I read a lot of books. I have however only read a few infertility-related books. They usually instruct me to give up bread, pasta, wine, chocolate, cheese, fun etc. You know the drill. I usually fail. You probably already knew that too. There is also a genre of infertility book that I have avoided like the plague. The type where the front cover is a lady sitting in a green field, a cute baby under each arm, smiling into the camera, her eyes glistening with joy while unicorns fly around in the background.
Yay for you.
I have no good explanation why I don’t want to read those books because that is exactly what I want. I am infertile? Yes. Do I want to have a baby? Yes. Does knowing that IVF works for other infertile people with similar if not exactly the same problems as me give me hope? Yes, of course it does.
However, I read a book recently that isn’t like any other book I’ve read on infertility – The Pursuit of Motherhood by Jessica Hepburn.
I kept meaning to start it. I had it in my handbag for a couple of weeks while I travelled around. It waited patiently for me on my bedside table. It even came with me visiting family over Christmas. However, the combination of Zoladex, insomnia, holidays and too much Christmas boozing kept us apart. Finally, we saw our chance and we travelled together on the train to my hysteroscopy. I read the first few chapters on the train. I read a few more waiting for the nurse. I read some waiting alone by my bed while the woman on the bed next to me sobbed hysterically. Shoulders heaving, snot dribbling sobs. It was a gynecology day surgery. She clung to her husband and WAILED when they told us no partners were allowed to wait on the ward. (If you are wondering, my husband did a fist pump into the air, grabbed his work laptop, blackberry and fled the scene leaving a husband-shaped hole in the wall).
She was having a coil fitted.
Anyway, good job for me I had Jessica’s book to read. I carried on reading. I went into theatre and came out. I had a sandwich (egg salad) and carried on reading. I got picked up and went home. I carried on reading. I went to bed and carried on reading.
Then I finished and went to sleep.
Jessica’s journey has certainly not been easy – she has endured eight years of fertility treatments with numerous different clinics, early miscarriages, a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and has every alternative therapy from psychic tarot card readings to acupuncture under her belt. Going through a range of IVF/ICSI treatments (11 fresh and frozen rounds in total) with various different clinics also makes it pretty darn educational for a relative newby like me. Yet for all the heaviness and heartache of infertility (and Jessica has had more than her fair share in that department), this book is by no means a depressing read.
Jessica has a natural, honest and witty style that kept me glued from beginning to end. I could relate to a lot of it. One quote in particular that keeps coming back to me weeks after I finished:
She’s hesitant, and I feel a familiar crumpling in my chest as I realise what she’s about to say. Why isn’t there a word in the English language for feeling happy for someone and sad for yourself at the same time?
Amen to that, sister.
So many times I found myself nodding, crying, and laughing in agreement. Wherever you are in your infertility journey – whether you are at the “month after month of smiling faces and nothing whatsoever to smile about” phase, or knee deep in the dark, murky swamp that is IVF – I think you would find Jessica’s book an engaging and informative read.