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.
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.
My 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.