When Lindsey Henke founded Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) almost three years ago, there were few resources for women who were pregnant after a pregnancy, infant, or child loss (PAL). In those three years, PALS has contributed to newfound awareness of the unique nature of the PAL experience and more resources are available. Just last month, Alexis Marie Chute’s memoir, Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss was released. Alexis Marie is a contributor here at PALS, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of her memoir. I received an advance reader copy of the book, and I’m excited to be able to share it with you all today.
Chute and her husband’s second child, Zachary, died at birth. At about 25-weeks doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat and a tumor caused by a genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis. He was born at 30-weeks and died in his mama’s arms. After nine months of extensive testing, Chute and her husband were given the all clear to try to conceive. Zachary’s condition was a fluke and was unlikely to happen again. Expecting Sunshine walks the reader through the 40 weeks of Chute’s subsequent pregnancy.
The format of the book is especially effective. Broken down into three sections, one for each trimester, each chapter is a week of Chute’s subsequent pregnancy. It opens at conception, where Chute is photographing a wedding and meets a baby boy who was approaching his first birthday. Chute realizes he would be just a few weeks younger than Zachary, a dramatic trigger. And just like that, I was sucked into the book. Alexis Marie was the person–the friend–I needed next to me along my PAL journey, validating each of my responses and emotions.
Alexis Marie Chute masterfully outlines the PAL experience, addressing each challenging milestone the PAL mama faces, including hosting a baby shower for a dear friend, deciding when to announce the pregnancy, the agonizing anticipation of testing, the torture of waiting rooms, gender expectations, and so much more. She weaves memories and flashbacks from her pregnancy with Zachary and the aftermath of his death as she faces the stages of her subsequent pregnancy. The rawness of her language and experience gives the reader a clear understanding of her anxiety, fear, and even joy and hope.
While reading, I laughed, and I cried. I nodded along often with so much of her experience resonating with my own, and I rolled my eyes at some of the more ridiculous, unhelpful things that were said to her.
Expecting Sunshine fills a hole in the conversation about loss and pregnancy after loss. If you are currently pregnant after a loss, I encourage you to buy this book now. It will validate so much of what you’re feeling and experiencing. Families who have been through a PAL will especially appreciate the candid, vulnerable account of Alexis Marie’s story. Her writing is accessible and engaging, making it the perfect book to recommend to family, friends, and health care providers who want or need a better understanding of the journey of pregnancy after loss. Thank you so much, Alexis Marie Chute, for sharing yourself and your family’s journey.
You can learn more about Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss and find out where to purchase at Expecting Sunshine.