Sunday, September 15, 2019

At Trinity and around the world: Trinity Professor publishes new novel


Very few times in our life are there moments so powerful, that they leave an imprint on our minds. Sometimes the intensity of such an event leads us to learn something that we believe everyone should know. While many of us may share such knowledge through conversation with others or simply with friends, Professor Theresa Morris chose to share her experience with the entire country by writing Cut it Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America.

Professor Morris has been teaching in the sociology department at Trinity since 2000. Freshly out of her Ph.D. program, Morris applied to jobs everywhere. “My husband was on the job market too and I was pregnant during this time so we needed a job,” Morris explains. Initially, she chose Trinity amongst all offers because the institution had offered her husband a job as well. Both she and her husband felt that the small class sizes would allow them to connect with their students. While her husband is now teaching at Manchester Community College, Morris remains at Trinity because she enjoys the connections she can make with her students. “My absolute favorite part of teaching here is working with students and my favorite class is Reproduction, Birth, and Power. I do research in that field, so I feel attached to it,” Morris says. She further explains that she “enjoys introducing students to material they have never thought about, in particular in birth and reproduction.” “Just giving them that information and watching them continue their research with that realm” is what Morris truly loves about her job.

Even though Morris conducts research within the field of reproduction, it was her own birth experience that led her to write her book. “My son was born in 2000 and he was a surprise C-section. I was upset about that because I was ready for a natural birth,” Morris explains about her unexpected C-section. She went on to say that a vaginal birth is something very empowering for a woman. Having that opportunity taken away from her, Morris embarked on a journey to search for peace and most importantly, knowledge.

Having had an unexpected C-Section, Morris looked into having a Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean (VBAC).  She found that, “the risk is the scar from the C-Section could come apart when the baby is coming but usually, when there’s a scar it’s a minor separation.” After all her research and consulting with various people, Morris went through with a VBAC. “ I was so happy and it was a more empowering experience but what struck me, was researching the risks. I felt I had to put so much research into it and it struck me that not many people have the ability do to this,” says Morris. Morris reflected that, as a professor, she had the knowledge to go about the research but many women do not have the same background that she does. Noticing the lack of information she received from the hospital and her doctor, Morris wanted to find a way in which she could pass her knowledge down. Thus, her book came to be. 

Morris began the project in 2006 and it was not until October 7, 2013 that her book was released. “This project took too long! I conducted my interviews very slowly…with the ideas that I might write a book. Some people told me, ‘this is an article not a book,’ but in 2009 a friend sent me a packet of book proposals, successful book proposals. I realized I could do it and so I did that,” she explains. She continues to describe the process of getting her proposal accepted, “I wrote the proposal in four to five months and I sent everything to California. They told me no. The NYU Press, a month after April 2010 let me know they liked it and asked for another chapter. I got a contract that summer and my proposal went out for review. I had to have it finished for 2011 and then there were revisions for a year so it officially came out in 2013.” Having finished the book a year ago, Morris explains that it feels so strange for people to perceive it as new.

The path to October 7, 2013 was a long one for Morris so it brings into question: What kept her inspired to pursue the project to its end? “It’s really important information… so there’s that desire to get it out that it is an important issue. It was also important to have support. My husband was very supportive. He would say, ‘I think this book is important so you need to give the time to it’ and it’s good to have someone remind you of what’s important,” Morris comments. In addition to her husband’s support, Morris also felt very fortunate to have such a great editor. As a journal writer, Morris was already tough, especially when receiving critiques. However, the world of books brought upon a whole new level of critiques, which her editor was more than prepared to help her deal with. Having such a hardworking editor Morris also felt obligated to see the project to its end.

Morris hopes this book reaches people with various backgrounds. Her book has been advertised in both, the academic and non-academic spheres. However, her ultimate goal is to get the conversation started. She hopes that policymakers get to hear the information in her book—she understands that if people don’t begin talking about the problem then it will never be fixed. “It’s more of getting a message across instead of selling one,” she states.

Currently, Morris is conducting ethnographic observations at two hospitals in the area. She is looking at the role of nurses and has had students help her on the project. Using this information, Morris hopes to begin a book that will compare hospitals and explain the strains they face. 

Morris stands as an example of what one can achieve through hard work and perseverance. “Often times, you don’t have an affect on someone’s life but you want to and when you do, you really want to make it positive.” However, with her book now published, Theresa Morrison will certainly have a positive affect on many women’s lives.

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