Book Review: Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian, Sarah C. Williams by Chaplain Greg Slate

Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian, Sarah C. Williams

10 hours reading

 Review by Chaplain Greg Slate

 The hospital in which I work has a very large labor and delivery program.  In fact, more babies are delivered at Saint Joseph Hospital than anywhere else in Colorado.  Sadly, due to the large volume of deliveries, we also have a larger than average number of what used to be called miscarriages, now routinely referred to in clinical settings as a fetal demise. 

 As chaplains we are often called to provide comfort to grieving parents as well as completing necessary paperwork for the disposition of the remains of the fetus. 

 When I came across this book, my attention was grabbed initially by the title at first, because of the baby’s name, Cerian.  It is Welsh, meaning fair or blessed.  It is a name usually used for girls.  When I dug a little deeper, I realized that it is the story of parents that despite receiving a diagnosis that assured the baby would not live, they chose to carry the child to full term.  This flew in the face of the recommendations of her medical team to terminate the pregnancy.  It was interesting to read about the reactions of the team members, ranging from confusion and frustration to others that were very emotional about the decision, feeling it was one of courage.

 The author details many events and emotions that she encountered throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.  This included sharing with the other children in the home and including them in the journey, helping them to feel that the entire family was on the journey together.  She also details her own physical suffering throughout, which included extended nausea and weakness. 

 Also included is the sharing of emotions surrounding a very close friend that was also pregnant and delivered a healthy baby.  The way the two women navigated the combination of joy and sorrow and being a support and encouragement for one another is very touching.

 I am certain that stories like this are not extremely rare but they are rarely told.  It is gratifying to read about a family that made a decision that was informed by their faith but also from a deep desire to give this child everything they could until they were not in a position to do so any longer.  So many are unwilling to think of children prior to birth as fully human, often dismissing them as only “a blob of tissue”.  I am happy to read about one family that felt that their terminally ill pre-born child was a person, deserving of care and love even though they would not live long enough to experience this in the normal way.

 In the end, Cerian was born and breathed a few moments before dying, just as the medical professionals had predicted.  They were certain of the outcome but they had no idea of the depth of love this child was given prior to that day.