Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day but the entire month of October is devoted to Infant Loss Remembrance.  James and I feel very blessed and grateful to be the parents of five young adult sons (ages 17-29). I also think about the seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Five Little Souls in Heaven    (This article was written 21 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

One of the themes of my first novel, Emily’s Hope, is pregnancy loss.

This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held onto Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart
beating fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

(End of excerpt.)

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach  (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach  (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach  (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

 

Promotion…or the Strangest Place I’ve Ever Sold A Book

Picture 126Since a self-published author doesn’t have a publisher to help with promotion, it’s important to take every opportunity to promote oneself. Keep copies of your books in your car, always have business cards or bookmarks in your purse or wallet and…don’t be afraid to talk about your books.

I’ve sold books to the insurance man, the animal control officer, at family functions and churches. I’ve sold books to people on the beach and at the grocery story.

But, by far, the strangest place I’ve ever sold one of my books was at a local club/bar.

Now, I never go to bars or clubs, but on this particular night, my husband was performing with his jazz fusion band. During one song, he actually plays two different guitars. My husband is a very talented guitarist (see video).

That night, as I watched my husband perform, I noticed a tall fellow swaying to the music and staring at my husband. When the song finished, the band took a break. The tall man ran off in the direction of the stage. I followed close behind. The tall man spoke to my husband with the adulation of an adoring fan.

“Man, you’re the best guitarist I’ve ever seen! The way you play those two guitars…it’s just incredible! You’re better than Mick Jagger,” and he went on to list three or four other famous guitarists.

Now, my husband has enough humility for both of us. So he didn’t respond to the praise. Instead he looked my way and said, “This is my wife, Ellie.” My husband’s newest fan turned to me.“Your husband is the most incredibly talented guitarist I’ve ever seen or heard.”

“Isn’t he amazing?” was my response.

“He sure is.” We chatted for a few moments, then, out of the blue he said, “He’s so good, you should write a book about him.”

I burst out laughing. “Well, actually, I have written a book. It’s a novel called Emily’s Hope and it is loosely based on my life…and my husband is a major character in the book.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Do you have any copies with you?” (Self-published authors should always be prepared.) So I responded, “Of course.”

Admittedly, this 40-year-old tipsy man probably was not the target audience for my first novel. And…my husband felt I took advantage of a fellow who was drinking, and perhaps I did. But, well…a sale is a sale.

Humor aside, I’ve often wondered about this fellow who walked into the bar to have a good time and walked out with my novel in his hands. I hope he’s doing well.

(Re-edited) Copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Emily's HopeToday is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I have had four miscarriages and three ectopic pregnancies. My novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized true stories of myself and my great-grandmother, and the story of loss and triumph. This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held on to Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart
beating so fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Great Summer Reads

Let’s talk summer! There’s nothing I like better than to sit under a tree on a warm summer’s day and read a story that will sweep me away. Full Quiver Publishing books make ideal summer reads!!

1. The Lion’s Heart
The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt is currently available on Kindle and in softcover. With the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the US that legalizes same sex marriage, this book is even more relevant and encompasses the Catholic Church’s teachings on this topic. Of The Lion’s Heart, Joseph Pearce, well-known Catholic author, says, “Dena Hunt is a consummate storyteller who does not shirk or shy away from the difficult questions about life and love that her story raises. The Lion’s Heart contains not only the loves of lovers, spouses, parents, and children but also the demons and dragons that selfishness unleashes. The Lion’s Heart is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for the hard-hearted. It pulsates with a passion that will bring true hearts to their knees.”
Front Cover Final revisedsm

2. In Name Only (O’Donovan Family)
In Name Only is the first in the O’Donovan Family series (although both this and its sequel can be read independently of the other). It has been downloaded over 160,000 times on Kindle and won the Gold medal in Religious Fiction at the 2010 IPPY Awards. Check out the novel website and the profile page on Amazon.In name only much smaller

