"What an amazing story. . . . I applaud you for staying honest with yourself and listening to your feelings and what you needed to do to love and grieve and remember your son."--comment on Elizabeth Heineman's "Salon" article, "My Stillborn Child's Life after Death"
In our mother-blaming culture, women who make unconventional choices find themselves under fire. And Elizabeth Heineman makes unusual choices. She has a baby at an advanced maternal age, chooses home birth with a midwife--and then, when her baby is born dead, she spends time with him. In "Ghostbelly," Heineman's brave, disarming, and stunning memoir, she recounts her indescribable grief after delivering a stillborn son, her extraordinary and intimate bonding with the baby's body before the burial, and the impossible task of saying goodbye.
In 2008 Elizabeth McCracken's memoir broke the silence surrounding stillbirth, which account for one in 160 pregnancies in the United States. Now "Ghostbelly" provides this necessary tale of motherhood-- the need to invent our own rituals of grieving, and the unexpected space we occupy when birth and death coincide.
Elizabeth Heineman is a professor of history and gender, women's, and sexuality studies at the University of Iowa. Her published works include "Before Porn Was Legal," "Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones," and "What Difference Does a Husband Make?" She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.