Narrative as a Method for Change
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.
8. Infertility, Professional Identity, and Consciousness-Raising
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CARYN E. MEDVED
The home I grew up in was not particularly filled with stories, tall tales, or accounts of the past. My family culture is full of unspoken love, perhaps best described as self-effacing. You stick to the facts. You don’t call attention to yourself. You don’t dwell in setbacks; instead you make concrete plans for the future. When my family gets together, the narrative impulse only makes a short-lived, primarily comedic appearance and often requires the aid of at least two margaritas. My experiences growing up and certainly other dispositions have led me to hold on to the private, to sequester it willingly in deference to the professional. I have tremendous respect for those who skillfully make use of the personal as a means to the theoretical; even so, my career until now has not taken that path.
Thus, not surprisingly, I’m a bit baffled at my want (even impulse) to tell the following story. All I can surmise is that I need to compose as a way of writing myself into a new subplot, if not a fresh scholarly direction. Writing it for myself, and publishing it as a story for you to read, admittedly, are two different concerns. I was astutely reminded of this distinction by a close friend a few months ago on a road trip through the Midwest. Yet let’s start with the telling and then we’ll circle back around to its public narration. And allow...
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