I’m the type of person who does a lot of reading when facing a crisis. For me, knowledge is powerful and lets me feel some sense of control over my life. So in facing both fertility challenges and pregnancy loss and even pregnancy itself, I did a lot of book-shopping and googling. I’ll add to this list as the weeks and months go on, but for those of you who are like me and just crave information, here are a few of my favorites (so far) that you may want to check out:
Making Babies: a Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility, by Sami S. David, M.D. and Jill Blakeway, LAC.
This book promotes a unique way to improve your fertility that I have never heard of or seen anywhere else. In order to determine your fertility type, you are asked a series of questions and then, based on your answers, you are categorized into one of five types and given a three-month plan to follow in order to give you the best fertility odds. While not opposed to modern medicine, the authors of this book “prescribe” mostly natural remedies, including eating certain foods and visualization exercises. Written by a reproductive endocrinologist (the first one to perform a successful IVF in New York state) and a licensed acupuncturist, I feel the authors are fairly credible, but I’m unsure of how effective the fertility plans actually are. I cannot attest to whether the 3-month plan works or not because I have never used them. I got pregnant both times before I even tried the plan because, for me, these plans aere a “last resort.” They’re pretty strict and require a fair amount of self-deprivation and -discipline and that’s hard to do when you can’t even be sure whether it works or not. However, I learned a LOT from their discussions about CM, temp charting, and vitamins, as well as certain things I can do to combat side effects of Clomid (like Mucinex), and more. AND if you’re feeling desperate, then I think it’s totally worth giving one of the plans provided a shot because, in the end, if you get a baby out of it — well, then the sacrifice is worth it, isn’t it?
Making a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Get Pregnant, by Debra Fulghum Bruce and Samuel Thatcher, M.C., Ph.D.
I’ve read enough books about infertility that I feel like I know pretty much all there is to know. Unless I’m meeting with a doctor to discuss my personal medical history, there’s not much more anyone can tell me about what it takes to make a baby. That being said, I actually learned a few things from this book! There’s a good section on PCOS and plenty of other details that few other authors address. It’s worth a look.
“For Women Struggling with Fertility or Loss,” by Yvette Lamb (http://www.scarymommy.com/for-women-struggling-with-fertility-or-loss/?section=the-infertility-struggle&u=unknown)
This is a great piece, written to the woman who is dealing with the sorrow of infertility. It speaks honestly about what it feels like to be go through this and offers the encouragement and hope that only another infertile can.
Avoiding Miscarriage: Everything You Need to Know to Feel More Confident in Pregnancy, by Susan Rousselot
Written by a mother of two who suffered several losses before finally achieving a healthy pregnancy, this book is a little more geared toward those who have had recurrent miscarriages. However, I think it’s still worth a read, even if you’ve only suffered one loss as I have. It provides a chart that can guide you in determining what may have possibly led to previous miscarriages and can also help you determine your risk for another miscarriage, and why. It provides fairly detailed information on every possible cause of miscarriage, which I found supremely informative and helpful. I hope I’ll never need to use this information, but I’m glad that I have it in case the worst happens again.
Empty Arms, by Pam Vredevelt
This one is told from a Christian perspective and is written by a pastor’s wife (I think) who lost her first child in pregnancy. She talks about her experience with that and addresses all the emotional aspects of a loss, from anger, to guilt, to a husband’s grief, and more. She also attempts to answer questions like “Why did God kill my baby?” and I especially appreciated the Bible verses she provides that validate my child’s life, even if he only lived inside of me for a mere five weeks. I don’t necessarily agree with, or even like, everything the author says, but it has helped me to see things in a new and very different way.
Grieving the Child I Never Knew, by Kathe Wunnenberg
This is a Christian-based devotional with 31 (a month’s worth of) devotions that encourage the reader to turn to God and deal with their grief in this time of loss. Each devotion has a Bible quote and prayer to go with it and there are questions to answer and room for journaling. There’s also a special guide for which devotion to read and prayers to say in significant times, like Mother’s Day, the anniversary of your baby’s death, and your due date. I found it a little patronizing and written in a very amateurish way, but it still gave me a lot to think about and I could relate to so much of what was said. The woman who wrote it lost four babies, in separate pregnancies, so she does certainly understand the pain associated with it.
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss, by Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D.
This book is to help parents who have lost a pregnancy/baby determine if they’re ready to try again and how to prepare for a subsequent pregnancy. It addresses both the emotional and physical aspects of this and while a lot of the information was nothing new to me, it was helpful to have a guide that speaks to parents who are not blissfully ignorant about all that can go wrong in a pregnancy. It is straight-forward, honest, and provides the stories (some of them horribly sad) of others who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.
Pregnancy After a Loss, by Carol Cirulli Lanham
This could very well belong in the PREGNANCY section below, but since it’s geared towards those who have suffered a loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal), I wanted to list it here. It’s written by a woman who lost her baby around her due date because of a cord accident and features her story, along with many others who went on to have a successful pregnancy after the loss of a baby. It addresses how one might feel through each stage of a subsequent pregnancy and deals mostly with the emotional (rather than the physical) aspects of this. The discussions are brief and gloss over a lot of things, but it is filled with encouragement and hope. However, I do think it’s probably more appropriate for someone who lost a baby later in pregnancy rather than as an early miscarriage.
