Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pregnancy Loss Resources: Angels in My Heart by Kathleen Olowin

Angels in My Heart: A Journey of Love and Loss by Kathleen Olowin

The second best miscarriage book I've read (the first being After Miscarriage), Angels in My Heart is divided into two distinct sections.  The first 130 pages are the author's personal story and the remaining 70 pages read like an informational resource.  The second section is divided into various topics, such as "The Journey of Grief", "Am I Going Crazy?", and "Hurtful Things Well-Meaning People Will Say".  The book is well worth reading just for this second section alone as I have found it to be the best single resource that brings together the vast array of needs a woman has after miscarriage: from the stages of grief to answers to common questions  like "How many children should I say I have?" and from ideas of how to memorialize your child to relating to others after your loss.  As a mother who experienced miscarriage herself, Olowin is very compassionate and has a deep insight into the answers women need to hear.

Of all the books I read, this is the book I would suggest for people who would like to understand the emotions and needs of a friend or family member who has experienced a loss.  The second section of the book that I already lauded is a great place to start, but the author's memoir of her losses is also exceptional.  As I read the book, I found myself wanting to highlight and share many, many passages of the book because the author perfectly described my feelings about some aspect of my own loss.  And then she would do it again about another emotion or experience on the very next page.  If someone (who had not experienced loss herself) read this book, I have no doubt that she would come away with a much better understanding of what I have been going through these last three months.  Because Olowin experienced four miscarriages, each with distinct circumstances and at various points in pregnancy, I suspect any woman who has had a miscarriage can find many parallels with Olowin's story. 

I appreciated that the author is Catholic though it is not a central part of the book.  Throughout her personal account, she mentions the Masses she had said for her babies, conversations with priests, and her faith throughout her miscarriages, but there is no Catholic theology discussed and I imagine that all Christians, and potentially many non-Christians, would feel comfortable with this book. If you are looking for more of a Catholic guide to miscarriage or a book faithful to the Magisterium, look elsewhere because, in addition to not discussing Church teaching the author also mentions that she used contraception (she does not discuss it in depth).  

Also of note, at one point in her memoir, Olowin writes that she had a 40% chance of miscarrying again after two miscarriages.  That might be what she was told at the time, but it's not accurate based on current research (the chance of miscarrying again after multiple miscarriages is much lower than that).  I only mention this because if a woman reads this shortly after a miscarriage without getting the proper facts, it may unnecessarily alarm her. 

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