If someone told you with certainty that you will have a baby sometime in the near future, like Clare was told, how would that affect you? Would it change your approach to cycling?
Definitely--I think so much of the pain and anxiety of infertility comes from not knowing. Because conception is time-sensitive, because ART is so expensive, because there are risks everywhere you turn, you are constantly making decisions without knowing if there was a better choice somewhere else that would bring you to parenthood either faster or easier or with less pain (emotional and physical). If I could have been told emphatically, beyond a doubt, when or how I would have a child, I could have enjoyed that time prior to their arrival. I think we enter parenthood completely burned out. We become so exhausted trying to get pregnant or trying to adopt and remain so stressed out even as we get close to parenthood during pregnancy or matching, that by the time we actually get to be parents, we turn around and realize that we missed out on enjoying the process that other people sail through so happily. And we're drained. We're so happy to finally be parents, but we have no emotional reserves. If there was a way to know beforehand, I would want to have that information--even if it wasn't the path my heart wanted to necessarily take in the moment. I'd rather know that all my efforts are going to fail and I'm going to have to choose a new path than spend my emotional reserves on unsuccessful pursuits. I have a deep respect for people who are able to jump off this ride and try a new path before they've gotten to the point where they are emotionally spent.
If you read the book without knowing about the pregnancy/miscarriage aspect of the storyline, how did you feel when you got to that part of the story? If you were unprepared for that aspect of the storyline, did you find it particularly jarring or upsetting? Or, if you read the book already knowing about this storyline, do you think that changed how you reacted to it? Did you find the pregnancy/miscarriage aspect made you relate to the characters more?
The first time I read this book, I didn't know about the loss part of the storyline and it was the first in a strange series of books that I picked up that all had miscarriage as part of the plot (I read three or four books in a row that each had miscarriage or infertility as part of the book). I bought this book on a night when I was particularly sad and scared and overwhelmed after the twins were born. It was our first night out after the kids came home from the NICU and we went to a Thai restaurant (like Clare and Henry!) and then wandered into a nearby bookstore before heading home. For whatever reason, I felt like I had to buy this book that night. There is actually a photo of me holding my daughter and reading this book. I remember sitting in bed and crying through the miscarriage sections and not being able to even get the words out to tell Josh about what I had read. I think a large portion of my reaction was because it hit close to the bone, and the rest of it came from the timing in the book. I cared about these characters--we are deep into the book by the time this part of the story comes around. When I read this book the first time, I was alone in the house with the kids. These characters were the only people coming into my field of vision once the twins were napping. While Josh could bring home stories from work, I was telling him stories from my books. And Clare felt like someone I could have met in the clinic while I was waiting to be called back to an appointment.
I think her inability to stop trying hit close to the bone too and seeing a character making decisions that I would make made me take on her pain and put myself in her shoes. Does that make any sense?
Before he died, Henry wrote Claire a letter telling her that he would see her again. While the knowledge clearly gave her comfort, it led her to spend the later part of her life waiting for him. Was it fair for Henry to give that information to Claire?I could barely get through that scene in Contact where Jodie Foster met her father (or an alien who was created to resemble her father) and then had to say goodbye and go back. And I've always cried for Alice when she needs to leave Wonderland. I hate the finality of goodbyes. And death is the most final of goodbyes.
On one hand, it would be terrible to mourn and then see the person again--but only for a moment--and then have to mourn a second time. On the other hand, who would turn down that moment to spend even a few seconds with someone they love and miss? I don't think having that knowledge makes the mourning harder or easier--I don't think there is anything you can do or say to help someone through that process of accepting loss--but, for me, it would make the aftermath, the daily life without that person, easier because I would wake-up every day wondering if I would see them that day. But I think I would go through the entire mourning process again after that moment together. Still, I'd take that extra period of mourning for that moment and I only wish this part of the book could be true and we could be brought back together with a person one last time.