Miscarriage and the Quest for the Perfect Pregnancy
Oxford University Press
Innumerable apps are available to track every moment of a pregnancy, but they all presume everything will go according to plan. In an era characterized by the belief that we can control so much about childbearing, pregnancy loss is both shocking and devastating. A poignant essay in the “Modern Love” series in the New York Times about a miscarriage in the age of the internet generated wide interest.
As Lara Freidenfelds reveals in Miscarriage and the Quest for the Perfect Pregnancy, it was not always so. In the early years of the republic, couples did not see miscarriage as a cause for great distress, unless it was part of a larger pattern of infertility. Indeed, until reliable means of contraception become widespread, miscarriage was an expected and sometimes welcome way to manage family size.
Our attitudes about families, pregnancy, and parenting have changed dramatically – mainly for the better – but they have led us to unrealistic beliefs about our ability to control pregnancy. We saddle women and men with the impossible goal of a perfect pregnancy. In her new book, Lara Freidenfelds draws on her own experience as a parent and her training as a historian, and offers a long look at how our expectations and experiences of pregnancy came to be. In so doing, she introduces a more reassuring and flexible perspective, one that allows for resilience and for acceptance of the inevitable turns of fate and our own very human imperfections.