Miscarriage Resources and Advice

So today I’m supposed to write about the best advice I’ve received since my miscarriage, and honestly, this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s where I am, and I’m ok with it for now. I’ve read a lot of things that were supposed to be encouraging that really just pissed me off or made me sadder than I was before, and almost all of them were what I would call the “correct” Christian response to miscarriage. If you don’t know what I mean by that, I’m talking about the things that acknowledge the pain (sort of) but then in the same breath wipe it away with a Bible verse or an attribute of God or something similar. Even as a Christian, it’s hard for me to read that stuff because it’s just not that easy. It feels like jumping straight to the resolution of grief without working through the grief, and I just don’t buy that those people truly feel that peaceful or faith-filled unless they’re a lot further removed from it than I am six weeks out. And maybe when they wrote their stuff, it had been a couple of years and they had already reached a deeper level of resolution, but I am most definitely not there, and I refuse to fake it.

The best advice is the most honest, which also seems to be the best way process grief. There’s no need to try and faith it away (one of the books I’ll recommend below actually says that’s a way of denying or repressing grief.) You just slog through it one minute at a time. And the minutes turn into hours, and the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks, and sometimes you feel ok, and sometimes you feel lousy, but I’m told that one day several months from now, I’ll wake up and realize that I feel different. Maybe not good or even better, but just different. Six weeks out, all I can tell you is that I’m ok at best all the time, but that’s an improvement over the first two weeks, when I spent more of each day crying than not.

My two favorite pieces of advice so far are:

“Be kind to yourself.” ~Dawn

“Take your time, bro.” ~Dallas

Simple, easy to remember, and necessary, both of these reminders help me to be patient as I trudge through the crap and give myself a lot of grace. And the fact that Dallas calls me “bro” just makes me smile.

Books on Miscarriage

The best thing I’ve read so far has been a book called Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis. It’s written for people (particularly women) who have lost babies to miscarriage or stillbirth, or who have lost babies after birth, so not all of it speaks directly to me, and I generally just skipped over the bits that didn’t apply to my situation. What’s great about it, though, is that it’s quite comprehensive. It explains everything that you’re going through, tells you that it’s normal to go through those things, and then shares stories from other women who’ve been there just in case you still feel abnormal. I would recommend it for anyone who has lost a baby big enough to have a name. If you had an early miscarriage, you might feel like you have less in common with the parents whose stories are shared.

A friend also gave me a book called Free to Grieve by Maureen Rank. I’ve flipped through it and read some parts, so I can tell you that it’s a book for Christians, and it’s more story-based than Empty Cradle, which has snippets of women’s stories but not long narratives like this one. My friend said she liked it because it walked her through the grieving process after her first miscarriage and encouraged her that her feelings were normal and ok to have. This book does seem appropriate for women who’ve had an early miscarriage. It answers a lot of questions you might have about the medical procedures you went through, and it discusses options for the future as well as how to protect your marriage after going through a miscarriage.

Another friend gave me a book called Never Alone in the Shadows from this website. It’s a read-a-page-a-day sort of deal, and while it is faith-based, I find it encouraging rather than infuriating because I think it comes from a genuine heart of faith and concern for bereaved parents rather than a desire to straighten it all out as quickly as possible without showing any signs of a wavering faith. It’s taking me a while to get through it, honestly, because I tidied up the coffee table, put some things on top of it, and forgot it was hiding under there. But I shall resume now.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you know of any helpful websites, discussion boards, books, or support groups for women, men, couples, or families coping with the loss of a baby, please comment and let us know. I’d love to build up an arsenal of resources for myself and others who’ve lost babies.


