UKZN alumnus Dr Quraisha Dawood launched her new book Almost Me, which explores her personal journey through miscarriage, post-partum depression and motherhood.
Dawood writes in the book – published by Yiz House – about how these experiences broke her, built her up and ultimately shaped her identity.
While Dawood was doing her PhD in Sociology (Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies) at UKZN, she suffered a miscarriage. ‘It was so difficult to find any personal account of similar trauma I could identify with. As a woman in the Muslim Indian community, there is no dialogue on this…not until recently at least. UKZN counselling was the first stop on my journey and I wouldn’t have got through it all had I not found help there first.’
Dawood’s PhD helped her stay focused, but at the same time, she felt quite alone finding it impossible to describe the emotions involved in a miscarriage. Towards the second half of her PhD, Dawood gave birth to a baby boy and then suffered post-partum depression.
‘This led to a long journey of acceptance, self-love and finding myself again,’ she said. ‘Once more, there was nothing I could find to read or watch to help me get through it. Being a very taboo subject, people expect a mother’s natural instincts to kick in or else there is something wrong with her. What they don’t realise is that when a child is born, so is a mother – it is a new role. There should be no shame in it, or problem about asking for help if one has trouble adjusting.’
Dawood believes a conversation around miscarriage and postpartum depression is difficult but needs to happen.
‘When a woman gets married, there are immediate questions around when will you have a baby. Followed by when will you have another? A woman’s body becomes a space for public opinion. Often these questions upset a woman who is experiencing pain or come across as insensitive because unfortunately that is how some people measure success,’ said Dawood.
‘If this book can help one person feel less alone, then I have reached my goal – that includes fathers and husbands as well as these experiences affect them in a profound way. This is something we need to destigmatise.’
For Dawood, writing was a therapeutic way of putting her feelings out there so that she didn’t have to carry them within her all the time. ‘I think that kind of personal story is something readers seek out. Writing has always been cathartic for me. Aspiring writers should write for fun, write about the hard stuff you don’t always talk about, write for yourself and don’t burden yourself with the age old question of “what will people say”. Your story has value.’
Dawood, a research manager for a private higher education institution, added: ‘Work keeps me busy and happy. My son is now five years old and we really need to plan a family holiday soon.’
The book is currently available online through Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Kobo. When hard copies become available in South Africa, they will be available at YIZ House Publishing or directly from the author through her Instagram handle @quraisha_d.