a local mom, on a book I reviewed this month, Karen Edmisten’s After Miscarriage. Here’s my review of that book.
I don’t know whether to say it was coincidental or something else that when I first received my review copy of After Miscarriage, within a few days I learned of three women in my circle of friends and acquaintances suffered stillbirths or miscarriages. I sent each of the women copies of the book, hoping it would provide comfort and support at some point, either now or in the future.
Teresa felt ready to share some thoughts about the book with me, and when I asked her if she would guest post about it, she readily agreed.
Teresa is wife to Mike and mom to two beautiful boys. She is a stay at home mom and works part time as an oncology nurse.
My husband and I were very excited to learn that we would be welcoming our third child into our family. We were shocked and heartbroken to find out at our 20-week ultrasound that our baby had a fatal neural tube defect called anencephaly. This meant that very early in my pregnancy her skull had not formed completely and as a result, she would be born with little brain tissue.
Her life expectancy was minutes or hours, if she made it through delivery. We decided to celebrate the gift of her life while she was still with us and spent the remainder of my pregnancy cherishing every moment. We were blessed with 36 weeks to love and care for our daughter before she went to Heaven. Gianna Therese was stillborn on February 19th 2012.
I found Karen Edmisten’s After Miscarriage to be comforting and practical at the same time. It gave both an insight into what other women have experienced after the loss of their babies, but also offered suggestions and information for women who may have recently gone through a miscarriage or stillbirth. The quotes, prayers and Bible passages help to provide perspective and hope to the struggles one might be facing.
I was actually surprised to find that most of the chapters made a lot of sense – I almost felt like I could have written some of them!
For instance, Edmisten even includes a passage from her journal stating that she was dreading going to the dentist and having to explain that her baby had died. I have also been dreading my upcoming dentist appointment.
It didn’t occur to me that other people had experienced those feelings of anxiety when faced with explaining to practical strangers why we are no longer pregnant, yet don’t have a baby, either.
The book was easy to read through, but isn’t one that necessarily needs to be read cover to cover. I was given a different book by my doctor which was in a similar format, but almost too lengthy. I will definitely suggest After Miscarriage to him.
Although the author does touch on both the topics of stillbirth and miscarriage, I could see how some people having gone through a late miscarriage or stillbirth might feel like it doesn't completely apply to them, especially if they didn't make it through the first few chapters.
Overall, I found it was a very helpful book - especially as a Catholic mother. At a time like this, it is good to read a book that provides both practical and spiritual comfort.
Nancy again here: I recalled, though I was not able to attend Gianna’s funeral, that several friends shared that the reflection shared by Teresa and her husband at the funeral was beautiful. Teresa also agreed to share this with Catholic Post readers:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Gianna Therese had a beautiful life surrounded by and knowing nothing but love. She was surrounded by love in the womb and we believe was carried directly to the waiting arms of God. We as Catholic parents, are called by our vocation of marriage, to strive above all else to work toward helping our children arrive in Heaven someday. The Church and our faith tell us to have confidence in God’s unending love and mercy for even the littlest souls. How can we not be filled with joy?
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” – Sam Keen
Gianna was not “perfect” in the worldly sense. She was not meant to be with us long on this earth and we knew that from early on. Some people have thought that we carried Gianna to term because we don’t believe in abortion, because we are Catholic, or perhaps we weren’t given the option to do otherwise. While some of these factors might have played a part in our immediate refusal to “terminate”, this is not what it is about. It is about love! It was about our child that was given to us as a gift to love and protect! Gianna’s life had value from the moment of conception, just as every life does.
We do not possess more strength than other people. It is not because we can cope where others wouldn’t. There was no way to avoid the sad fact that Gianna could not live long after birth, but causing her death earlier would not stop this from happening. Causing her death would have only taken from us the beautiful experience of knowing and loving her and allowing others to do the same. We wouldn’t wish away the time we had with Gianna to save us the tremendous pain of losing her. Was it worth it? YES! We had the chance to hold Gianna, to see her and to love her before letting go. Love your children, and remember that they each have their own unique mission. Children are always and only a blessing from God – even if they don’t stay very long.
Our daughter’s short life and certain death has prompted some wonderful things. This is our prayer as a family. “We gladly offer our baby back to You God, and endure the sorrowful pain of missing the soul we have come to love. If our offering prompts just one soul to grow closer to You, we offer Gianna with greater joy than the sorrow we are feeling.”
We appreciate the love, support and prayers we have received more than we can ever express with words. We have felt peace throughout this entire journey and although we are so sad and hurting, we know we are not alone. May God Bless you all for sharing this journey with us!