Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about Waiting For Daisy? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Tour by visiting the master list in the post above. Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #5 (The Kid by Dan Savage) and all are welcome to join along (see the post above to sign up). All you need is a book and blog.
Peggy talks about 'scheduling to have a baby,' making sure her life goals had been met and it was the right time to start her family. Now in hindsight do you yourself regret putting a timetable on when you would start your family? Would you have 'scheduled' your life differently?
I think I was exactly the opposite--I chose parenthood over career. It started in college. I chose writing over medical school even though I had always dreamed of becoming a doctor. I thought writing and teaching were more conducive to having the family life I wanted. Then in graduate school, I walked away from pursuing college-level teaching. On one hand, I really didn't like teaching at the college level during the two years I tried it during graduate school. On the other, I was very fearful of following a job to a location that--again--wasn't conducive to starting a family. Instead, I moved to D.C. and took a job teaching middle school. I met my husband and we got married and we started trying soon after. And when it wasn't happening, there was a part of me that became very fearful of this idea that I had set aside a career for family and now I wasn't achieving that family. There wasn't a space to draw my ego--teaching was just a means to make money and have insurance (even if I did love my classroom and teaching and the students).
One spring, we went back to a conference at my graduate school. Many of my former classmates had published books by this point and they had their books arranged on a table. Others were speaking at the conference. That was really the only moment where I felt completely lost. Where I wondered if I had done the right thing. We were doing fertility treatments and that consumed my thoughts left and right. All I could think about was having a child--there was no space to work on a book. At that conference, I spent a weekend worrying that I had made the wrong choice. I had always believed that career could come later, but fertility was time-sensitive. And when I was there, I was worried that I was losing those young, vibrant writing years AND I wasn't achieving the family I wanted. In retrospect, and only in retrospect, I can say that it was worth it to me because I ended up becoming a mother. And through that experience as well as teaching middle school, I found projects where I felt passionately--that felt career-worthy. It's a gamble either way--putting family first or putting career first because in both cases, you risk ending up with none or only half of what you want.
One page 152, the author writes of considering her 3 miscarriages differently - as two miscarriages and one molar pregnancy. She explains that she does that because she doesn't blame herself for the molar pregnancy (caused by sperm abnormality) like she blames herself and feels guilty for the other miscarriages. In your fertility life, do you categorize different incidences like she does? In your heart, do you feel more or less guilty depending upon whose "fault" it was? Is that a way of coping?
It's funny because I did this too a few weeks before I read the book. I was going through my medical history with the new OB and I left out the blighted ovum when I was going through my cycles. When we spoke about the pregnancy, I mentioned the triplet that didn't form and he looked at his notes. "But you didn't list that blighted ovum," he told me. And I explained that I didn't "count" it as a loss because nothing grew inside the sac. I don't know why I do that--maybe to not think about the loss? But sure, I feel extremely guilty that Josh is affected by my infertility. That if he had married someone else, he wouldn't have to deal with infertility or loss or difficult choices. He will probably kick my ass upon reading this and remind me that if he was married to someone else, he wouldn't have our incredible marriage or the twins. But I think many of you know what I mean when I talk about that guilt because our infertility is entirely female factor. At the same time, if we had male factor, I know I wouldn't blame Josh or feel frustrated. I would just accept it as fate and part of the package of loving him. I don't know why I can't apply that way of thinking to myself.
In the epilogue, Orenstein struggles with what might be called the mythology of infertility: the messages and assumptions that it's all worth it in the end; that it's a matter of luck (the chapter's title is "Meditations on Luck"); that everything has worked out for the best; that adoption might be an emotional/spiritual cure for infertility; that some couples may be too quick to seek medical assistance; that she may have waited too long to begin trying to conceive; and, as another woman told her earlier in her journey, that "the pain goes away." Her husband warns her to not become a revisionist, but she acknowledges that becoming a mother has been a "surprisingly redemptive" experience and seems to not entirely reject the above messages. Describe how you feel about the presence of this mythology, both in Orenstein's epilogue and in your own life. How has it affected the way you tell your story, on your blog or elsewhere, and how you interpret others' stories? To what extent have you revised or even rewritten your own story of infertility? Is it inevitable, perhaps even necessary, to do so?
I think it's easy to say once you cross to the other side that it was all worth it, but you say that from a place of retrospect where you know your marriage is intact and you have your child and your health and your sanity (or even if you have lost one of those things along the way, sometimes it feels as if people become accustomed to their own losses and can deal with them without thinking of them in the same enormity that others view them. Does that make any sense?). I think we say this because it's too difficult to think about the other possible outcomes--too painful to consider--so we skirt away from those alternative realities. Spend enough time in the blogosphere and you can meet people who have lived the other paths. Who have lost the marriage or lost their health or lost their sanity. And it makes you shudder as you wonder about the worth of the fight.
I think it's inevitable in the same way that once you get married, you rewrite all of those terrible dates or nights spent worrying and say that it was all worth it because it brought you to the person you were supposed to marry. It feels the same way with a child. I can't imagine my life without the twins, but I also know that if any of the other pregnancies had continued, they wouldn't be here. And thinking of them not existing literally brings me to tears. Thinking about those other babies also brings me to tears. I guess there's no way to win...