"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barren Bitches Book Brigade: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Welcome to the sixteenth tour of the Barren Bitches Book Brigade--a book club from the comfort of your own living room. Today we are discussing An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken Grab a cup of coffee and, when you are done reading my review, you can hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book in this online book club: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

My feelings about this book are quite complicate. While I have never gone through a stillbirth/late term loss, I have lost many pregnancies myself and have been through a stillbirth with a dear friend. McCracken is an extremely talented writer and it makes this book about a tough subject quite easy to read. She also explains the complexities of the feelings that surround a loss in a way that anyone can understand. She also manages to inject a fair amount of humor into a generally humorless subject. I actually found myself chuckling quite a number of times. Despite all this, I found the book very difficult to read. When I read and enjoy a book, I generally read it very quickly. However, at one point, I actually set this book aside and avoided it for a few days. The emotions at play in the book hit that close to home for me. I guess that in itself is a tribute to McCracken's talent as a writer. All in all, this is a beautifully written tribute and I would recommend it to anyone.

Now...to the questions...
The author expresses gratitude that she was able to easily conceive and deliver a healthy child after Pudding's death. Even Pudding's story, while distinct in its own right, is told through the lens of a grateful mother holding her happy sleeping baby in her lap. "I am not sure what sort of person I would be if that hadn't happened," she says. While it is impossible to hypothesize what might have been had some other course of events transpired, how has having other living child/ren either before or since your loss affected your grieving process? If you have not lost a child, how has your in/fertility affected how you view other people's losses? And do your views change if the grieving have other living children?
While it is impossible to compare one person's loss with another person's loss, I know without a doubt that having children did affect my grieving process. I know that having children made the loss more poignant. I knew what I was losing. I knew what it was like to cuddle that beautiful baby and to kiss their sleeping cheek and say I love you. It truly hurt my heart to know that I would never get to do that with my babies that I lost. However, having my two older boys forced me to deal with life when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and hide from the world. Kids have these funny notions that they need to eat ans sleep and bathe on a regular basis. Dealing with their needs forced me to live my life which helped me to get past my losses.

My favourite line of the book comes on page 103: "Closure is bullshit." In your opinion (whether or not you have experienced pregnancy loss yourself), is this true or false?
I think this is absolutely true. When most people think of closure, they think of something being over and done with. You can put it behind you and never look back. With something as life changing as a loss of a love one, you never have closure in that sense. Loss affects you at a fundamental level. There will always be something or someone missing. You can learn to deal with losses or traumatic events. You can learn to move past them. But who you are as a person is forever changed so it will never be behind you. It will never be gone. Closure is BULLSHIT.

McCracken states that her only regret regarding Pudding, was that she didn't hold him. Would you hold your baby in the same situation?
I absolutely would have held my baby in the same situation. If I didn't I know I would forever wonder about how that baby would have felt in my arms. Holding that lost baby would give me a chance to say good bye.

If you had experienced a late term loss, would you have wanted to know
the sex of the baby during any future pregnancy? Why or why not
My friend Chris lost her third son at 36 weeks of pregnancy. She had an abruption in the middle of her placenta and Adam's blood supply was compromised causing his death. Out of all her pregnancies, this was the only pregnancy that she found out the sex of her baby. She told me after they lost Adam that she was so glad she knew it was a boy before hand because she felt more connected to him...more like she got to know him. She said that while it didn't make up for the loss, that she did feel like she had some time with him because she knew his sex and knew his name ahead of time. Because of this, I wll always try to find out the sex of a baby during a pregnancy.

5 comments:

Karen said...

Hey! I'm up in the middle of the night and get to be the first to comment on your stop on the tour :) I had the same reaction you did and had to put the book down a few times and allow it to sink in for awhile. Many of the pages/chapters were so packed with powerful ideas and they deserved more than a quick read-through.

I appreciated reading your thoughts about how having living children has affected your grieving process. I have to admit that in the past I've been guilty of thinking that IF and loss are easier for women who are already moms, and even though reading ALI blogs changed my mind about that awhile back, your words brought it home again for me.

loribeth said...

Thanks for some great insights. One of my friends IRL who had two children & then lost three babies has said much the same thing you did -- she still had to get out of bed in the morning & take care of her kids, even though she was often just going through the motions. She eventually decided not to try any more for another child, in part because she felt she wasn't being there for them in the way she wanted to be.

Rachel said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog while on the tour.

I appreciate your words about your loss. If I lost a pregnancy now, it would feel much different than before my son, because like you said, I would know exactly what I was missing. Before I only imagined what I was missing.

Cassandra said...

Interesting that you set the book aside for a few days -- I couldn't put it down.

Another Dreamer said...

I know I'm a bit late for this... but I found your responses quite insightful.

"My feelings about this book are quite complicate." I can totally feel this one. I think I know what you mean with how it affected you. When you're so close to a subject it really hits you even harder than it would if you had some distance, I think.

Interesting view on how you had your children and knew even more poignantly who you were missing. I've actually wondered if I am going to go through a whole new stage of mourning when/if I become a mother.

Thank you for sharing.