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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 4: Without the Sense of an Ending

Extract

14. Melancholy Baby: Time, Emplotment, and Other Notes on Our Miscarriage Jay BaGlia In reading the ending in the beginning and the beginning in the ending, we also learn to read time itself backwards, as the recapitulation of the initial condition of a course of action in its terminal consequences. (Ricoeur, 1984, pp. 67–68) Time tends to be a complicating facet in all stories, whether for scholars or readers-for-pleasure, or for those who are simply entranced and confounded by the inevitabilities and idiosyncrasies of a life lived. Time moves within us and around us. We think back to the past and we think ahead to the future. In this chapter, I evoke past experiences and imagine the future before, during, and after the story of our miscarriage. In Paul Ricoeur’s (1984) ample meditation on time and narrative, he revitalizes Aristotle’s concept of emplotment (muthos) and explores this anew as the organization of agents and acts within a temporal setting, progressing toward an end. Emplotment mediates—for the audience—between stage one (what Ricoeur calls practical experience, or pre-knowledge) and stage three (from which the recipient of the story must draw conclusions). Ricoeur refers to these three stages as mimesis1, mimesis2, and mimesis3. Mimesis, follow- ing Aristotle, is representation. As a mimetic activity, a narrative represents a version of reality. “There is reality,” writes James Carey (1989) “and, after the fact, our accounts of it” (p. 20). Because emplotment as mimesis2 serves as a liminal space, what precedes it can’t...

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