How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting

Stories of Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Loss

Foreword by: Kim Jernigan
ISBN 9781771510219
Softcover | Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 7.5 in
256 Pages

About the Book

Winner of a 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal

One size fits all does not apply to pregnancy and childbirth. Each one is different, unique, and comes with its share of pleasure and pain. But how does one prepare for an unexpected loss of a pregnancy or hoped-for baby? In How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting, writers share their true stories of miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, and other, related losses. This literary anthology picks up where some pregnancy books end and offers diverse, honest, and moving essays that can prepare and guide women and their families for when the unforeseen happens.

Contributors include Chris Arthur, Kim Aubrey, Janet Baker, Yvonne Blomer, Jennifer Bowering Delisle, Kevin Bray, Erika Connor, Sadiqa de Meijer, Jessica Hiemstra, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Lisa Martin-DeMoor, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Susan Olding, Laura Rock, Gail Marlene Schwartz, Maureen Scott Harris, Carrie Snyder, Cathy Stonehouse, and Chris Tarry.

The fourth book in a loosely linked series of anthologies about the twenty-first-century family, How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting follows Somebody’s Child, Nobody’s Mother, and Nobody’s Father, essay collections about adoption and childless adults. Together, these four books challenge readers to re-examine traditional definitions of the concept of “family.”

About the Author(s)

Jessica Hiemstra is an author and poet who is widely published in literary journals. She was the winner of the Malahat Review's 2010 Open Season Award for Non-Fiction, a finalist for the 2010 Winston Collins/Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem, and the winner of the 2009 Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival poetry award.

Lisa Martin-DeMoor's poems have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Edmonton on Location: River City Chronicles (NeWest, 2005). Her essay "A Container of Light" was awarded the silver medal in Personal Journalism at the 2012 National Magazine Awards. Lisa lives in Edmonton, where she teaches English and creative writing at Concordia University College of Alberta. One Crow Sorrow is her first full-length collection of poetry. Please visit Lisa online at


“The essays in this collection endeavour to depict our very human vulnerability to loss, as well as our open-ended capacity to love.” —The Tyee

“Together, these pieces try to capture the full spectrum of loss, in the process articulating an experience that’s too often overwhelming, isolating and demoralizing.” —The Edmonton Journal

“The essays are smartly stitched together, from difficult prenatal experiences to unwanted birth outcomes and finally to the authors’ attempts to mend their pasts and move forward despite losses, heartbreak and disabilities and a dearth of bouncing-baby happiness.” —Alberta Views

“Becoming, and staying, pregnant is difficult. So is being a parent. Finding a book about these things, however, is not. How–to manuals are copious, but honest stories of loss and grief are rare . . . How To Expect What You’re Not Expecting brims with sadness, but it also acts as a container of light, helping us to see each other a bit better across unthinkable darkness.” —Telegraph Journal

“These are personal stories of anticipation and hopefulness, fear and grief, joy and beauty. Anyone will find something to identify with in these stories.” —The Banner

“This collection … is not just about loss. It is about resilience, hope, courage and determination … [these stories] demonstrate the complex web of emotions we are forced to navigate when it comes to intensely confronting experiences of loss. After reading the collection of essays we are reminded that while no two experiences are ever the same, we as humans are all subject to, and will inevitably experience, the turmoil, rawness, and reality of grief and loss in one form or another.” —Journal of Motherhood Initiative