I just finished your beautiful book “Expecting Sunshine” and felt compelled to reach out and say thank you.

A few days after I found out I miscarried, a few days before my D&C, I went to Barnes & Noble in hopes of finding a guidebook or self-help book of how to heal and cope with miscarriage or loss of a child. I searched every feasible location: self-help, psychology, family planning, childcare. With tears in my eyes I was too embarrassed to ask anyone at the counter for help. There I was already utterly heartbroken and feeling more alone than ever. Not a single book for me to turn to. I pulled out my phone, googled “books about miscarriage” and found your book and ordered it on the spot.

It must not have been easy for you and your family to share your story, but I hope you know what an impact you’ve had on me and likely so many other women.

You’ve given me so much hope for my year ahead.

Katie Rhodes Oakland, California

Expecting Sunshine is an inspiring story of love, loss, and the bonds of family that can never be broken.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth, visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her “Year of Distraction.” She cannot paint or write or tap into the heart of who she used to be, mourning not only for Zachary, but also for the future they might have had together. It is only when Chute learns she is pregnant again that she sets out to find healing and rediscover her identity―just in time, she hopes, to welcome her next child.

In the forty weeks of her pregnancy, Chute grapples with her strained marriage, shaken faith, and medical diagnosis, with profound results. Glowing with riveting and gorgeous prose, Expecting Sunshine chronicles the anticipation and anxiety of expecting a baby while still grieving for the child that came before―enveloping readers with insightful observations on grief and healing, life and death, and the incredible power of a mother’s love.

Available wherever books are sold.

Request the book at your local bookstores and library.

Publisher: She Writes Press

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

Length: 203 pages

Print ISBN: 978-1-63152-174-4

E-ISBN: 978-1-63152-175-1

Distribution United States: Ingram Publisher Services, Canada: Manda

Expecting Sunshine Book Trailer

Book Awards for Expecting Sunshine

Memoir by Alexis Marie Chute

  • Kirkus Reviews’ BEST BOOKS OF 2017, Best Indie Books of 2017
  • Top 10, IndieReader’s Best Reviewed (Non-Fiction) Books of 2017
  • Winner, Forward Indies Book Awards, Grief & Grieving category
  • 1st Place, Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, Expecting Sunshine, Women’s Interest category
  • 2-time Finalist, Best Book Awards, Expecting Sunshine, “Best New Non-Fiction” and “Women’s Interest” categories
  • Winner, IndieReader Discovery Awards, Women’s Issues Category
  • Winner, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Best Book Cover Non-Fiction
  • Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Parenting/Family Category
  • Canada Book Award Winner
  • Winner, Body Mind Spirit Book Awards, Death & Dying category
  • Bronze medal, eLit Book Awards, Parenting category
  • Silver, Nautilus Book Awards, Parenting & Family category
  • First Place, Reader Views Literary Awards, Parenting/Family/Relationships category
  • Silver, Benjamin Franklin Awards, Autobiography & Memoir category
  • Silver, Benjamin Franklin Awards, Best New Voice: Nonfiction
  • Finalist, Da Vinci Eye Award, Eric Hoffer Book Award (2019)
  • Finalist, Da Vinci Eye Book Award (2018)

BULK ORDER Expecting Sunshine for:

  • Support groups and organizations
  • Book clubs
  • Educational training programs
  • Conferences and healing retreats
  • Support gift packages
  • Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and counselors
  • Schools, hospitals, and libraries

BULK ORDER Expecting Sunshine memoir and documentary film! Special pricing available.

Expecting Sunshine book and film are compassionate resources for bereaved families struggling to make sense of their grief, wishing to find peace and hope as they hold onto the love for their child that died, and are considering or are already pregnant again after loss.

Expecting Sunshine is also an invaluable tool for support volunteers and professionals, and those in medical fields relating to maternal health. Understanding the private experiences of bereaved parents helps care providers in offering the most empathetic and tangible support possible.

Expecting Sunshine available wherever books are sold.

Request the book at your local bookstores and libraries.
Thank you!

Testimonials for Expecting Sunshine Memoir

Exquisitely detailed and achingly honest. A must-read.