Hey remember a month ago when I blogged like twice?? Sigh. Yeah, that was nice. Here are some things I’ve been doing/thinking about since then:

  • I went kayaking in Asheville last weekend. It was beautiful, I got to see some good friends, and I spent all my money eating delicious food (and maybe also on a teeny-tiny little visit to Urban Outfitters). I’d like to go kayaking more often. I would not like to get sunburnt every time. Guess I should work on my base tan.
  • Whitney and I stopped at pretty much every Lowe’s and Home Depot off I-40 on the way home and lifted a bunch of paint sample cards (I want to call them paint chips, but that doesn’t feel right. Is that right?) to spruce up our accent wall. If you’d like to come over and get your hot glue on, feel free. We’re also thinking of having a house-warming party wherein our guests would help us with this project. Don’t miss it! This was a pretty fun way to break up a four-hour drive. At the first couple of stores, we both kept a watchful eye out for the employees working the paint department, feeling like we were doing something dangerous, but by the time we got to Greensboro, we were brazenly stuffing our bags with the things and commenting freely on the colors we were taking. No one seemed to care.
  • I got a new computer because I filled up my old one. Filled it full. It literally has maybe room enough for another album’s worth of songs. I haven’t named the new one yet. Any suggestions?
  • I’m teaching a new class at NC State, which is pretty hit or miss. I’ve never taught this class before, and I’ve never been given textbooks to use before or had to make a syllabus, so it’s taking a little while to figure out. What I’m learning is that 18-year-olds are lazy, but they think they’re really busy and super cool, I should rely on my own teaching smarts and lean on textbooks for idea-sparks and support, cultural differences are probably more difficult for the students but far more annoying for the teacher, and a two-hour class FLIES by when you’re used to four-hour classes. So basically, there are pros and cons, but I think once I figure out how to add my own flair to the class, it’ll be awesome.
  • In the past week, I’ve been a part of or witnessed at least four conversations that went something like this:
    A: I really want to be more ________.
    B: Um, you are already totally ________.
    This has got me very curious. I’m wondering why we feel like we’re not enough of things we already are, if the reason we notice the lack of these qualities is that we also (maybe subconsciously) notice their presence, how we go about becoming more of who we are, and how we can help each other along. Your thoughts are welcome.
  • I can’t WAIT for fall. Oh my gosh. I just want to run through a big shower of red and orange leaves while wearing a scarf! That’s all I want.
  • We got a basil plant. It’s dying. How do you keep basil from dying?
  • I’ve read about six books this summer, which is not much for some of you, but for me, that’s a lot. I needed to find one to read with my class this semester, though, so I had to plow through a few pretty quickly. Let’s see, there was Godric, which wasn’t an option for class, but it is lovely. It just has some really nice lines in it – the kinds of phrases that you want to turn over and over in your head and hang on to in your life. Then there was The Giver, Playing for Pizza, The Kite Runner, Holes, and Hoot. I think we’re going to read Hoot in class, but next up is The Book Thief. If you’d like a review of any of these titles, let me know. I’d be happy to oblige. It’d give me a solid blogging topic.
  • I want to write more. I miss it. I’ve got so many little bits and pieces of ideas and so many big chunks of things already done, but nothing is even close to being finished. Also, I just miss playing with words, getting phrases just right, saying exactly what it is I want to say, and telling stories. Stories are the best.
  • I should write down a story every day. Nothing big or even fictional. Just something that happened. It doesn’t have to have a moral or anything. Just a story.

Ok that’s enough. Time to make a flow chart to help students decide if they need to use other, another, the other, others, or the others. Fun times!

I’m a Reading Machine

I am procrastinating on today’s packing just a bit longer to bring you a quick book review of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’d been putting off reading this one for no apparent reason. I just wasn’t into it, I guess. But then when I was packing to go to the beach last weekend, I figured I may as well take it with me. If I started it and liked it, I could keep going, and if I didn’t like it, the house has plenty of other things to read. Well, I started reading it Friday night on the ferry over to the island, and it took a good 50 pages for me to really get into it, but after that, I was hooked. The rest of my family has already read all three of the books in this series, and they tell me that the other two are easier to get into because you already know the characters and don’t have to go through the whole introduction part in the beginning.

I’m looking forward to that, but I have forbidden myself from reading any more fiction until after I move. I just wouldn’t get anything done, and I have a LOT to get done, so no more books for a week and a half. Then I am definitely going to read the other two Larsson books.

