Spotlight, Review, Author Interview & Giveaway: From the Lake House: A Mother's Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher

Book Blurb & Info

Dizzy with grief after a shattering breakup, Kristen did what any sensible thirty-nine-year-old woman would do: she fled, abandoning her well-ordered life in metropolitan Boston and impulsively relocating to a college town in North Carolina to start anew with a freshly divorced southerner.

Dismissing the neon signs that flashed Rebound Relationship, Kristen was charmed by the host of contrasts with her new beau. He loved hunting and country music, she loved yoga and NPR; he worried about nothing, she worried about everything. The luster of her new romance and small-town lifestyle soon―and predictably―faded, but by then a pregnancy test stick had lit up. As Kristen’s belly grew, so did her concern about the bond with her partner―and so did a fierce love for her unborn child. Ready or not, she was about to become a mother. And then, tragedy struck.

Poignant and insightful, From the Lake House explores the echoes of rash decisions and ill-fated relationships, the barren and disorienting days an aching mother faces without her baby, and the mysterious healing that can take root while rebuilding a life gutted from loss.

Toot's Review by Betty Bee

“Surely the universe paused, or should have, as my time with Carly ended. Surely not a single cloud drifted across the sky, nor did one wave roll atop an ocean.”

'From the Lake House: A Mother's Odyssey of Loss and Love,' by Kristen Rademacher is the type of memoir that makes you cry on one page and smile on the next. When she was 39 years old, during a whirlwind relationship with a very different man than she was used to dating, Kristen became pregnant. Initially, she was excited. She loved the idea of being a mother and did all the things that expectant mothers do to prepare for their new little life.

Unfortunately, after nine months of carrying her daughter in her womb, Kristen missed her due date and soon discovered that her baby had died in utero. Such a loss is devastating to even the strongest of women, and Kristen was no exception. After learning that her baby no longer had a heartbeat, Kristen was told that she would still have to go through labor and deliver the child normally, after which she would spend a brief time with her.

Kristen's account of her labor and delivery were so well written and so touching that I couldn't help but tear up while reading. Her experience seeing her daughter for the first time and struggling to feel like she was still a mother despite not being able to bring her baby home were heartbreaking. Any loss of a loved one is hard, but losing a pregnancy must be unimaginable and Kristen brought the sheer scope of the loss, feelings and the difficulties that she went through afterward into beautiful focus. I highly recommend this book if you like a good, touching memoir and are ready for a little bit of a cry.