“Ghostly Grief: On Miscarriage and Loss,” by Micha Boyett (http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/11/19/ghostly-grief-on-miscarriage-and-loss/35100?utm_content=buffer8fcef&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer)
A painfully honest, poignant portrayal of what it’s like to go through a miscarriage…and the hope for another chance that always endures.
“You Have the Right to Grieve Your Miscarriage,” by Amy Ransom (http://www.scarymommy.com/you-have-the-right-to-grieve-your-miscarriage/?section=surviving-miscarriage&u=8ygTuIZ6Ym)
A great piece about the importance of acknowledging, and grieving, the loss of a pregnancy, no matter how early it occurs.
PREGNANCY & PARENTING
Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds, by Cynthia Gabriel
This is, by far, the best book I read in preparing to have the natural birth I wanted. I studied it like the Bible in the weeks leading up to my due date. (And by study, I mean that I really did! I had note cards I reviewed multiple times each day and everything.) It covers almost every topic that you could possibly think of and helped me to feel really prepared as I went forward. It has some great, great ideas for coping! The only thing I didn’t love was the author’s advocacy to “get attached to your birth plan.” I believe in knowing and fighting for what you want, but I think you need to have some willingness to be flexible too. It’s a great book, though! My favorite. 🙂
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer
This is perhaps my second favorite book. It was recommended to me by my doula-friend, Leigh, and I learned so much from it. It really does an in-depth discussion of every hospital/OB labor & delivery practice (from c-sections to inductions to IVs to epidurals and more) and helped me to be more informed about both the pros and cons as I made my decisions. Great read!
Easy Labor Pain, by Adrienne B. Lieberman
I loved this book! It had so many thoughtful ideas on laboring and the pain involved that really helped to prepare me mentally for the endeavor I was about to embark on. It also had some practical, useful methods for getting through the labor pains in order to achieve the birth you hope for.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
This book is written by a midwife and has a lot of informative information about the birthing process. I learned a lot! It has a lot of personal stories of women, which you have to take as anecdotal evidence and not proof that it would work for nearly every woman, but it was definitely an interesting read in preparing to have a natural birth.
Babyproofing Your Marriage, by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone
Our pastor gave this to us, but it is in no way Christian-based. There’s foul language, sex, and all in this book as both men and women discuss marriage and spouses and the adjustments and changes that must be made in order for a marriage to survive post-baby. It’s very, very funny to read and I found it completely validating to know we weren’t the only couple to suffer growing pains. It can also help you to see things from your spouse’s perspective, which can help any marriage, I think.
Baby 411, by Denise Fields and Ari Brown, M.D.
This addresses everything a new parent may need to know in that first year. Especially helpful to me was “how to beat yeast” when dealing with thrush and breastfeeding, their guide to breastfeeding month-by-month, learning about sleep requirements in the first two years, and their discussions on discipline, what toys/books to buy, and illnesses.
“What Life With Three Kids Is Really Like,” by Wendy Bradford (http://thestir.cafemom.com/being_a_mom/185486/what_life_with_three_kids?utm_medium=sm&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=natural_fanpage&newsletter&dmpg=f)
This is said so perfectly well. Having more than one kid is hard, and its beautiful. You love every one of your children equally, but differently. And there’s always room for more love…but time and attention have to be divided and that is never equal (paraphrasing here). So completely true.
“An Apology to My Firstborn Child,” by Sarah Stewart Holland (http://www.scarymommy.com/an-apology-to-my-firstborn-child/?section=scary-mommy-blog&u=unknown)
Ahhh…that first child. There is something so special and so magical about the firstborn. But they also must suffer through our new parent-ness….all the things we do as new parents that we eventually learn are ridiculous or pointless. So sorry, precious Firstie. Forgive us?
Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelsen
This is a great resource for those parents (specifically for those with children 4 years and older) who are looking for an alternative to normal parenting practices like timeouts and other punishments. For me, those type of “tools” have never felt right. Putting my child in a corner while they cry? Nope, not for me. It may work for some parents (and that’s okay!! I’m not here to judge or lecture), but I’m not one of them. I am a believer in the New Agey “gentle parenting,” and this is the perfect book for others like me. I need to set boundaries. I need my children to follow the rules and listen and be responsible. But I don’t want to force them by hurting their bodies, their hearts, or our relationship. The emphasis of positive discipline is “firmness” and “kindness,” and those two in combination guide me in my parenting. I fail on a daily basis — I still sometimes yell, threaten, and lose my patience — but remembering the rules of this parenting theory helps me get back on track.
This is another great parenting resource, aimed specifically at parents of young children (I’d say under the age of five). Janet Lansbury is a believer in the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) theory of parenting, which advocates for parents and caregivers to treat infants with the same respect that they treat everyone else. Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many ways we as a society DON’T do that on a very regular basis. This blog has so many articles about every aspect of parenting the young child. It’s really thought-provoking! And while I don’t necessarily agree with everything that is said here, I try to put into practice as much of it as possible. It’s definitely worth a read.