Got Cliché?

My infertility reading – other than blogs – has been rather haphazard.  When we were first diagnosed, I read just about anything I could get my hands on, partly to learn, partly to not feel as if I was the only person who was dealing with this.  Some books helped. Others, not so much.  As we got deeper down the rabbit trail of treatment with more and more experiences behind us, I found my own voice and also found that most books just kept saying the same thing.   

41lcshl2b3jl__ss500_By the time Waiting for Daisycame out, it was late 2007, I was two and a half years into the journey, with one lap, two HSGs, 6 IUIs and one spectacularly awful miscarriage behind me.  I was no longer interested in reading the prepackaged success stories (I did it and so can you!) that most books seemed to be or the books about miscarriage that never seemed to give me much comfort (this onestill grates me).  I also had never heard of Peggy Orenstein and wasn’t particularly interested in what she had to say on the topic of infertility. 

After my second miscarriage, a thoughtful commenter directed me to her article about how the Japanese mourn miscarriage.  It helped me a great deal, but still I wasn’t ready to take the plunge and read about how she eventually went on to have a child. As we got back onto the rollercoaster again for IVF #2, though, I began to feel that familiar tug to read more of these completed stories about infertility.  I decided that my wait for Daisy was over and it was time to pick up the book.

It didn’t take me long to finish. Peggy Orenstein is a beautiful writer, and her experience is so raw. She lets it all hang out – every ugly emotion, every flaw. More than a few times, I caught myself nodding knowingly at the sentiment that she put so much more eloquent words than I ever did. I also found myself shaking my head at her and her husband – neither should win the award for Best Communicator in the Marriage.  But, I digress.

I stayed with Peggy – all through the multiple miscarriages, the donor egg fiasco, the failed adoption.  I was nearing the end, anticipating the denoument , assuming that Daisy was the product of adoption.  Do you know what happened, instead? If you haven’t read the book, you might not want to read any further. I’m just warning you now.

She got pregnant on her own. Over 40. With one ovary.

1418417514_dae7a872c2My first reaction at her final triumph in reproduction was not joy.  It was not hope that if she could do it with one ovary over 40 and after multiple miscarriages, so could I.  It was anger.  I was angry that she ended up fulfilling the Cliche To End All Infertility Cliches. She had become Charlotte who got pregnant when she decided to adopt.  She was Tina Fey’s character in Baby Mamawho ended up getting pregnant with a freaking t-shaped uterus after her surrogate faked a pregnancy.  She was Nicole Kidman who’s dip in magical waters made her fertile.  It’s the “When All Else Has Failed and You Have Reached the End, You Will Get the Pregnancy and Baby that You Always Wanted” Cliche.

I bet you are thinking right about now, gee, Mrs. X, bitter much?  A lot of this anger comes from the fact that I still haven’t managed to have my Cliche moment and I don’t know if I ever will.  But another portion of it comes from the fact that a great majority of the books, movies, etc., out there that touch on infertility give an unrealistic portrayal of how many people end their battle with infertility.  Most end it either by adoption, getting pregnant through ART or deciding to live child free.   It’s a rare couple that after many, many years of heartache and pain have a child naturally. 

But, we are suckers for a happy ending.  And, I am genuinely happy for Peggy.  I’m also sorry that she had to go through as much as she did to get there, but I’m thankful that she wrote this book about it because for a while there, I saw a lot of myself in her.  Just expressed a lot better.

13 thoughts on “Got Cliché?

  1. I just have to say that I understand, in a way. Having never felt a life inside of me, I can’t imagine what it did to you to lose your babies. For a while I was incredibly envious of those who had been pregnant even for a short time. Gross but true. Miracles happen all around and I certainly understand what it’s like to feel unkissed by fortune. And it didn’t help to hear words of encouragement that made me feel like I was personally responsible for pulling a miracle out of my ass and becoming pregnant just so other people could feel better. When you lose your faith, it’s like another piece of you has died. You don’t want to read a happy ending unless your name is involved. No encouraging words. It is what it is.

  2. Great post! My reaction was exactly the same as yours (although I knew the outcome of the book before I started reading). It still somehow irks me that she wound up with the cliched happy ending — but she does realize how damn lucky she was, & tells her story so well, that I think I’ll forgive her. ; )

  3. i had the same reaction to her book. i really liked the first 90%, especially, like you said, the part about being in japan & the jizo statues. but yeah, the end was kind of a huge let down…

  4. I hate that cliche, too, as it protects the dodo public from having to face and accept the deep and abiding difficulty and sadness of folks who don’t get the fluke, oddball happy ending despite the odds. Of course, it’s not Orenstein’s fault. The problem is that there are no other strong tales of other paths–and as Pamela Jeanne can testify, most publishers don’t want to deal with that kind of book.

    I don’t think you’re bitter (and even if you were, you have every right to be, dear). I think we’re all just sick of having to put up with the happy-ending-that-makes-all-the-boohoos-irrelevant mindset.

  5. I read this book after I heard an interview with Orenstein on Fresh Air, back right before we starting trying but when I suspected I would be infertile due to my eating disorder. I really liked it; the cliche didn’t bother me, probably because I was too early into the experience back then. Also, in the Fresh Air interview, she was pretty sensitive to how infertiles would react to her pregnancy.

    I just recently found your blog, by the way, and love it.

  6. i haven’t read the book, but i watched “baby mama” last week after my surgery and it was brutal. honestly, it’s obvious that tina fey nor amy poehler have had to deal with IF.

    you know, i would love to have my “happy ending” one day, but what about a book or a movie about how much it sucks to get kicked in the gut month after month.

    i don’t think that it would sell though. mass media loves it when everything is all tied up nice and neat.

    you’re not bitter. just tired and fed up with the whole barren business, and i can’t blame you one bit.

  7. I have no respect for the woman because she got what she wanted and has actually made much of her subsequent career being a worry troll around IVF.

  8. Ah, Mrs. X – I feel your pain. It pisses me off, just reading your post. I know I’m not gonna read that book, because I’ll feel exactly the same way. She didn’t do anything, she wasn’t special, she just happened to be on the right side of the statistics for once. What – she deserves a medal?! All those movies/books just seem so trite, families wrapped up in shiny red bows. People don’t want to deal with reality, they want the Disney ending.

    I call bullshit.

    Excellent post, Mrs. X. You hang in there.

  9. I have to say I won’t be reading this, although I am very happy for her… HOWEVER, I must thank you a thousand times over for the link to her story on her miscarriage in Japan. I was at a point where I needed something like this, and you pointed me in the right direction. Thank you!!!

  10. I hate those cliches. Now that Ukulele is here, everyone keeps telling me that we’ll have a baby of our own soon.

    As I always quickly point out to them: “Ukulele IS our OWN.” And then I add: “Adoption is not a fertility treatment.” (I have to attribute that last quote to a fellow blogger who has allowed me to use it. And trust me – do I ever use it!)

  11. I read Peggy’s book early on in my journey and I really loved her writing but I too felt sort of like- “what? after all that and you get pregnant naturally- you’re one of those god damn stories??” Anyway, I totally hear you and the cliches are not something I can stomach. I guess people just don’t like to hear that things don’t work out.

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