3. A Subtle Grace (O’Donovan Family)
A Subtle Grace is my newest book and is available both on Kindle and in paperback. In her review, Trisha Niermeyer Potter, blogger at Prints of Grace, says this:
“This is one of my favorite contemporary works of Catholic fiction. The storytelling is masterful, the characters fascinating, and the writing is of high literary quality. People are imperfect—past, present, and future—but each is given the opportunity to grow, change, learn, and be redeemed. In this story it’s shown how the greatest mistake of our lives can be turned into one of the most amazing blessings and even be a source of hope for others. Life’s messy. People are complex. We’ve all got some skeletons in our closets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also fit some trophies and triumphs in there as well. A Subtle Grace has all of the elements that good Catholic fiction should.”A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013

4. Stealing Jenny
This is my biggest seller and most popular book as evidenced by the over 530 reviews on Amazon (and the six months it spent as a #1 bestseller on Kindle with over 280,000 downloads). It’s a quick and easy read. Check out the novel website here and the Amazon profile page here. Stealing Jenny

5. Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp
Funny, quirky and great writing! Also referred to as a Theology of the Body mystery! Check out the novel website here and the Amazon page here. Don't You Forget About Me FTcasefrontcover

6. Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon
A beautiful Theology of the Body romance with over 200 reviews on Amazon! AS Front Cover Final9-19

7. A World Such as Heaven Intended
A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer is an ideal beach read! It is available on Kindle and in print.AWSAHI Final Cover

8. Emily’s Hope
My first book is based on the true stories of myself and my great-grandmother. Check out the novel website here to read an excerpt and reviews.Emily's Hope

There are two other non-fiction FQP books: Growing Up in God’s Image: A New Approach to the Facts of Life Talk and Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.

NFP Week: Theology of the Body Fiction

Full Quiver logoOne of my favorite ways to promote the Theology of the Body is to recommend novels with a great TOB message. My publishing company publishes novels with Theology of the Body themes.

Want to learn more about the Theology of the Body? Interested in promoting it? Read and recommend one of these books! This list is not all-inclusive:

Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable)Emily's Hope

In Name Only (O’Donovan Family Book 1) (Ellen Gable)In name only much smaller

Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable)Stealing Jenny

Passport (Christopher Blunt)passport

Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon)AS Front Cover Final9-19

Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp)Don't You Forget About Me FTcasefrontcover

A Subtle Grace (O’Donovan Family Book 2)(Ellen Gable) A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013

The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt)Front Cover Final revisedsm

Do you have any favorite TOB novels to add? Please feel free to comment below!

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Contest, NFP Awareness Week, Photo Shoot Etc.

7_quick_takes_sm1Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary where we share seven quick takes!

1. NFP Awareness Week
Next week is NFP Awareness Week! For more more information on Natural Family Planning (NFP), check out the Couple to Couple League’s site here. NFP Awareness Week

2. Sue Elvis’ New Book!
Please join me in congratulating my friend, Sue, from Australia, who has published a children’s book, The Angels of Abbey Creek! It’s not yet available here in the USA but it will be soon! Check out Sue’s blog for more information. Sue Elvis

3. Compelling Summer Read – Unholy Bonds
Unholy Bonds by Leslie Lynch follows newlyweds Lannis and Ben (From Lynch’s first novel, Hijacked) as they seek justice for Lannis. However, the story takes several interesting and surprising turns. The author creates a chilling villain, but this book is an excellent illustration that each person always has the choice to change. Unholy Bonds allows us to see into the mind of a unfeeling rapist, but Lynch also shows us that forgiveness can be a road to recovery, not only with the victim, but with the perpetrator as well. Highly recommend!UnholyBonds

4. Emily’s Hope – FREE BOOK – ENTER NOW
In honor of NFP Week, I’m giving away one free Kindle copy and one free print copy of my first book, Emily’s Hope, a Theology of the Body-themed novel based on parallel true stories. Leave a comment below before Thursday, July 24th, to be entered to win!!Emily's Hope

5. Photo Shoot at Madonna House
My husband and I recently visited one of my favorite places for a photo shoot. More about the reasons for the photo shoot in a future post!

copyright James Hrkach

copyright James Hrkach

6. Madonna House Sign
I’ve always thought this was a cool sign!

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

7. My Last Period (NFP Cartoon)

Copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Infant Loss Excerpt

Emily's HopeToday is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.

I have had four miscarriages and three ectopic pregnancies. My novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized true stories of myself and my great-grandmother, and the story of loss and triumph. This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held on to Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart
beating so fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach