About What Was Lost: Twenty Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope Paperback – 26 Dec 2006
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1) Dismissal of miscarriage in comparison to stillbirth - Be aware that this book contains stories involving pregnancy losses after 20 weeks which should not truly be classified as miscarriage. One of these stories contains a comment that I found very upsetting. The author had stillbirth and commented that she wasn't helped by the stories and comforting words of people whom she knew in real life who had had miscarriages because that wasn't the same as what she experienced. She stated that these other women had not seen their babies little hands or stroked their hair, so they didn't understand what she was going through. I understand that this book is a compilation of various women's personal experiences, and it's not as if the entire book undermines the significance of miscarriage. However, mothers and fathers who have miscarriages often struggle in part because people fail to recognize their loss as significant. Everyone understands that a woman and her partner need time to grieve if a child is stillborn or if an infant suddenly dies, however, people seem to have more difficulty realizing that miscarriage is also a real loss. In fact, I learned in some of my other eading that past studies indicate that women who lose babies in all these various ways grieve similarly. I had contemplated going to a support group in my area that is for parents of miscarried babies, stillborn babies, and desceased infants; however, reading this particular story made me question how I would be perceived by these other two groups of parents. I additionally found this story upsetting because I, like many other parents of babies who were lost to miscarriage, feel immense loss at the fact that I don't have an ultrasound picture that really looks like a baby, that I never got to feel my baby move, and that I never got to hold my baby. There are different regrets and types of grief associated with each of these losses. Grief is not a competition, and I felt like my loss was brushed off as insignificant by this particular author.
2) Emphasis on abortion - The other reviewer who commented that this book places a lot of emphasis on abortion is correct. I estimate that almost a half of the stories focus heavily on abortion. Some women write of miscarriages after previous abortions and several others write of miscarrying a pregnancy they had intended to abort. I think that this book could be really helpful for women who have been in either of these situations. Though I'm politically pro-choice, I'm a little more uncertain from a moral perspective and this uncertainty is only more pronounced after losing a very loved first trimester baby. Personally, it was painful to read again and again about abortion while grieving my deeply wanted baby who was not easily conceived. I don't mean to diminish the grief experienced by women who feel they can't keep their pregnancies for various reasons, I just personally had trouble hearing about it during this period of my life.
3) Easily conceived babies - Most of the authors in this book write about easily conceived babies, many of them accidental. Again, this will not bother every potential reader of this book, but for women who do not get pregnant particularly easily, it can be torture to hear about accidental or effortless conception. It becomes even more painful after a miscarriage.
This is not necessarily a bad book. The writing itself is, as expected, strong. I think it is important to realize that this is a collection of stories of women in a variety of situations with a variety of different responses to their miscarriages. It is important to note that not all of the authors are particularly sad about their miscarriages. Some experience relief and don't go on to have children. Some don't view their miscarriage as losing a baby. If your primary responses to your miscarriage are grief and devastation, then you may have a hard time reading it. If you are in one of the sitatutions described, it may be helpful. I wanted people to know my own issues this this book because it is expensive and because it may be conterproductive for some readers at a very sad, upsetting time. I found Miscarriage: Women Sharing from the Heart to be much more helpful.
As for a book I do recommend (and one that I felt I could relate to every single woman in the book) was called Miscarriage: Women Sharing from the Heart by Allen and Marks.