Monday, February 16, 2009

An Exact Replica Of A Figment Of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

In An Exact Replica Of A Figment Of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken tells the heartbreaking story of the stillbirth of her son. McCracken never expected to have children, but fell in love in her mid-thirties, and was pregnant at 39. She and her husband were living in France when something went wrong with her pregnancy. In a horrific scene, the doctors confirmed to her that her baby had died. She then went through delivery and saw her perfect son, who unexplainably would not be coming home with them.

The book follows McCracken and her husband's journey through the year after the death. She goes through all the stages of grief, and wonders if she is a mother if her baby isn't there for others to see. Some days start to seem better, only to have the rollercoaster of grief crush her again the next. The lifelines she grabbed for were the love and support of her family and friends. She got pregnant again three months after the stillbirth, and gave birth a year later to a healthy baby boy.

This book was absolutely accurate. I went through the same thing years ago, and had almost the same story. The pregnancy was uneventful, and then one day, my daughter didn't seem to be moving as much, and then there was the doctor visit and the news that no pregnant woman expects to hear. I lived with that news for almost a week before my body was ready to deliver, and like Elizabeth, my baby was perfect. The grief was like nothing I had ever encountered. The guilt is overwhelming. Having to talk to strangers about how many children you have, or what did you have or how does your son like his baby sister were unimaginably hard. Emotions that vary greatly from day to day and second-guessing are inevitable. Finally, with time, the raw grief subsides, but the family is never the same again. Like Elizabeth, I was able later to have another baby, although it took five years for me, and was a surprise pregnancy.

This book is recommended for anyone facing this situation, or for anyone with family or friends going through this disaster. I couldn't put the book down; it felt so real and so close to my experience.


Bookfool said...

That must have been an awfully difficult book for you to read after your own heartbreak. I go so far out of my way to avoid reading books with a cancer theme that I think it's pretty amazing that you stuck it out. Hugs to you, Sandie.

Sandie said...

Thanks, Nancy. It was hard but on the other side so validating to read someone else's story that was so close to mine. I've repressed a lot of that time, so this was helpful. It was definately the worst time of our lives.