The pregnancy was unplanned. The boyfriend was new. Mira Ptacin wasn’t sure she was ready for any of this, but it was too late to back out now. After all, she was in love with Andrew; she was 28; and why not accept his proposal for marriage? Everything was going to be just fine. Even if she did just cancel her health insurance. But everything was not fine.
Ptacin’s memoir Poor Your Soul (Penguin Random House, 2016), recounts her experience of grief and loss at finding out from an ultrasound that her unborn baby had serious birth defects and could not survive outside the womb. Ptacin had three options: end the pregnancy, induce early delivery, or wait and inevitably miscarry.
While Ptacin struggled with losing her child, her parents tried to cope with the sudden loss of Ptacin’s brother, 14-year-old Julian, who was killed by a drunken driver. Tragedy seemed to hit Ptacin from all sides.
Ptacin is a Battle Creek-native and a graduate of Western Michigan University who deals with social issues as she deals with personal issues. Her book describes what happens when a woman who's expecting and faces the complication of having no health insurance. She addresses the lack of empathy shown to a woman who has had to terminate a pregnancy or gone through a miscarriage by friends in her inner circle as well as society in general. She writes about the irony of growing up Catholic and having a father, a medical doctor and former seminarian, guide her through the end of her pregnancy.
As part of her concern for the social welfare of women, Ptacin teaches memoir-writing at the Maine Correctional Facility, near her home in Portland. She says sharing her story with the women imprisoned there has been especially meaningful.
“These women have often endured hardship all their lives. They end up in prison because of one action, and it’s so easy to label them — just like someone could label me as a woman who had an abortion and hate me because of it. These women are often in there because they were trying to survive. Getting to know them and listen to their stories—it’s been an honor. I’ve learned so much from them.”
Ptacin, who now has two children with her husband Andrew, says, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
Ptacin will read from Poor Your Soul and sign copies of the book on Friday, January 15, at 7 p.m. at Kellogg Community College’s Binda Theatre, 450 North Avenue in Battle Creek. The event is sponsored by Battle Creek Books and the Battle Creek Community Foundation and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m.
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