Elizabeth Heineman
A memoir of stillbirth.

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 02-18-2014

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Ghostbelly is Elizabeth Heineman’s personal account of a home birth that goes tragically wrong—ending in a stillbirth—and the harrowing process of grief and questioning that follows. It’s also Heineman’s unexpected tale of the loss of a newborn: before burial, she brings the baby home for overnight stays.

Does this sound unsettling? Of course. We’re not supposed to hold and caress dead bodies. But then again, babies aren’t supposed to die.

In this courageous and deeply intimate memoir, Heineman examines the home-birth and maternal health-care industry, the isolation of midwives, and the scripting of her own grief. With no resolution to sadness, Heineman and her partner learn to live in a new world: a world in which they face each day with the understanding of the fragility of the present.

"[Heineman's] story reveals the depths of emotional pain associated with stillbirth and reveals that parental love has no boundaries." —Publishers Weekly

Ghostbelly is by far the most beautifully written and intimate account of something a lot of us have gone through, which is the death of an unborn child. It's an incredible and moving book, and I'm so thankful for it.” —Jane Pratt, founding editor of xoJane and Sassy

“This is a book about birth and death seen with a smart, sensitive, well-trained eye.” —Barbara Katz Rothman, author of In Labor and Laboring On

Ghostbelly illuminates the complex emotional landscape of stillbirth—putting into frank and poetic words the unspeakable experience of simultaneously grieving and mothering a baby who has died. Groundbreaking for its exploration of the unexpected benefits of reclaiming traditional rituals around birth and death, Ghostbelly brilliantly demonstrates the value in determining what holds meaning for you, and then unapologetically going for it, no matter what others might think.” —Deborah L. Davis, author of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart

"Ghostbelly contains some of the most powerful and heart-wrenching sentences about mourning the loss of a baby I have ever read." —Perry-Lynn Moffitt, author of A Silent Sorrow