Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about Embryo Culture? 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 #11 (The Mistress's Daughter by AM Homes) and all are welcome to join along (see the post above to sign up). All you need is a book and blog.
I started Embryo Culture on a trip and I quickly learned that this book is not beach material. It's heady and smart and funny and as often as I laughed while reading her account of life in the clinic, I also paused to think as she asked the tough questions that have no clear-cut answers. Anyone who feels stumped for blogging topics only needs to read through this book to have dozens of questions to tackle in thoughtful posts. Beth Kohl manages to make infertility thought-provoking, historical, touching, and amusing--all at the same time.
From early in the book, it is clear that the author ends up with a take-home baby. How do you think this affects her perspective on infertility and how did affect your perception of the book?
Whether or not the author reaches parenthood or not is of little importance to me as a reader unless the genre is self-help (I would want to read about living child-free from someone who is living child-free though when I read adoption books, the author has usually taken one path through adoption and it doesn't bother me to have someone who went through domestic adoption to also write about international adoption or foster-to-adopt). I would have read Waiting for Daisy if Peggy Orenstein didn't end up with Daisy and I would have read Embryo Culture if Beth Kohl didn't end up with her three girls. I just don't think the end result is the point of these books and I certainly don't read them to glean any secrets of success.
I think these books ask the bigger questions surrounding infertility. They touch on the ethics or how infertility fits into the larger picture of religion, self-worth, feminism. I think, if anything, reaching parenthood gives her a wider scope--she can remember what life was like in treatments and making hard decisions on that end, but she also has a sense of what life is like on the other side and the processing that goes on in that end. I think she could have written this book while in treatments (prior to parenthood), but I think it becomes a richer text because you get to see the life beyond too.
I'm actually curious how this question gets answered by others. I would like to say that it really depends on the book or type of writing for me. I like the Redbook Infertility Diaries covering someone actively in treatments, though I'll admit that it doesn't really phase me one way or the other (I was not upset when the writers were both blogging while out of treatments, but I think it adds a great layer to have JJ actively trying right now and writing about the process). I like Elizabeth Swire Falker's book about treatments even though she became a parent through adoption. I don't need my advice columnist to have gone through every situation she is doling out advice on (for instance, I don't need Carolyn Hax to be a divoree recovering addict with intimacy issues and overbearing parents. I just need her to be broad-minded and creative) and I don't need my infertility writer to still be trying or not have children by the end of the book. But I know there is a level of annoyance in the community that the only books that are published are those where the author has success down the road through one means or another.
The author also talks about how many embryos should be transferred at any given cycle. Should there be a limit?
I think medicine is an art more than a science and every body reacts differently, therefore I'm always wary about setting inflexible limits that disregard numerous results from the same situation. Yes, single embryo transfers would be the ideal, but I don't think bodies fit into clear-cut ideals. On the other end, even without hyperstimulation (which you would still need to do somewhat to take into account the attrition rate for fertilization), you would probably have more frozen embryos in storage which creates a situation on that end. What happens to all of those frozen embryos that need to be frozen singly instead of in pairs to account of future single embryo frozen transfers? I think limits talk more about how we wish things could be than how they actually are.
Beth likens Dr. Frankfurth's office to one that "should have belonged to a family doctor in Anchorage, circa 1950, and not to a late twentieth century endocrinologist." How much do appearances matter? What were your first impressions of your RE's office? Did/does that color your interactions with the RE himself or herself?
I laughed because I'm definitely the type who gets a gut-sense of how much I trust the place based on the first appearance. I would describe my clinic (and the other DC Order of the Uterus members will probably laugh at this) as warm. It's warm in temperature and emotional climate. They have soft, blurred paintings on the walls--quiet Kandinskys as opposed to vibrant Jackson Pollocks, furniture with rounded corners, and single-room bathrooms for discreet crying. And they are all things I noticed, regardless of how much they were intended vs. randomly purchased. I think my RE is a warm, caring person regardless of his office furniture or artwork, but I'm sure these secondary features go into how I process his words and actions.
No, really, you thought the idea of getting to talk about a book with a lot of other people including the author is cool and want to be a part of this? Then join for the next book. And hop along to another stop in this online book club.