- Ariel Brewster

Senior Editor, Today’s Parent Magazine

This book will be a helpful and inspiring addition to the literature of grief and especially meaningful to those who have lost a child and need encouragement to try again. The world feels larger and more spacious, pain more bearable, life more precious after reading this book.

Expecting Sunshine challenges the reader to accompany author Alexis Marie Chute on the most heartbreaking of journeys. Fate has dealt her the task of carrying to term and delivering a baby, Zachary, who will not survive. How cruel, terrifying and capricious life feels as we travel along with Alexis Marie as she summons the courage to get pregnant again. Told week by week as she re-enters the process of carrying new life, we suffer and worry along with her and also revel in her down to earth embrace of her path and her family who accompany her. The contours of grief are too often hidden. Alexis Marie has been generous and fearless in showing herself to us, warts and all, not just her bravery but also her hopelessness at times, her fear, and most important, her coping. This book will be a helpful and inspiring addition to the literature of grief and especially meaningful to those who have lost a child and need encouragement to try again. The world feels larger and more spacious, pain more bearable, life more precious after reading this book.”

- Pat Allen

Art Therapist, author of Art as a Way of Knowing: A Guide to Self-Knowledge and Spiritual Fulfillment through Creativity

(The) memoir reads more like a novel in its elegant use of prose and narrative structure

“Alexis Marie’s honest, unflinching memoir reads more like a novel in its elegant use of prose and narrative structure. But there’s no mistaking its truth – that losing a child at any age can cause a shift in a parent’s universe. Alexis Marie’s struggle to move forward and heal, and still honour baby Zachary, is an inspiration.”

- Janice Biehn

Editor, ParentsCanada magazine

Honest, raw and vulnerable

“Honest, raw and vulnerable – Alexis-Marie Chute opens her heart to share her journey of love, loss, transformation and rebirth. Her message that love binds us together even beyond death, resonates deeply with me as a bereaved mother; it is also a consistent message I heard in my research with bereaved families who experience perinatal death. This is an important, engaging book for bereaved parents, especially those who are considering a subsequent pregnancy.”

- Christine Jonas-Simpson

RN; PhD Professor of Nursing, York University, Toronto, ON Canada

Almost impossible for me to put down

“Wow!  The story of Alexis Marie Chute and her precious pregnancies was almost impossible for me to put down.  I know that this book will be so helpful for families living through subsequent pregnancies- a chance to validate their varied emotions and know that whatever they are feeling is “normal”.  Thank you for sharing your story so that others can learn from your journeys. Thank you Zachary for helping your mother tell yours and Eden’s stories.”

- Lori Ives-Baine

RN, MN (CPB), Perinatal and Pediatric Grief Support Coordinator, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

An amazingly moving and emotional story that any woman – or any parent – can easily relate to.

- Jennifer Hamilton

Editor, CanadianFamily.ca

An honest and tender memoir

“An honest and tender memoir about the complex and difficult emotions of grief and joy a mother goes through during a pregnancy that follows a death of a child. Alexis Marie conveys the delicacy of emotions that go into motherhood after loss and shares with us her courageous journey through the pregnancy that follows. Moms pregnant again after loss will find a fellow companion in her words that are much needed to be shared.”

- Lindsey Henke

LICSW, Founder of Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS)

A beautiful story filled with love

“In Expecting Sunshine, Alexis Marie allows you to accompany her on the tumultuous journey of pregnancy after loss. While navigating the complex emotions during this time, she is vulnerable and allows the reader to witness her most private moments. This is a beautiful story filled with love, both for the baby who has passed on as well as the one she is expecting.”

- Kiley Krekorian Hanish

Bereaved mother to Norbert, occupational therapist, and founder of the Return to Zero Center for Healing

Alexis Marie Chute shows us how full engagement and acceptance, rather than failed distractions, can medicine the soul.

“When mired in unthinkable and immovable pain, artistic expression presents itself as a friend and companion, enabling life and creative energy to flow again and transform random tragedy into an affirmation of life and family. Alexis Marie Chute shows us how full engagement and acceptance, rather than failed distractions, can medicine the soul.”

