Scars of Gold

A midwife's personal story of birth trauma and recovery

Non-Fiction - Womens
130 Pages
Reviewed on 11/21/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Stephanie Lynn for Readers' Favorite

Scars of Gold by Sharon Stoliar is a powerful and eye-opening look at one woman's life-changing medical trauma at the hands of those she trusted most with her health. Hospital malpractice and neglect aren't unheard of, but Sharon's shocking account shows how quickly and easily it can happen. In Scars of Gold, she recounts her case and the painful steps she's taken since on her difficult road to recovery as she attempts to regain her life and independence. Hers is a relevant and heartbreaking account of one woman's story, but as she came to find out, it didn't end when she left the hospital. Along with the help of friends and family, Sharon's story is an inspirational read of her learning to redefine herself. The damage done was permanent, but her faith and determination only grew as she set out to make a difference.

Scars of Gold by Sharon Stoliar grabbed my attention from the first page. Stoliar writes in a beautiful conversational style as if she's right there with the reader as she recounts her story. I found myself reading halfway through in a single sitting, and if I hadn't needed to stop to deal with chores, I'd have finished this one in a single sitting as well! Sharon's story is unique, but her struggles with ACS (Acute Compartment Syndrome) are not something to be glossed over. Her case and the medical professionals' disregard for her care is a frightening problem, and issues like these only seem to be increasingly commonplace in hospitals today. Determined to raise awareness to protect others from the struggles she faced, she tells her story in Scars of Gold. This is a quick read but a deeply emotional one. I hope her inspiring and powerful story helps others on their path to healing and their search for answers as much as it's helped me.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Scars of Gold by Sharon Stoliar focuses on the author’s personal experience in maternity care. When Sharon was admitted to a maternity care hospital, she thought she will be at home after some days and taking care of her baby. Within twenty-four hours of giving birth, however, she developed acute compartment syndrome in her right lower leg, which required urgent decompressive surgery. She was not diagnosed definitively until it was too late, despite the suspicions of a neurologist at a much earlier stage. A professional midwife herself, she tried to tell the teams of doctors and midwives coming in and out of her room her assessment of her condition but nobody seemed to listen. Listening to her could have significantly changed the outcome because she could have had the surgery she needed. As a result, she suffered from birth trauma and has to live with the physical restrictions and pain that she has now. With this book, she hopes to inspire others with similar experiences to find their voice.

Sharon Stoliar’s Scars of Gold is a call to action for maternity care providers to listen and nurture a more emphatic relationship with their patients. The book details the traumatic birth experience of the author and the long-term impact it has had on her life. As a health practitioner and someone who has experienced a traumatic birth, the author is highly credible and qualified to write about the topic. In discussing birth trauma and using her voice to fight for change, Stoliar tries to raise awareness on the subject so that it can be prevented from happening to others. Scars of Gold is a social commentary on maternity health care designed to inform the general population about the issue. Ultimately, it is an appeal to maternity providers to take their patients more seriously by listening to them with kindness and compassion. Highly recommended!

Vincent Dublado

Sharon Stoliar’s Scars of Gold is an inspiring and thought-provoking story of a midwife’s personal experience of birth trauma, its impact on her life, and how she used it to become an instrument of change for midwifery. It all begins with her own birth experience, where she came into full awareness of the importance of healthcare workers’ attitudes and the importance of listening to women’s maternity care needs. Within twenty-four hours of giving birth, the author was diagnosed to have developed acute compartment syndrome in her right lower leg, a rare complication in the postpartum period, but which requires urgent decompressive surgery to prevent permanent damage. A decade has passed and she wouldn’t be dealing with physical pain in the present if the doctors and midwives had only listened to her while she was complaining of her agonizing pain. Would her life be different for the better if they had paid attention to her agony? This is her story.

In a perfect world, good quality midwifery care should offer a combination of prevention, support, early identification, and swift treatment of complications. But even if a perfect world does not exist, the continuum of a woman’s pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, labor, and birth deserves to go through the smoothest process possible. Sharon Stoliar becomes a voice that helps to make this possible, to ensure that no woman will suffer the same fate as she has. Scars of Gold is a clarion call to all midwives and other healthcare workers to not only perform better in helping to strengthen women’s capabilities in the normal processes of pregnancy but also to develop an attentive ear and compassionate care for childbearing women. It is a must-read for everyone, especially for those who bear the midwife title, to remind them of meeting the standards and competence in practice.

Edith Wairimu

Scars of Gold by Sharon Stoliar gives a voice to women who have suffered trauma during childbirth from negligence and inspires change in modern maternity care. It candidly covers her devastating birth experience, her journey toward recovery, and her fight for the rights of other women with similar experiences. In 2011, Stoliar developed acute compartment syndrome (ACS) within a day of giving birth to her son. Despite continually complaining about the severe pain she was experiencing in her leg, she was ignored and misdiagnosed. Though she counts herself lucky to still be able to walk, she documents how the experience profoundly impacted her personal and career life. The scars she bears include the time she lost during her child’s first moments as she worked on her recovery.

Scars of Gold offers critical and timely recommendations for reassessing and improving current maternity care. It is an important work that shows the extensive impact negligence and misdiagnosis can have on a woman’s future after childbirth. It also sheds light on trauma from birth experiences and offers hope for those who are experiencing it. Stoliar’s persistent fight for the rights of other women across the world is inspiring and is an encouraging depiction of how devastating experiences can be turned around and used to influence positive change. Through her story, maternity care providers will be inspired to fully appreciate how their clinical practice affects women under their care and improve it. Scars of Gold by Sharon Stoliar is a useful work that advocates for the re-evaluation and improvement of maternity care. It contains actionable proposals to prevent more women from suffering from pain and trauma following childbirth.

Philip Van Heusen

Having a baby is not easy. Having complications from childbirth is even more difficult. However, giving birth while developing complications and being ignored is unbearable. Sharon Stoliar shares her horror story about childbirth in Scars of Gold. The only way to see a scar as golden is to understand that God is still in control. Sharon was trained as a midwife and knew her swollen leg with unbearable pain was not normal. Unfortunately, the clinical staff ignored her complaints, and she almost lost her leg. Damage resulted and affected her life after delivery. Her physical ability was severely limited, but her emotional pain was also great. She went into the hospital whole and ready to begin the glorious life of motherhood but came out from the hospital broken and angry. She started a ten-year fight for justice. Sharon now advocates training clinical staff about ACS to keep what happened to her from happening to others.

Hospital staff must learn to listen to their patients. Sharon Stoliar is on a campaign to teach the need to listen to patients and then act on their needs. Unfortunately, too many in the medical field need to learn how to show empathy. Patients need to know they are more than just a number. Clinical staff using proper people skills actually helps patients heal better and faster. One word of advice that Sharon gives in Scars of Gold is to document everything. I have always heard that he who has notes wins. The trauma caused Sharon to lose so much, including her job, career, quality bonding time with her baby, and even her marriage. Sharon’s faith is seen by her statement, “But God has been gracious and faithful to me. And just as promised, He restores what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25–27).”

Tani Paxton

Scars of Gold is a brave sharing of an all too common story of a woman not being heard. This book has already impacted the maternity care sector and needs to be distributed widely. Sharon's work is a prime example of resilience and is inspiring.