Long Island Press©
HONORING L.I.'S WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT
Featured This Week; Amy Abbey
Beverly Fortune 06/22/2006 3:02 pm
A few months ago I received an e-mail from Eric Abbey of Oceanside,
nominating his wife, Amy, to be a "Fortune 52" honoree.
After I read his letter, I felt that I couldn't write about Amy. Her
story was too close to me emotionally. I did, however, come to
realize I needed to meet with her, and since then, every week as
I've written about someone else, her story has always been in the
back of my mind. So, Amy's story is overdue.
Amy was five months pregnant with her first
child when she went into early labor. Her baby, a boy they named
Solomon, was stillborn. The ensuing grief, coupled with the
reactions from her friends, family and even her husband, spiraled
Amy into a world where no woman wants to go. Unfortunately, I can
completely empathize with Amy.
I lost my first child, a little girl named
Allison Mary, who was born at full term. Allison died three hours
later... or did she live for three hours? It's the ensuing physical
and emotional turmoil that women who have lost their first babies
must deal with. There are so many questions. Am I a mother or was I a mother? Am I a bad person? Did I do something wrong?
Why did this happen to me? Will I ever be able to have another
child? Every woman copes with this kind of loss differently. My
husband and I chose to go to genetic counseling and have another
baby as soon as possible. We were very lucky and were blessed with a
beautiful, healthy daughter, Jaclyn, 14 months later. Amy, however,
wasn't as lucky. She suffered another loss after Solomon died, an
inconceivably painful double blow, one that reaches the limits of
grief a woman can experience. Then, on her third try, Amy was
blessed with a beautiful baby girl they also named Alison.
I went about my life raising Jackie and her
brother, Joseph, who was born 20 months later. I chose to keep the
memory of Allison in a special place, where she is a beautiful angel
who is with me all the time. It has worked for me.
Amy chose a different path. She chose to
confront her heartache after months of depression and suffering.
Tired of hearing, "You can have another baby," or,
"When you get pregnant again, you'll forget all about
this," Amy started writing a journal when she came home from
the hospital without Solomon. After her second loss, she started an
outline for a book. As past president of the Greater New York
Society for Public Health Education, Amy was no stranger to the ins
and outs of the health field. She began reaching out to other women
who had lost babies, gathering their stories, which culminated in
her newly published book, Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After
Loss. It took Amy two years to complete the book, and though
each woman's story is different, all share the same heart-stopping
grief in the loss of their babies and their subsequent successful
In addition to being a published author, Amy is
now the proud mother of three healthy children, Alison, Adam and
stepson Alex. She has created a beautiful life for her family, and
is now the Conference Promotion Chair for Aspiring Community and
Public Health Leaders at Kingsborough Community College to be held
this July, a member of the Nassau Suffolk region Ryan White CARE Act
HIV/AIDS Network Steering Committee, and was just elected
co-president of the Oceanside School District Kindergarten Center
For her book, Amy chose a quote from author
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow : "I'm standing on a
foundation and have no farther to fall." And, while it may feel
like you cannot get lower, life gets better. I am proof. So is Amy,
and countless other women.
If you know a super woman who deserves good Fortune—and a
profile—e-mail your nominations to Beverly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TALE OF THREE PREGNANCIES
Abbey was born Aug. 14, 2001, her mother, Amy, was reborn after 16
months of a self-described "nightmare."
mom compiles stories for book on life after loss
by Joe Kellard 03/30/2006
Alison represented Amy
and Eric Abbey's third try to have a child together, after the first
pregnancy ended in a stillbirth and the second a miscarriage. Amy
relays those hellish months in a new book of anecdotes she complied
entitled "Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss." The
book reads like 11 different journals of individuals retelling their
experiences losing their expected child. They include stories of
first-trimester miscarriage, second-trimester delivery and full-term
stillbirths, and each story contains a segment on getting through
the next pregnancy.
After Solomon was born still at five months, Amy suffered both
physically and psychologically, and her tale offers insights into an
array of emotions, from anxieties to depression she either battled
or succumbed to after her losses and through her third pregnancy.
She reveals having feelings of failure at womanhood, letting down
her stepson, Alex, after he anticipated being a big brother, and
being convinced that her third pregnancy would also end tragically.
"I started to wonder what I'd done to deserve all this,"
Amy writes after noting that her miscarriage was due to a blighted
While Amy also reveals in her chapter, called "Solomon's
Flower," a fleeting flirtation with a thought of suicide, the
ultimate in underscoring her depressive state, she also includes
positive steps she took to cope better. "Even though my child
hadn't lived, I still had given birth," Amy writes.
when carrying Alison, superstitious anxieties got the best of Amy.
"I was bursting out of Eric's XL shirts that I wore longer than
I should have because I was convinced if I did anything different,
like ware maternity clothes, I would lose the baby," she
writes. In the weeks before her due date hit, right up to delivery
time, Amy became increasingly convinced she'd lose the baby.
Providing the only husband's perspective, Eric Abbey contributes his
own story to Amy's book. His chapter, "The Decision,"
centers around a particular life-changing choice, and how he is
sometimes reminded of this in the subtlest of ways.
"For the rest of our lives I will have the guilt of convincing
Amy to not hold the twenty week fetus," Eric wrote. "I
thought I would be sick at the sight of it. I looked for second and
third opinions that day. Had I made the right decision? ... I get
often from Amy that tone in her voice telling me I let her down by
Eric tells how pregnancy loss can be different for the man, and that
while he took it hard, he had personally suffered the deaths of
loved ones earlier in life and thus seemed better able to cope.
"Where did my wife go?," Eric asks about Amy¹s fragile
emotional state. "I understood, after the loss, that she would
grieve eighteen months, and that would have been OK but after we got
pregnant again it was the worrying that went on. The daily 'what
if?' Well, this time it worked out better and Alison was born."
Another distinct part of Eric's tale is that he recounts the birth
of their last child, Adam, and how this was different. "The
biggest reason is Amy didn't have time to worry as much because she
was taking care of Alison," he writes.
And what is distinct about "Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy
After Loss" from the many pregnancy loss books available?
"My books is set apart because it is only a collection of
stories by parents and about what happened when we lost our child
and the steps we took all the way through to having a child,"
said Amy, a health educator and past president of the Greater New
York Society for Health Education. "Whereas the other books are
more professionally based, and have a lot of information,
speculation, and education with just brief anecdotal paragraphs or
verbatim quotes from parents."
Among the steps the Abbeys took to heal was to join a support group.
And through grief counselors Amy knows, she was able to find the
nine other authors who contribute their stories to her book. The
concluding chapter, for example, features a parent who lost her
13-months-old daughter to a fetal genetic illness, and how she went
to genetic counseling to see if her newest baby may have the same
Amy's book does offer something on the clinical side. A social
worker offers a summary chapter that advises women not to suppress
their grief and not to turn away from their partner.
"I wanted to write this book to help other moms in my
position," Amy said. "... Like any other book out there,
my book won't replace anyone¹s individual counseling. I just felt
that, if there are a 100 things to help me with my coping, I needed
one more. So hopefully this is just another piece of somebody elses
Comments about this story? JKellard@liherald.com
or (516) 569-4000 ext. 287.