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Surviving Miscarriage—In the Arms of an Angel is my personal and professional journey through miscarriage. It is a touching and sensitive look at one woman’s journey, my journey. I am a qualified doctor of clinical psychology, who has travelled into the darkness of a world void of understanding about the real anguish of miscarriage, and all my training, skills, and insights did not ease the pain or simplify my experience. The effect on my family is captured in diary notes and albums. I miss you, Xavier—you wood [sic] have bin [sic] the best brother. Love from Lincoln’ captures the hole left in the lives of existing children . . . siblings of the unborn baby. Drawing from my personal experience, I invite the reader to meet my unborn babies—Emerson, Xavier, Charlie, and Co. I share the healing journey that I travelled so that I can survive and comfort other parents in their survival. ‘Silent SIDS’ is a term I coined to capture the societal misconceptions, fears, and absence of support for families who have lost a baby. Miscarriage is likened to the social silence that often surrounds sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in that a baby has died, suddenly and from unknown causes, and whose death is surrounded by silence, the muteness of family and friends, society, and the medical profession. You will hear my husband, himself a medical surgeon, referring to our baby’s corpse as, ‘Interesting . . . pathology museum specimen . . . but not our baby’. I bring the reader face to face with my story of grief and the isolation that surrounded my miscarriage of Xavier’s pregnancy in Hong Kong . . . where English was not the first language, a trained English speaking Australian obstetrician was near impossible to find in a private hospital, and my husband, Tony, as well as my own private obstetrician were back home in Australia. The ugliness of grief is shared in all its nakedness: the plea—‘I want to die to be with Xavier’—the aimless staring without thought or motivation, and the horror of ‘tearing the baby in half’ will tug at the heartstrings of even the toughest of readers. And later, an embryo is created in the lab . . . Is that science fiction? Or is it a desperate willingness to do anything humanly, scientifically, and medically possible to have a baby? The journey through in vitro fertilisation began, and six precious cells were made . . . at the start of life. An obsessive drive to fill the cavernous aching void in my heart was IVF. Then along came the fear of loving William in case he too left me! Miscarriage is the startling outcome of one in four pregnancies. Why? I interrogated God for answers. I demanded to know why a baby is created and given, only to be torn away. I asked if it is some cruel, sick joke. The professional audience is also invited to view some of the most up-to-date grief and loss theories to promote a better understanding of the miscarriage experience. My intention is that the professional support of women and their families in this situation will become real and meaningful, instead of sterile and insensitive. Beautiful ideas about gardens and pastel drawings, poems, and jewellery are offered to women to help them acknowledge their baby, bring their baby to ‘life’, and keep their memory alive. Personal photographs and diary entries are shared with the reader to comfort and validate the experience of miscarriage. The ‘exclusive club’ that no one really wants to join because the joining fee—your baby has to die—is very expensive and has no perks like other clubs, no discounts, no Christmas party . . . only shared pain and sadness. Occasionally though, the club’s members offer support and comfort to each other, and in that regard, it’s worth joining if you meet the eligibility criterion. The book also provides a special look at how fathers’ grieve and the difference where women cope by talking and crying, and men cope by working and providing practical support. Men are offered a ‘map’ to guide them—men don’t know which way to go, they don’t turn to other men for advice or guidance, but they are good with maps, and thus a practical tool/framework is provided to help men negotiate the journey of grief following the loss of their baby through miscarriage. My husband, a general surgeon described our baby as a ‘pathological specimen that you might see in a medical library or museum’. The hurt of this is shared, but more importantly, it is used as a vehicle to show the difference between men and women, but even at a more micro-level, the difference between individuals. In Surviving Miscarriage—In the Arms of an Angel, I have tried to share a personal yet practical guide for surviving miscarriage . . . in the arms of an angel.
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by Dr. Lisa Phillips-Leece
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by Dr. Lisa Phillips-Leece
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by on September 29, 2016
- Xlibris, November 2010
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