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Communicating Pregnancy Loss

Narrative as a Method for Change

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Edited By Rachel Silverman and Jay Baglia

This book is the Winner of the OSCLG Outstanding Book Award

The loss of a desired pregnancy or the inability to experience pregnancy are intensely personal phenomena; these losses are also, in our culture at least, extremely private. Communicating Pregnancy Loss is a collection of first-person narratives about the experience of pregnancy loss. Although there is no shortage of books that help prospective parents cope with an unintended pregnancy loss or ‘survive’ infertility, most of these books are authored by physicians or therapists and address pregnancy loss through the language of guidance. This book is different. It is the first of its kind because the contributors (primarily communication scholars but also healthcare personnel and other scholars from the social sciences) tell their story of loss in their own words, offering a diverse collection of narratives that span experience and identity. The authors employ various feminist theories, narrative theories, and performance theories as well as other well-known communication theories and concepts. The book’s narrative approach to writing about and thereby understanding pregnancy loss offers readers a method for changing the way pregnancy loss is understood personally, culturally, and politically.

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Section 1: Pregnancy Loss and Social Support

Extract

1. Nine Years Later and Still Waiting: When Health Care Providers’ Social Support Never Arrives Maria Brann Nine years ago, I lay in a cold and sterile emergency room nearly nine hun- dred miles from home bleeding out the once-growing life from inside of me. Throughout the entire experience of losing my baby, I had to be the one to seek out what I needed. I had to care for myself. The providers of care did not give me what I wanted, or what I needed. They did not care for me; they did not support me. Unfortunately, this experience continued after my miscarriage with my follow-up appointment with my own midwife. This lack of support from health care providers is a common experience shared by other women. Details of the unsupportive interaction with the obstetrics resident and nurses during the loss of my baby are detailed elsewhere (see Brann, 2011, 2013). However, to illustrate how social support is often absent from wom- en’s actual experiences, and their recalled narratives, following the physical experience of losing a baby through a miscarriage, I provide the following example highlighting my follow-up appointment with my midwife. In both instances, social support could have provided me, the patient, with comfort to foster healing. Yet, no health care providers, not even my midwife who is trained to provide empathic, woman-focused care (Clift-Matthews, 2007), offered any type of support to me during my mourning. This narrative offers me a way of remembering and provides the reader...

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