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They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth

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ISBN-13: 978-1442204126
ISBN-10: 1442204125
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They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth + Empty Cradle, Broken Heart, Revised Edition: Surviving the Death of Your Baby + Grieving the Child I Never Knew
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Editorial Reviews

Review

As is true for all obstetricians, I was confronted with the reality of stillbirth early on in my career. Nothing prepares mothers for this potentially devastating experience. The process must be shared and grieved if the wounds are to fully heal. They Were Still Born helps this process enormously. This collection is beautiful, moving, and healing. (Christiane Northrup, M.D., OB-GYN; author of the New York Times bestselling Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause)

These courageous, moving accounts from the fierce front lines of infant loss are filled with rare beauty and insistent love. They Were Still Born will help heal the bereaved and illuminate a culture that has for too long closed its eyes to the pain and devastation of stillbirth. A tour de force. (Lorraine Ash, author of Life Touches Life: A Mother's Story of Stillbirth and Healing)

The nearly two-dozen-chapter book's authors include a wide variety of men and women — a bereavement specialist, an obstetrician, a staff writer for The Washington Post, a registered nurse, a professor, an anthropologist, and more, all of whom share their experiences....In addition to the poignant essays, They Were Still Born includes a section called "The Way Forward," which features ideas for honoring and remembering your baby and engaging in creative expressions of grief. It also includes chapters on what doctors currently know about stillbirth, as well as emerging research on the topic. There is also a 10-page listing of resource books for adults and children, support networks, blogs and more. (Delaware Online)

There is useful information about the need for more autopsies following stillbirth and better data collection to assist with research into 'unexplained' stillbirth. Overall, this book should be a valuable resource not only for mothers grieving for a stillborn child, but also for their partners, relatives, and the wider community. (The Lancet)

About the Author

Janel Atlas is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in various regional and national publications. Since her daughter’s stillbirth, in 2006, Atlas has written extensively about pregnancy and infant loss. She now lives in Delaware with her husband, two daughters and one son.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442204125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442204126
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Angie Ramsey on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether you had a loss 3 months ago (like myself) or 30 years ago, or even if you have a friend, sister, daughter who had a child born still, this book will touch you deeply. I felt I could have written just about all of the stories that were put in this book. From the ranging emotions after your loss to coping with subsequent pregnancies to dealing with other people unaware with our situation, these stories all ring true. I highly recommend this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sally on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of books about pregnancy loss and the loss a child since my daughter died in 2008, but nothing has hit home quite like this book did. Each and every story rang true to me and I nodded along from the first page to the last. Not just a collection of heartbreaking birth stories, where in every situation, the baby is born with no signs of life, this book delves deeper and shows the darker side of the loss and what happens when you come home from hospital without your baby.
For anyone who has lost a baby to stillbirth, no matter what the gestation, birth order or how long ago it was - you will find immense comfort in this touching book.
Comes very highly recommended, though I am sorry for anyone who has reason to buy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nina Bennett on January 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I am proud to share that I am a contributor.

Janel Atlas, bereaved mother and editor, has put together a stellar collection. Stillbirth is a taboo topic in our death-fearing society. There are few resources dealing exclusively with stillbirth. The mothers, fathers, and grandmother whose essays appear in They Were Still Born honor the memory of their babies through their writing and other artistic endeavors. While the stories in this book are not easy to read, the enduring love of these families for their stillborn babies is beautiful. The writers speak the truth about the profound, lasting impact of stillbirth. They share their most intimate thoughts and feelings in order to increase awareness, and pay tribute to a member of their family who never drew a breath, yet was still born.

Seeing my essay in the midst of so many others is one of the few times I have not felt isolated in my grief. Thank you, Janel, for having the fortitude to open your wound again and again during the planning and editing of this book. And a most special thanks to the publisher for being willing to take on an issue that is neither openly nor easily discussed. The cover design is magnificent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen F. Skipper on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Excellent for personal reflections to help heal emotionally after a still born and also good references for causes, research and how to be a good advocate for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denice on January 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this as a friend of a contributor to the book, not as a mother who's experienced the loss first-hand. But while my children are living, stillbirth and miscarriage will continue to touch my life. Not only has the book given me a better understanding about a subject that is usually discussed in hushed tones, it's shown me how to display more kindness and compassion when I encounter anyone who has experienced the loss of a child. Unfortunately, I know I will meet families who have experienced these losses throughout my life. It felt like a privilege to be allowed to sit in on a meeting of a club to which no one wants to belong, but everyone knows at least one member.

I appreciated that the multiple authors' perspectives will allow readers to connect to at least one, and probably many, of the essays. I felt like I could have been friends with many of the women if I met them in real life. We should all be so lucky to have a circle of girlfriends like them from which we can draw emotional support during the bleak times everyone encounters.

If you're reeling from a miscarriage or stillbirth yourself, or if you're just trying to understand it better so you can be a support to someone who has, this book is incredibly worthwhile. It is an act of generosity that the authors have shared their stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Crystal Nelson on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Famed French feminist Helene Cixous encourages women to write "with white ink." By this she means that women need to write with and about the experiences of their bodies, their ink like the breast milk that nutures human life. "They Were Still Born" does just that, bringing to light an experience of the body that has all too long been covered over by a pall of silence. I wish I had read this book before a close friend of mine experienced a still birth at 8 months; I would have been much more adept at responding to her despair with love informed by knowledge. What makes this book brilliant is the many different voices breaking free from the silence, giving the perspectives not only of diverse kinds of mothers, but also of fathers, relatives, and medical practioners. Nevertheless, in the midst of the diversity, I was overwhelmed by a repeatedly-reported experience: the agony of grieving mothers who, after their babies die, express milk: a reminder, in white ink, of their loss. This book should be read and recommended by anyone who knows still-birth grievers, by anyone who works in obstetrics, and especially by Helen Cixous.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kitt on December 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Highly recommended for any level of reader.

The contributors to this anthology share a particular human anguish, the death of a child before birth, and the loss with that child of whole cascades of hopes, plans so vivid they had already gladdened the heart, active love for the living creature within, ideas about oneself and one's connections with others, and especially ideas about the universe, and justice, and God. This volume will provide loving company for anyone suffering the same kind of loss, and will help guide people who love new parents of stillborn children and want to provide support.

But although stillbirth is only one particular variety of human anguish, it is a universal human experience both in the sense that it has been part of the human condition forever (and remains, despite all the might of modern medicine, alarmingly common)and in that what the authors touch when they touch grief is such unutterable loss, their struggle merges into the universal human struggle, which they then try through wrenching honesty and sometimes lusciously lyrical prose to utter after all. The authors are thus helping to create a literature of stillbirth that will bring this much-hushed human woe into collective consciousness, as it should be.
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