Expecting With Hope: Claiming Joy When Expecting A Baby After Loss, by Teske Drake
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest book review.]
A few years ago, I gave my mother a humorous birthday card that joked about being pregnant (but of course, being a young man, I could not be). I am always reading books that are somewhat inappropriate for reasons that have nothing to do with morality but have a lot to do with not being a part of the intended audience for a book. As this book assumes that those reading it are women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant after dealing with a miscarriage, stillborn child, or a child who died far too young, it is clear that as someone who has never been an expectant parent, this is not a book that would directly apply to me. That said, I have had plenty of friends and relatives who have dealt with these matters, at least as someone who wishes to provide encouragement to those I know who have to deal with this sorrow, and so I read this book even without it having any direct personal application, typical of the books I read relating to parenthood in some fashion .
As might be expected, this book is full of biblical verses (most of them promises taken in isolated segments, occasionally in passages) that are applied as promises that would apply to Christian mothers grieving over the death of a child. Then there are commentaries, many of them just barely larger than a page in length, with others that are as many as ten pages, that tell biblical stories or personal reflections from the author or a small group of her closest confidantes who have struggled with a miscarriage or a high-risk pregnancy or the death of a child. The tone of the book is encouraging, but the material is (as might be expected) rather heartbreaking for those who have a tender heart towards little ones. The various promises are grouped into ten categories: promises of a hope and a future, fearless love, God’s presence, a sovereign refuge, provision, God’s strength, contentment in God and Christ, hope, victory, and joy. There are various appendices that include a rather typical textual version of an altar call  as well as resources for mothers and fathers who are recovering from the loss of a child or dealing with the problem of barrenness and waiting for God to bless with new life.
Although biology prevents me from a full understanding of what the author and her intended audience has dealt with, I found a lot in this book that I could personally relate to. The author draws encouragement and support from the same sorts of places I do (this is especially true of the frequent verses that are quoted from the Psalms) as a way of recognizing God’s love even through pain and suffering. Over and over again the author talks about fear and anxiety and a hard time connecting with others through the loss. Movingly, and sadly, the author comments that her first pregnancy had been an unwanted one as a single teen, leaving her with postpartum depression and a feeling of guilt when she had pregnancies end in miscarriage later on as a married adult. It is hard not to identify with the sorrows of a heart burdened by suffering and loss—for if this is a loss I do not know, I know losses and trauma well enough to mourn for those who mourn.
That does not mean that this book is perfect, though. Although the book is sound in terms of its use of biblical promises that are generally applicable (sometimes, as in the case of Hannah, the mother of Samuel , very precisely to the problem of barrenness), not all of this book’s commentary is biblically sound. Particularly troubling, if understandable, is the way that this book gives fables about dead babies becoming angels in heaven, rather than going to the ground to sleep as David’s little one did, with whom he was later gathered, awaiting resurrection. It would be nice if a book could deal honestly with the losses of life, including miscarriage and the death of infants and newborns, without feeling the need to resort to unbiblical ideas. The truth, that all who have lived, even in the womb, will be raised as part of the general resurrection, where they will have a chance to know God and to believe in Him, is comforting enough. Those who are intended to read this book need all the encouragement from the truth that can be provided.
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