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.
15. Dying Inside of Me: Unexplained Recurrent Early Pregnancy Loss
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JENNIFER MOREY HAWKINS
People who have had losses may find comfort or validation from hearing how another person has reacted to and dealt with a similar loss.
(Baddeley & Singer, 2009, p. 206)
Telling one’s personal narrative allows an individual to make “sense of embodied disruptions” and create “new normals” (Harter, Patterson, & Gerbensky-Kerber, 2010, p. 467). Personal narrative offers alternative insights into what occurs in the world (Harter, 2009) and includes understanding the patient’s perspective beyond the confines of biomedicine (Harter & Bochner, 2009). Reading personal narrative provides a window through which to view another’s experiences (Riessman, 2002). According to Riessman, narrative exists as a unit of discourse in which derivation of meaning occurs and subsequent experiences may continue to shape the story’s meaning. Individuals are drawn to “narrativize particular experiences in their lives, often when there has been a breach between ideal and real, self and society” (Riessman, 1993, p. 3). This chapter provides a window into my personal narrative of unexplained recurrent early pregnancy loss, a story that challenges societal ideals of what to expect when expecting. The telling and retelling of my story shapes my understanding of my normal. Personal reactions to ways the world addresses early pregnancy loss and insights regarding experiences of grief, uncertainty, and coping are presented. Theoretical constructs from communication and uncertainty management (Brashers, 2001, 2007; Brashers, Neidig, & Goldsmith, 2000) provide me a conceptual framework by which to understand how my...
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