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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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13. The Empty Woman: Dealing With Sadness and Loss Aftera Hysterectomy


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This pregnancy loss narrative is not a story of conception; it is actually a story of deception. The only conception in my life was a false conception that I definitively did not want to have children. It was not until after an elective hysterectomy to deal with problematic fibroid tumors that I became aware of how deceptive the strength of that stance was. This chapter will first chronicle how a single woman in her late thirties made the tough choice to have her uterus removed and was subsequently startled by the difficult emotions that surfaced, experiencing grief at a time when peace and healing were expected. After I share my story, aspects of Jerome Bruner’s (2002, 2004) writings on narrative will be employed to analyze a time in my life when I felt defined by my emptiness, a woman without a uterus.

My Narrative of The Empty Woman

To share my experience in having a total abdominal hysterectomy, I will present specific memories organized around five themes of shame, stress, singleness, surprised sadness, and secrecy. My narrative context is that I identify as a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-class, single female who considers herself a professional career woman. The timeline of my hysterectomy takes place during my first two years as an assistant professor. The diagnosis of having significantly large fibroid tumors both in and around my uterus came a month before I began my tenure-track job. The surgery...

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