- Shaun McNiff

Author of Art Heals, Art as Medicine, and many other books on healing the soul through creative expression

The beauty of the text brings the reader to the edge of tears

“In Expecting Sunshine, the Edmonton-based writer and artist Alexis Marie Chute writes about loss—the most primal loss we can experience, the loss of a child—in such luminous prose and with such clear-eyed insight that the beauty of the text brings the reader to the edge of tears. Tears of sadness for her family’s loss, yes, but more profoundly, tears of release and healing as we witness the cathartic powers of art and the scope of a young family’s love. This is a beautiful, honest, important book that makes death a starting point for the continuation of life—literally, as the book chronicles Chute’s first pregnancy after the death of her son Zachary–and grief the catalyst from which joy is born.”

- Pam Petro

Author of the books The Slow Breath of Stone, Travels in an Old Tongue, and Sitting Up with the Dead

A brave, memorable book

“Alexis Marie Chute, tasked with living as she mourns the death of her child, writes vividly and honestly about loss and grief. Expecting Sunshine records a journey that proves to be revelatory for reader and writer alike. This is a brave, memorable book.”

- Jane Brox

Author of Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light

A moving journey

“This memoir is a moving journey of infant loss and the pregnancy that follows in the midst of a society that does not understand the dynamics of perinatal loss. The book explores the different ways men and women process grief, suppressing grief while wanting others to remember a baby no longer physically present, and how to find a new normal. The pregnancy that follows brings multifaceted feelings of continued grief, memories of the previous pregnancy along with anxiety and fear for the safety of the much wanted new sibling. It is a book for parents, professionals and families and friends wishing to support someone who has suffered a loss.”

- Joann O’Leary

PhD, Parent-Infant Specialist, author of Meeting the needs of Families Pregnant and Parenting after the loss of a baby

An uplifting lesson in­ redemption

“Expecting Sunshine is an exquisite book for all those who have lost a child and those who need to understand and cope with untimely grief. It is one woman’s heart-rending story of a mother’ loss which confounds ideology, faith and any of the prescribed cures for mourning. It’s pain and wisdom are as old as time, the simple truths of nature, nurture and the bonds of mother and child.   It is also an uplifting lesson in­ redemption.”

- Rachel Manley

Governor General Award Winner for the memoir Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood

Part memorial, part celebration, this is a striking book

Expecting Sunshine is a brave book, walking the reader through the deep grief that accompanies the loss of a child and moving beyond immediate pain to recovery. Alexis Marie Chute speaks honestly of all the areas of life that are threatened by the death of a child: the relationship of the parents, and their faith, creativity, and belief in themselves and one another. At the same time, Expecting Sunshine acknowledges the myriad support systems that exist to help bereaved parents heal from this kind of trauma and emerge together, altered but vital. Part memorial, part celebration, this is a striking book.”

- Jenna Butler

Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Award winner and author of Profession of Hope

Alexis Marie helps us to honour our own lives

“When a baby dies, too many parents suffer alone in silence. While grieving the unexpected death of her son, Zachary, Alexis Marie courageously gives powerful voice to a mother’s primal heartbreak as she searches for renewal and rebirth in her own healing while carrying her next son, Eden. In her enthralling memoir, for those of us bereaved mothers who share similar memories, Alexis Marie helps us to honour our own lives.”

- Shari Morash

Founder of Josiah’s Journey and Author of Loving Your Baby… A Gentle and Practical Guide to Parenting Through Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

Alexis Marie also shows us that creativity and art are a path to finding oneself over and over again.

Expecting Sunshine by Alexis Marie Chute is a guide through the darkness and heartbreak of giving birth to a stillborn child, the grief that follows, and the anxiety of trying again. She shows how to have hope for a positive outcome even as fear tries to win. Alexis Marie also shows us that creativity and art are a path to finding oneself over and over again. I highly recommend it!”

- Linda Joy Myers

President of the National Association of Memoir Writers, Author of Song of the Plains—A Memoir of Family, Secrets, and Silence

KIRKUS REVIEW

A mother recovering from the death of her newborn child experiences both hope and intense anxiety as she embarks on another pregnancy in this debut memoir.

