Remedies for Sorrow: An Extraordinary Child, a Secret Kept from Pregnant Women, and a Mother's Pursuit of the Truth (Hardcover)
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This "compulsively readable memoir...brings to light an issue that has been too long ignored...An immensely important book" (Emily Oster, New York Times bestselling author of Expecting Better and Cribsheet).
A story of a mother’s fierce love for her exceptional child and her courageous journey to break the silence about a hidden risk to pregnant women: "both a beautiful family story and an urgent call to action… [A] moving, potentially life-altering book" (Robert Kolker, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Valley Road).
After a seemingly uneventful pregnancy, Megan Nix’s second daughter, Anna, was born very small and profoundly deaf. Megan and her husband, Luke, learned that Anna could have lifelong delays due to an infection from a virus they had never heard of: cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which Megan had unwittingly contracted from her toddler during pregnancy.
Megan was electrified by this knowledge. She had been warned, while pregnant, about the risks of saunas, sushi, and unpasteurized cheese, a lack of folic acid, and an excess of kitty litter. She knew to fear a slew of genetic syndromes she could do little to prevent. But she had not been told that CMV is contagious in the saliva of one out of three toddlers, spread through a kiss, a shared cup, a bite of unfinished toast. She had not been told that the stakes were high, that congenital CMV causes more birth defects and childhood disabilities—including blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism—than any infectious disease. Or that some of these disabilities are evident at birth, but others appear suddenly at age two or three and are never traced back to congenital CMV.
Remedies for Sorrow unfolds across the dramatic landscape of Sitka, Alaska, where Luke makes his living as a salmon fisherman. There, Megan struggles to meet Anna’s needs and dives deeper into the mystery of why no one—not her OBGYN, not her toddler’s pediatrician—had mentioned CMV, despite the staggering cost of this silence to families and children like Anna. From this rugged and beautiful place comes a memoir about the boundless capacity of mothers, the extraordinary child that is Anna, and the lifesaving power of truth.
About the Author
MEGAN NIX's writing has appeared in The New York Times; The Washington Post; Brain, Child magazine; and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage Master of Fine Arts program in nonfiction, Megan divides her time between Colorado and Alaska with her husband and young children.
"How did a virus that mothers pass to their children — one that leads to significant, sometimes tragic, lifelong effects — become, as Megan Nix puts it, 'nonexistent in the narrative of pregnancy?' Written with passion, wisdom and grace, Remedies for Sorrow is both a beautiful family story and an urgent call to action. An essential, moving, potentially life-altering book."
—Robert Kolker, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Valley Road
"Remedies for Sorrow might be the most powerful book you read this year. Megan Nix is a writer of grace, intellect and bravery. Buy it for every mother you know."
—Emily Rapp Black, New York Times bestselling author of The Still Point of the Turning World
"This is so much more than a book about medicine; it is a fierce, tender, intimate, beautifully written meditation on motherhood. The harsh beauty of Alaska and the intricate grace of her faith weave through Megan's story like silver and gold threads, invitations to sink deeply into the story of a life that is alternately heart-breaking and heart-healing—and that very much needs to be told."
—Cara Wall, author of The Dearly Beloved, a Read with Jenna pick
"This honest and beautifully written account of a child’s potentially preventable disability from congenital CMV is a call to action for parents and medical professionals. More than that, though, it is a love story, a testimony to the power of the bonds between parent and child, family and community, human beings and nature, a writer and language. As a doctor, a writer, and a mother and grandmother, Remedies for Sorrow informed, moved, and inspired me."
—Dr. Suzanne Koven, author of Letter to a Young Female Physician
"Anna is born tiny, deaf, and near motionless, a casualty of preventable congenital cytomegalovirus infection. In Remedies for Sorrow, her mother Megan Nix performs a deep biopsy of suffering and loss and rage, exposing her own existential dread, the loneliness of illness, and the cataclysmic power of love. That she triumphs over a global biomedical conspiracy of silence surrounding CMV infection adds to her and Anna’s heroism. I’ve never read such a stunning excavation of the multi-dimensional experience of serious illness and recovery."
—Dr. Rita Charon, Founder and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University
"A medical odyssey that reads like a vivid and intimate diary entry, Remedies for Sorrow tells the story of one mother’s journey from near-despair to hope. It lays bare the shocking particulars of an avoidable but ignored disease that has brought pain to untold numbers of families. But it’s also a story that will resonate with anyone whose experience of pregnancy and parenthood was different from what they’d once dreamed—in ways both devastating and redemptive. This searing and spiritually rich memoir is a must-read for mothers and everyone else."
—Abigail Tucker, New York Times bestselling author of Mom Genes
"Nix is honest and forthcoming, an engaging writer with a gift for description. CMV is just beginning to get the attention it deserves from the medical world, and this timely and insightful account will help raise awareness."
—Booklist (starred review)
"...Nix investigates with an unwavering focus the most common virus that pregnant mothers do not know about. In this complex family memoir of science, faith, and advocacy, Nix [calls] out the paternalism so often found in medicine. She brings us the daily hard and beautiful of families raising (and losing) children with CMV...helping us imagine halting the viral damage to cells with the lyrical hesed—a call to contribute to society—in these pages."
—Hands & Voices
"[A] moving debut...In sharing the fears, frustrations, and challenges she has faced, the author lays bare both insidious medical paternalism and the dismal failure of public health policy. An inspiring memoir with an urgent message."