Author Interview with Betty of Toot’s Book Reviews

What is ‘From the Lake House’ about?
From the Lake House is a memoir that hones in on a few years in my life in which a few impulsive decisions led to a cascade of losses. Specifically, I’d jumped into a rebound relationship after a painful break-up with the man I’d wanted to marry. Not only that, but I’d relocated for this relationship, leaving behind friends, a job, and a city I loved. Rebound relationships are often built on a wobbly foundation, and by the time I realized that my new beau and I were very different, our wobbly foundation became strained. But by then, I became pregnant and we forged ahead, determined to make our soon-to-be family work. When we lost our baby, I nearly lost myself.
From the Lake House is a memoir that describes a season of pruning in my life, as I had to start over on my own in many ways. And it also describes the new growth that resulted when I rebuilt my life from the inside out.
Please tell us about something about your life, not in the book.  Perhaps there was a scene edited out, etc.
My book is about a time in my life that took place over sixteen years ago. Now that it is published, I feel compelled to tell readers that my life now is very different than it was at the time. I’ve sometimes hesitated to tell my story candidly, because I understand that the topic of infant loss is not an easy one for many. And, given the times we are living through as a society right now, those looking for an escapist ‘beach read’ will likely hesitate before reaching for my book! However, my memoir is ultimately about hope, resilience and finding meaning from hardship, and this is a good story to share with our broken world. It’s taken me time to view the version of my self depicted in my memoir with compassion, instead of as someone who simply paid a huge price for a series of impulsive decisions. While it’s true that I’d made questionable choices as a younger woman, it’s also true that I could not have grown and built the life I now love without living through those difficult few years.
A C.S. Lewis quote I stumbled across perfectly summarizes what I’m trying to say: “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
Well said, Mr. Lewis!
I recently spoke at a conference about how the losses I describe in the book led to unanticipated gifts. Certainly, writing and publishing a memoir stand out as a huge gift, and I hope my book will land in the hands of readers who will find its message of healing helpful. I’ve also learned to embrace a simpler lifestyle. Because I’d lost a great deal within a short span of time, it seemed I had no choice but to take stock, slow down and pare down. Allowing myself to be content with less is a gift that brings much freedom. Finally, had I not lost my baby, I don’t know if I would have developed an appreciation for the outdoors. In those early days of mourning, taking myself for walks became an imperative, and I found unexpected comfort watching birds flit from branch to branch or autumn leaves float to the ground. Looking back, I think being outside took me out of my head if only for a little while, and allowed me to connect with something bigger than myself. Now, I get outside whenever I need to recharge, and my ideal get-away is renting a cabin in the mountains or visiting a national park. Learning how to give myself peace and connection through the natural world is an enduring gift.
Losing a baby or child has to be one of the most gut wrenching experiences. I love your use of letters to Carly.  Would you like to talk about that or do you have other recommendations for parents trying to cope with loss?
In the initial months after my daughter’s death, I began writing in a journal. I wasn’t new to journaling, but I soon relied heavily on writing as a way to release and ultimately process my emotions. Recording my feelings on the pages of my journal helped me to better understand them, which somehow made them less overwhelming for me. As strange as it may sound, my journal became a blend of a perfect friend/counselor during that raw season of grief. My journal allowed me to ‘say’ whatever I needed or wanted without a filter. I remember being concerned that sharing the depth of my sorrow with anyone other than my journal would be burdensome—looking back, this was probably untrue, but I did feel an unspoken need to protect my friends and family—so my journal became the repository of my day-to-day experiences as I walked the path of mourning.
I’m certainly not an expert on advising parents on how to survive baby loss, and I know that everyone grieves differently. However, I would encourage any parent coping with the loss of a baby or child to find a healthy way to express their whirlwind of emotions. I obviously was drawn to writing, but I know of others who turned to visual arts, music or even gardening. I would also encourage parents to find a way to cultivate a continuing relationship with one’s child, even though that child is no longer with them in the flesh. When I first started writing letters to my daughter, I had no idea how comforting it would ultimately be to me, and how it would become one way I could stay connected with her.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
Is there such a thing?! As I age, my idea of happiness has evolved into simply appreciating and having gratitude for moments of grace and ease. For me, this might be an afternoon on my sofa with a juicy book. It might be hauling myself up a challenging mountain trail to soak in a glorious view. It might be being moved anew by a song I’ve heard a million times, or hilarious laughter with a friend about nothing in particular. The more I pay attention to these moments, rather than rushing through my day to get to the ‘next thing’, the happier I am overall.
What is your most prized possession?
I’m embarrassed to say that I love my Vitamix Blender! I had to think about this question for a minute—If I had to evacuate my house for some reason and relocate on the fly, what would I grab besides my cats, photos, special books and my laptop? I’m pretty sure I’d take my blender. I’ve made smoothies every morning for too many years to count, and one of the first things I do when I get home from a vacation where I’ve been sans-blender is to make myself a delicious and healthy frozen drink. The Vitamix is an industrial strength blender, unparalleled in whipping up smoothies and scores of other things. They are ridiculously overpriced, but mine is almost a decade old and going strong. If anyone is in the market for a new blender, definitely check out the Vitamix! I’m sure this reads like a paid testimonial, but it’s not!
Where would you most like to live?
I love the mountains of North Carolina. I’m perfectly content where I live in Chapel Hill and have no reason to leave, but living in the humble but beautiful mountains of North Carolina would be pretty spectacular!
What are you currently working on?
Before writing From the Lake House, I mostly wrote essays. I love the form and have piles of nearly finished essays tucked away in my computer, and I also have ideas for more. I look forward to returning to this type of writing.

Author Info

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching.

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