In a nutshell, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about a completely wacko family, a girl who isn’t crazy but is thought to be by the state, a journalist, his “business partner” (with whom he has a wholly inappropriate relationship), and a whole heck of a lot of crimes against women in Sweden. Y’all, there was so much about this story that I didn’t like, yet I would have to give the book at least three stars. Probably four. Because the things I didn’t like were the things that the characters were doing, and it wasn’t that I had a literary problem with them. It was that I had a moral problem with them. But I’m not scoring books based on my own personal moral compass. I’m scoring them based on the writing and the entertainment value. And this book is extremely well-written and gripping.

I’d be interested to know what I missed having read the English translation of a book originally written in Swedish (and also what I missed by simply not being Swedish) because I got the feeling that there were a fair number of cultural jokes and references that were lost on me. But other than that, the characters were believable and still haven’t given everything away about themselves, which makes me want to read the next book. The story moved at a good pace. I did NOT expect what happened to have happened. And the story was tied up nicely while still leaving you with a little cliff-hanger. I liked it.

Four stars. ****

Book Review: The Hunger Games

This is actually a review of an entire series, not just one book. “How is it possible that you’ve read three books since your last review?” some of you may be asking. Well, I honestly don’t know except I have sacrificed sleep, which should make some of you fall out of your chair. And just stay down there on the floor for a minute while I tell you this: It was totally worth it. 

The Hunger Games is the first of three books in the series by Suzanne Collins. The second is Catching Fire, and the third is Mockingjay. Y’all should read them all. For real. Immediately. I’ll just go ahead and tell you they get five stars. *****

Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you what it’s about. The story is told by Katniss Everdeen, a teenaged girl in a dystopian future society. Her nation, Panem, consists of a Capitol surrounded by twelve districts. At some point in the past, the districts tried to rise up against the Capitol and failed. To remind them who’s in charge, the Capitol holds an annual event called the Hunger Games. Each district must choose a boy and a girl to send to the Games, where they will fight to the death the “tributes” from the other districts. The one who is left standing is promised a lifetime of wealth and security, but they have to go through hell to get there. This is all done televised live for the whole nation to see – for the oppression of the districts and the entertainment of the Capitol.

You can guess pretty easily that Katniss ends up a tribute in the Hunger Games, but that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot. This story is so well written, so compelling and so engaging. It’s one of those stories that, when you aren’t reading it, you’re afraid that you’re missing something. You’ll be at work worried about what’s happening to Katniss while you’re not glued to the pages.

It will also twist your mind up somethin’ fierce, so watch out for that, but I promise, it’s SO good. And it’s young adult fiction, so it’s not too gory (although there’s lots of death), and there’s no sex or cussing at all. Read it. Read it now. Then let’s discuss.

The Help: A Book Review by Beth Parent

I told myself several times yesterday that I would NOT stay up until all hours of the night finishing The Help. I’m trying to get back on a normal sleeping/waking schedule, see, because morning registration is tomorrow, and classes start back on Monday.

But then last night, I took the book to bed with me and read straight through to the end. I don’t even know what time I went to sleep because by the time I finished reading, my phone had turned itself off, which means it was at least 1:00 a.m. Dangit. No self control.

Anyway, The Help by Kathryn Stockett is great. I liked it a lot. I would almost say I loved it. The only thing I didn’t love about it, in fact, was the way it was told. The story is about black house maids and their white employers in Jackson, Mississippi in the early ’60s. Some chapters are from the perspective of one maid, some from that of another maid, and some in the voice of a young white woman who is sympathetic toward the maids, largely because she’d had a maid of her own growing up whom she loved dearly, but who has disappeared (not in a Dean Koontz sort of way, just nobody will tell her what happened).

I found the three perspectives to be a little bit confusing, especially when chapters from the points of view of the two maids were told back-to-back, because they had similar voices, and I kept having to remind myself who was talking.

Also (and I realize this is going to sound contradictory since I just said having three perspectives was confusing), there was a fourth major character whose perspective I wished I could have seen. If you’ve read the book, I’m talking about Hilly. I think it really would have rounded out her character (and the story) to let us see her and the the world through her own eyes.