Chute, a photographer and artist, lost her second child, Zachary, just moments after his birth when he died of an inoperable heart tumor caused by a genetic abnormality called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. After a period of anguish that included an episode in which she pounded her head against a wall and stabbed her palm with a golf tee, she immersed herself in a “Year of Distraction” through frenetic work. Then, after being reassured that Zachary’s illness was not inherited, she became pregnant again—and began a new ordeal, chronicled here in 40 week-by-week chapters. Chute’s worry that the new pregnancy would also end in tragedy preoccupied her and made every doctor’s appointment, ultrasound scan, and bodily twinge an agony of apprehension. Meanwhile, she tried to process the unfinished business of Zachary’s death in a church-run mourning group where she found mainly a gruel of unhelpful platitudes; mothered her rambunctious 2-year-old daughter, Hannah; and tussled and bonded with her husband, Aaron, who was supportive but sometimes wounded her with his determination to get on with life. In this sometimes-fraught, sometimes-luminous work, Chute’s narrative brings together in a roiling, deeply felt tangle maternal experiences that are usually separated, as the exhilaration of pregnancy and the exhausting happiness of raising a toddler are overshadowed by lingering grief and dread. It’s an emotional roller coaster, with giddy anticipation turning on a dime into fretful, claustrophobic brooding and self-laceration. Chute’s prose conveys the full force of her turmoil with powerful imagery—“I felt that I would be like uncooked ground beef, bloody and grated, for the rest of my life”—but keeps enough distance to probe and interrogate her feelings and gain a deeper understanding of them.

A moving saga of motherhood in extremis that earns its moments of certainty and bliss through an honest grappling with pain and doubt.

Expecting Sunshine received 5 out of 5 stars from IndieReader, making the book “IndieReader Approved”, a designation created to make it easier for readers and booksellers to identify quality indie titles.

INDIEREADER REVIEW:

Verdict: EXPECTING SUNSHINE is an invaluable resource for those dealing with loss, as well as a beautifully-told story of grief, hope, healing and love.

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 5.0 StarsIR Rating
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Alexis Marie Chute and her husband Aaron lost their second child, their son Zachary, minutes after his birth due to a heart condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. For a year, Chute descended into what she calls her “Year of Distraction,” in which she was unable to function or focus for grief. On emerging from that year of mourning, she became pregnant once more, hoping desperately this time for a healthy baby. This book is a narrative of that pregnancy, full of anxiety, anticipation, fear, healing, and hope.

There are few if any losses in life that match the heartbreak of losing a child, and this book is an achingly beautiful response to such a loss. This is a straightforward, honest, day-by-day first-person account, all the more effective for being simply and clearly told, without melodrama but with an lovely, lyrical, almost poetic writing style.  Chute holds nothing back, from her anger at God to marital stresses to her panicked anxiety at the thought of possibly losing either this new pregnancy or her oldest child, her cherished daughter Hannah. However, there are moments of brilliant sunshine that illuminate the book as well, as when she hears her new baby’s heartbeat for the first time, singing a refrain of “I am alive, I am well, I am here.”

Bring a handkerchief either way – tears of sorrow and tears of joy are intertwined throughout the book. The honesty and the clarity of the writing make this an invaluable resource not only for those who have lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early death, but also to their friends and family, who may be unsure of what to say or how to approach their loved one’s grief. Chute openly and directly discusses what helped her and what did not – the gentleness, openness, and warmth of her devout Aunt Ruth’s approach to her doubts about religion and faith versus the overbearing dogmatism of some members of her Mourning Together group, for example. The result is a book that is useful as well as deeply heartwarming.

EXPECTING SUNSHINE is an invaluable resource for those dealing with loss, as well as a beautifully-told story of grief, hope, healing and love.

