Projects > Honored Babies
Book and Project Review of Honored Babies
by Kara L.C. Jones
a collection of women's stories: miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pregnancy termination, stillbirth, neonatal death, infant death"
Written, compiled, edited by Paula Long
From Honored Babies Press
Available at HonoredBabies.org
There is just no way I can be unbiased about this book because the story of my own son's death is in this collection. And, frankly, anything that gives me something tangible to recognize my son's life and death, well, I'm going to love it. *BUT* this book is so much more that a personal remembrance.
First, Paula Long is making history as a publisher, as a bereaved parent herself, as an ethically responsible human being who is trying to raise the level of awareness in all readers everywhere. How, you ask? Not only has she published extraordinary stories that are eye-opening to say the least, *BUT* she has also publish a book on whose cover we see, in full color, 7 total photos of the precious babies who are written about inside the book! My son's photo is on the back cover of this book. Let me tell you, I had a dilemma about having his picture on my desk at the family services office where I work part-time. These photos are the only photos I have of my precious child who was born with a full head of hair, was 6 lbs. 4oz, 19.5 inches long, fully formed and beautiful. But let's face it. My photos are of a dead child. And not many people want to deal with looking at death quite that closely.
I say that Paula Long is making history simply because she has put our babies' photos on the cover of this book. Anyone who is remotely interested, will turn this bad boy over to read more about it and Wa-La! They will be seeing the precious children we loved. I've had other publishers *offer* to print my son's photo on the inside of a book along with my articles or stories or whatever. But guess what? They always back out at the last minute. Don't think that isn't disappointing. SO, Ms. Paula Long will have my undying devotion for the rest of my g-dforsaken life because she didn't back out AND she put our kids on the cover, for goodness sake.
Okay, moving on. The stories themselves are amazing. Maybe not a book you can read all in one sitting because each story is literally stunning. You need a breather inbetween. But definitely a book you will read cover to cover because you are immediately invested in the lives of the people as you read. This is up-close and personal. This is lay-it-all-out-there honest. Oh, and, you might want to have an entire box of kleenex nearby! The stories from these women are amazing.
You will get insights here that you simply don't get every day. A woman who had two living children and had miscarried once, found herself pregnant again and was thrilled and hesitant for fear of another miscarriage. They had a scare in this pregnancy when she got sick with a fever. They took her to the hospital, but everything checked out fine. They sent her home. The next night, while sitting in her home with her sister-in-law who was holding her own recently born baby, the mother felt her child slip out into her vagina. She ran to the bathroom and reached for her child. In her hand she held the tiny body of her dead baby still attached to the cord which was still attached to the placenta which was still attached to the woman's womb!!! STANDING ALONE IN HER BATHROOM. When they finally got her to the hospital the intake nurse blurted out, "When did your abortion occur?" HELLO!!?? When exactly did an abortion take place here?? When exactly did this woman CHOOSE to make an appointment, go to a clinic and have an abortion procedure done? NEVER! In this particular woman's story, she tells you that this was just the beginning of the cruelty they have endured since the death of her child.
While the rest of the world does not think of children and childbirth as a political matter, in this great land of the US, childbirth is politicized to no end. We are cruel and inhuman to bereaved parents in this country. And we feminists don't often realize that when we marched for "choice" we seem to have marched for the choice of the woman who wants an abortion. But the same rights to care, short-term and long-term, don't seem to apply to the woman who chooses to be pregnant, to carry her child, to birth a stillborn. There are no choices for them. In this country, people are ignorantly unable to see the difference between the choice of an abortion and the choice of what happens when a WANTED child is at risk, has genetic difficulties, is stillborn, loses its neonatal battle.
My point is this: This amazing book, Honored Babies, is absolutely overwhelming in its ability to create an immediate sense of empathy for the reader. If you can read these stories and be heartless to these women -- if you read this and can still ignore the fact that these women did NOT lose a "fetus" by choice BUT instead are grieving the DEATH OF A CHILD, then you need serious therapy.
These 25 stories are remarkably helpful to bereaved parents, too. Paula Long has organized the book to indicate in the table of contents which stories pertain to stillbirth, miscarriage, etc. So it is very easy to pick and choose stories later as you feel the need to identify with a situation close to your own, or to read the story of another where you may not fully understand what it might have been like for someone in a different situation. I think that many bereaved parents have moments when the world-at-large is telling them to "get over it" or telling them that they are "crazy" because they are still dealing with "it." So I find books like this are helpful for a "reality check-in" with other bereaved parents. No matter how many times I read this one, I always find something else that is a piece of wisdom or a model for me on how to handle some difficult grief issue in my own life.
Lastly, I think this book should be mandatory reading for anyone in the medical field, in medical or nursing school, midwifery, counseling, etc. If we still have nurses in this country -- in this world -- who can actually look a bereaved mother in the face and say, "When did your abortion occur?" THEN FOLKS, WE ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG! We are not training people on sensitivity well enough. We are not offering systems of short- and long-term care that do justice to bereaved parents. We are neglecting our ethical responsibility to humanity.
Bottom Line: Wake up and smell the coffee. This is not our grandmother's generation anymore. You cannot shove bereaved parents into silence. They are talking. They are sharing the stories of what good care and bad care look like. They are finding each other. They are putting forth to all of society that ALL children matter, that parenthood doesn't end with death. This book is on the forefront of this awareness movement. Get a copy. Read it. Keep it. Use it as a tool to create change in our society!!
Kara L.C. Jones lives, works, loves, and plays on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound. She is a bereaved mommy to Dakota and a staunch advocate for revolution in the health care systems that claim to help bereaved families in the U.S. and in the world. If you have comment or question, please email her at email@example.com