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Communicating Pregnancy Loss

Narrative as a Method for Change


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 5: Reframing Loss


18. Cruel Optimism and the Problem With Positivity: Miscarriage as a Model for Living desiree roWe After the first miscarriage, I went back to the gynecologist. During what I always think of as the preamble to the visit, the nurse sat me down in a tiny, hot room, just off to the side of where I had waited, to check my vitals and ask preliminary questions. The nurse had a cough. We were sitting close enough that I could feel a surge of warm air every time her chest heaved. The heat of her breath mixed with the dry, stale heat of the furnace made the room feel as if it were closing in on me. I watched her type my information into the laptop. Click. Click. Cough. Click. Click. Cough.1 Everything was a blur until the nurse asked: “How many pregnancies have you had?” “One,” I replied. “How old is your child?” “I had a miscarriage.” “Oh,” the nurse responded, “I meant real pregnancies.” Everything then remained blurry and out of focus. I was too proud to cry in that tiny, hot room with the throngs of patients waiting just outside the glass door. I felt all the need, the longing, and the want rise in my empty belly to my throat. It was hot, hotter than fire and moving fast like sewage rushing out of dirty pipes. I quickly apologized and changed my answer. “None. I’ve had no real pregnancies. I’m sorry. I was confused. It is so...

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