~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader

Mom Egg Review

Expecting Sunshine by Alexis Marie Chute

Review by Eve F.W. Linn

Alexis Marie Chute’s memoirExpecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy AfterLoss, documents with intimate detail and incident her recovery after the loss of a child. Chute’s book offers an authentic new voice and important insights to the literature on pregnancy loss and parental bereavement. The conspiracy of silence that surrounds this universal issue only increases the pain of those dealing with a tragedy and perpetuates the stigma that prevents open discussion about this painful subject.

Chute is an award-winning artist, writer and filmmaker. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from the University of Alberta and her Masters of Fine Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a respected advocate for bereaved families and offers workshops on creativity and healing through the arts.

Written in spare yet lyrical language, Expecting Sunshine‘s taut narrative structure is well constructed. Expecting Sunshine is divided into three sections, each divided into weeks that document Chute’s personal transformation as well as the course of her pregnancy. A reader can choose to read the whole book, or small sections as desired.

Description alternates with facts; language signals and reflects different emotional states. Here is Chute’s description of a baby shower she co-hosts. She paints the scene.

One particular balloon was extra large and shaped like a cradle, boasting It’s a Boy! in baby-blue swirls… You will not make a scene, I warned myself, looking away…All I had were minutes with my baby before he died…Zachary’s ashes…were all that was left of my son. (7)

The reader sees the setting, hears the narrator talking to herself, and is confronted with the inescapable contrast between the narrator’s circumstance and that of the new mother with a living child.

The reader does not get the complete story of Zachary’s birth immediately; the slow reveal of information is very effective in holding the reader’s interest. Chute and her husband Aaron are attending a support group, Mourning Together, which triggers Chute’s rage, pain, frustration at the failed promise of faith. In a duet of shared memories, the couple describes the birth and their son’s short life:

And Zachary didn’t die in the birth canal like the doctors predicted. He moved a little in my arms.”…As always I ached for my baby as for a ghost limb… “Zachary didn’t cry,” Aaron reminisced. He did not open his eyes––but I peeked. They were blue. (22)

Readers want guidance, hope, and most of all a promise that their pain will end. Chute does not provide answers to those suffering through this most primal of losses. Her most valuable gift is her own example. Nowhere does this author make the reader feel less than a partner in this process. Chute has the rare ability to make each reader feel included. The tension and uncertainty that animates the first two thirds of the book showcases Chute’s powerful writing. In the last section, events move towards resolution with the delivery of a second son.

Midway through Expecting Sunshine is one of the most memorable sections in the book, “Horse with Blue Eyes.” Chute is driving along back roads when she feels impelled to stop. “I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such unguarded anticipation––not since early in my pregnancy with Zachary, at least. The thought made me shudder” (89). Here is the reality of a pregnancy after the death of a child, the dogged pull of anxiety fighting against possibility, the the months of repression: “I ate my pain…and it lived inside…my pregnancy was supposed to blanket all other states of the heart, if not suffocating them…at least concealing them for the sake of propriety” (77). In a moment of mystical communion with a horse with blue eyes, Chute finds her truth, her own voice speaking to her: “You have lost your child, but you are not lost” (91). The reality of loss is not the only reality. It is only by progressing through the season of unreality where nothing makes sense)— “Was not my body consecrated for death? My genetic helix a distorted and unsteady ladder?” (35)—that healing becomes possible.

Chute courageously reveals her darkest thoughts about a dark fact: pregnancy loss, a reality, which impacts one in four women, their partners and extended families. Readers are left to imagine Zachary. He is every baby, every child who is lost to an untimely and inexplicable death. The artifacts of his life are few, his remains weigh just ounces, but his impact and influence in the lives of his family and the readers of Expecting Sunshine is far-reaching.

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss 
by Alexis Marie Chute
She Writes Press, April 2017, $16.95 [paper] ISBN 9781631521744 203pp.

The Author, Alexis Marie Chute, is also a visual artist. Watch her paint a large canvas inspired by the Expecting Sunshine book cover. Alexis Marie is giving away the painting – one piece at a time – as one-of-a-kind bookmarks.

Available wherever books are sold.

Request the book at your local bookstores and libraries.

Contact Alexis Marie Chute & her Team

I‘m a people person. Let’s talk.

– Alexis Marie Chute

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