The best books about miscarriage and pregnancy loss

Monica Starkman Author Of The End of Miracles: A Novel
By Monica Starkman

Who am I?

I am a psychiatrist-novelist. As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen many patients struggling with infertility and miscarriage. As a novelist, I became intrigued with the idea of having false pregnancy (pseudocyesis) be a key element in a character’s life. My primary goal was to create an engrossing good read. I also wanted to show the psychological trauma of infertility/miscarriage. Another goal was to portray psychiatric patients, the psychiatrists who treat them, and psychiatry in a realistic way. I’m so gratified by the reader reviews: “gripping”...“spell-binding”...“rich, satisfying read”...“a page-turner”...“Illuminating”.  

I wrote...

The End of Miracles: A Novel

By Monica Starkman,

Book cover of The End of Miracles: A Novel

What is my book about?

The End of Miracles is a novel that brings readers up close to a suspenseful journey, fueled by loss, across the boundaries between sanity and depression, madness and healing.

After years battling infertility, a woman’s seemingly-miraculous pregnancy brings joy. The pregnancy, however, ends tragically in a late miscarriage. Margo is devastated and emotionally shaken. Soon, though, she feels pregnant again and joy returns. But this pregnancy is false. Inevitably, her fantasy clashes with the reality of an ultrasound. Margo unravels psychologically, and her concerned husband takes her to a psychiatric unit. Fearing that the sometimes-chaotic environment there is making her worse, Margo seizes an opportunity to flee. Alone on the city streets, new fantasies propel her to impulsively commit a startling act with harrowing and dangerous consequences for herself and others.

The books I picked & why

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The Light Between Oceans

By M.L. Stedman,

Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Why this book?

One miscarriage is unsettling, and a series of them can be severely disrupting to a woman and to her marriage. So what if, unexpectedly, a baby appeared at their doorstep? The possible moral choices that must be made would be complex and powerful, and would affect many lives then and into the future.

This novel brings us into the lives of such a couple. Living on an otherwise unpopulated island, they see a rowboat washed ashore that contains a dead man and a live infant. I found compelling the moral dilemma which confronts them: try to find the infant’s mother, or keep the child. The husband is swayed by his wife’s agonizing pleas for them to keep the child as their own. But years later the husband identifies the biological mother, and a new set of choices is presented to him - and to us, the readers. 

The Snow Child

By Eowyn Ivey,

Book cover of The Snow Child

Why this book?

This is a novel of magical realism. I like the way it blends magic with descriptions of reality as it explores the deep trauma of miscarriage and stillbirth. Like The End of Miracles, The Snow Child shows how fantasy can sometimes block out what is a painful reality. Here, a bereaved couple is learning to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. They build a child out of snow. Next day, the snow child has disappeared. But then a little girl suddenly appears, a child of the woods. How will they relate to her and learn to love this wild child? The novel explores the mysteries of how hearts can be healed after a tragic loss.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

By Elizabeth McCracken,

Book cover of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Why this book?

This extraordinary book combines a lived experience with the powerful writing of an accomplished author.  Unexpectedly, in her mid-thirties, she finds a man to love and a baby is on the way. But then, the agony:  the baby dies in utero in the ninth month. She tackles head-on the deepest feelings and questions this brings. I like the way she unsparingly describes her experience and her grief, and then how she processes this and finds a way to move on. 

The Miscarriage Map: What To Expect When You Are No Longer Expecting

By Sunita Osborn,

Book cover of The Miscarriage Map: What To Expect When You Are No Longer Expecting

Why this book?

This is a book written by a psychologist who herself experienced a miscarriage that traumatized her. The author is frank and open about her own feelings and those of her husband. I like how beneficial this is: it brings a sense of normality to feelings women have that may seem frightening to them. There are also suggestions of what can help, as well as supplemental recommended readings. The book is a combination of memoir, reading companion, and advice-provider. 

Something Happened

By Cathy Blanford, Phyllis Childers (illustrator),

Book cover of Something Happened

Why this book?

Children who have known their mother was pregnant with their sibling and then had a miscarriage have psychological needs that must be met. They notice an emotional change in their parents, but don’t understand why that is. And their own hopes, or fears, about a sibling -  companion or rival - are likely still there, unanswered. The best course is to give the child the opportunity to address these feelings and fears. As a psychiatrist, I am keenly aware of the child's need for this - as well as the difficulty it may pose for the grieving parents. A sensitive and informed picture book like this one is a good tool for parents to use with young children.  

5 book lists we think you will like!

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