Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Selection #2

Today, I read another babyloss memoir, Out of Grief, Singing by Charlene Diehl. I was searching through the on-line catalog for our local library, looking for books about grief in general since I was sure I had already read all the books that I thought applied to me from the small babyloss section. This one came up under grief but it is very much a book about babyloss. I have no real idea how to review a book so I'm just to cover what I think a babyloss mom needs to know to decide if she wants to read this book.

The author delivered her daughter at 28 weeks in November 1995 due to severe pre-eclampsia. Her daughter Chloe lived for 7 days, most of which the author spent fighting both hypertension and a debilitating spinal headache. The first part book is a detailed memoir about what the author experienced during her daughter's life and time immediately after her death. The second part of the book covers the first few months after Chloe's death and the third covers the time from then to the present. Clearly a lot of time has passed since the author lost her daughter, but the writing about Chloe's life and death felt immediate and unfiltered by time. The author does go on to have 2 more children, the first of which was born 2 years less 2 days before what should have been Chloe's 2nd birthday (so there was no instant next baby to make those of us who are fighting or had to fight to get pregnant again feel bitter).

I liked this book. Yes it's more "flowery" than An Exact Replica... (the author is also a poet) but it's not overly sappy or cheery (as the title might lead you to assume). I liked getting the perspective of a mom more than 10 years after her loss. I liked hearing how her living kids think of their older sister. Again, the passage from the book that resonated with me the most was right at the end...

" She is not someone I remember, but someone I know. She may not be alive, but neither is she absent. And love? It is not something I do, not something I bestow. It's bigger than I can comprehend, and unpredictable, like weather. Love is my elemental connection with Chloe - it is a medium we share, a force that makes sense of us both. I understand it no better than I understand death, but I know I am in it, absolutely and irrevocably. It connects me to others, to the earth, to thoughts, to beauty. It blesses me and challenges me. "

The only part of the book that made me feel "bad" (and this isn't a criticism of the book) was how so many people in the author's life could genuinely express love for her daughter. I don't know if it's because her daughter was born alive and lived for at least a few days, where my son did not or if was because the author's parents had also lost baby and where better equipped to help her deal with acknowledging Chloe right after she died where I was just so overwhelmed with sadness and shock that I just wanted to make the rest of the world disappear. No matter the reason, it makes me sad that the people in my life don't love Reid the way Chloe was and is loved to this day.

I hope I have done justice to this book. I must admit to being a little biased towards the book as the author is Canadian and a prairie girl as well. I hope some of you get the chance to read it too. Let me know what you think.


Missy said...

I will find it immediately. I may as well shoot I've read so many! I thank you for sharing. I feel you on the last part too. I feel a twinge of jealousy and great sadness at times when I read about the outpouring of things people have done for other moms.

Violet1122 said...

Thanks for the review. I haven't heard of this book, and it's on my reading list now.

I, too, like the idea of reading about someone who had to wait quite awhile for a rainbow baby to appear.

LetterstoClaire said...

Thank you for the review- there are more books out there than I expected about baby loss and it's hard knowing which ones may be applicable. I've read a lot of amazon reviews but they aren't always reviewed by people who have lost babies and can't speak to whether the narrative is authentic or not. It hasn't been 3 months yet since my daughter died, so I'm not ready to read anything quite yet (I shed enough tears over my loss and the loss of all the babies in the blog world) to share some more on books. But one day I'll be ready and I'll keep this one in mind.