The character development as a whole, however, was fantastic. I found myself doing each character’s voice in my head, and they were all completely distinct. By the time I was finished, I knew those people. Stockett does a great job of showing us the characters through their words and action. (Koontz, in stark contrast, spends a whole page explaining to us that one of his characters is “careful.” Then he kills him off. I might actually have to go reduce the number of stars I gave his book.)

The plot is good too. It’s relatable, it’s emotionally stirring, it moves right along, I didn’t roll my eyes at any of it, and I don’t think there’s anything in it, really, that is unnecessary. Even things like Skeeter’s mom’s health, which might seem like just unnecessary details of her life or fillers to make her chapters longer when Stuart’s not around, come into play in a significant way at some point. Nothing is wasted (except for Celia Foote at the party).

I’m giving The Help four stars, and I would recommend that you read it. It’s not my new most favoritest book on earth, but I really, really, really, really liked it. ****

2011 Reading List

I’d been feeling like my life had developed a large void where fictional books ought to be. I read a fair amount, but mostly I gravitate towards memoirs, humor, books about writing, and Christian non-fiction. And then suddenly, I needed to read fiction. What probably happened was that my brain knew it was turning to mush because I’d spent several days watching several seasons of Friends, and my brain decided it needed to tell me to read something as a last ditch effort to save itself before it turned to goo and oozed out of my ears.

I wanted a good story I could just lose myself in – a page turner – nothing that required a degree in philosophy to fully enjoy, but nothing so vacuous and formulaic as Nicholas Sparks either. So I turned to my facebook friends for advice, and here’s what I’ll be reading this year:

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Rescue by Anita Shreve
  • Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream both by Francine Rivers
  • Into the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
  • Silent in the Grave by Deanna Rayborn
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • The Magicians by Les Grossman
  • Monster by A Lee Martinez
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams
  • The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • The Confession by John Grisham
  • Lush Life by Richard Price
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I don’t know if I’ll actually get to them all, but I’ll try to give y’all a book report after each one. Starting now…

At the advice of another friend who did not chime in on the facebook discussion, I just read Phantoms by Dean Koontz. Now. I asked him specifically if it was a book girls would like, and he said he didn’t see why not. What I should have asked was, “Will girls who are reading it alone late at night in a quiet house like it?” But he probably wouldn’t have seen a problem with that either.

Y’all. That mess freaked. Me. Out. It’s not even that the writing is all that good. It’s long-winded, he repeats details unnecessarily, homeboy’s editor seriously should have removed half the profanity (he actually probably did, and what was left was quite minimal in comparison to the original manuscript, which is frankly scarier than the plot itself), the characters’ names stole the spotlight from the action, he used the word “said” almost every time someone said something (answered, replied, stated, exclaimed, queried, asked, wondered aloud, whispered, breathed, shouted – just a random sample of alternatives), and don’t get me started on his flagrant overuse of adverbs.

However, when you’re reading a plot like that in a dark, silent house alone, it doesn’t matter that the writing isn’t perfect. All that matters is that you don’t want “it” to get you like it got everyone in Snowfield.

I got into it. So help me I got really, really into it. Then Whitney got into it too.

I was telling her about it as I was getting ready to go to bed on Saturday night, and she agreed that it was not a good suggestion for me to read. But then on Sunday afternoon, somehow we started reading it aloud to each other, and before we knew it, we’d read nearly 200 pages. I won’t lie. It was better than TV. You might feel silly at first, but seriously, try it. If you have a spouse or friend or roommate who’s willing to read with you, go for it.

In our case, reading aloud made the monster less scary, I think because we weren’t left alone with our imaginations. But it was really fun to get into the story together. Also, there were several parts where, alone, we might have just glossed over the wording, but when we read it out loud, we could hear just how ridiculous it sounded. This provided us with some levity as well as a great deal of entertainment.

All in all, on a scale of one to five, I’d give Phantoms by Dean Koontz two stars for holding my attention from start to finish, keeping me guessing until the end, and freaking me the cuss out. **