After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth, visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her “Year of Distraction.” She cannot paint or write or tap into the heart of who she used to be, mourning not only for Zachary, but also for the future they might have had together. It is only when Chute learns she is pregnant again that she sets out to find healing and rediscover her identity―just in time, she hopes, to welcome her next child.
In the forty weeks of her pregnancy, Chute grapples with her strained marriage, shaken faith, and medical diagnosis, with profound results. Glowing with riveting and gorgeous prose, Expecting Sunshine chronicles the anticipation and anxiety of expecting a baby while still grieving for the child that came before―enveloping readers with insightful observations on grief and healing, life and death, and the incredible power of a mother’s love.
“Exquisitely detailed and achingly honest. A must-read.”
―Ariel Brewster, senior editor, Today’s Parent Magazine
“Just as important for those who can’t relate as for those who can.”
―This Mom Loves, blogger Kate Winn
“A moving saga of motherhood in extremis that earns its moments of certainty and bliss through an honest grappling with pain and doubt.”
Verdict: EXPECTING SUNSHINE is an invaluable resource for those dealing with loss, as well as a beautifully-told story of grief, hope, healing and love.
5.0 STAR RATING
Alexis Marie Chute and her husband Aaron lost their second child, their son Zachary, minutes after his birth due to a heart condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. For a year, Chute descended into what she calls her “Year of Distraction,” in which she was unable to function or focus for grief. On emerging from that year of mourning, she became pregnant once more, hoping desperately this time for a healthy baby. This book is a narrative of that pregnancy, full of anxiety, anticipation, fear, healing, and hope.
There are few if any losses in life that match the heartbreak of losing a child, and this book is an achingly beautiful response to such a loss. This is a straightforward, honest, day-by-day first-person account, all the more effective for being simply and clearly told, without melodrama but with an lovely, lyrical, almost poetic writing style. Chute holds nothing back, from her anger at God to marital stresses to her panicked anxiety at the thought of possibly losing either this new pregnancy or her oldest child, her cherished daughter Hannah. However, there are moments of brilliant sunshine that illuminate the book as well, as when she hears her new baby’s heartbeat for the first time, singing a refrain of “I am alive, I am well, I am here.”
Bring a handkerchief either way – tears of sorrow and tears of joy are intertwined throughout the book. The honesty and the clarity of the writing make this an invaluable resource not only for those who have lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early death, but also to their friends and family, who may be unsure of what to say or how to approach their loved one’s grief. Chute openly and directly discusses what helped her and what did not – the gentleness, openness, and warmth of her devout Aunt Ruth’s approach to her doubts about religion and faith versus the overbearing dogmatism of some members of her Mourning Together group, for example. The result is a book that is useful as well as deeply heartwarming.
EXPECTING SUNSHINE is an invaluable resource for those dealing with loss, as well as a beautifully-told story of grief, hope, healing and love.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader