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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Book Tour #13: The Empty Picture Frame

I first read Jenna's book at the beach last summer. I love reading books from people I've actually conversed with--either face-to-face or via email. It adds an additional layer of understanding to the words. And I think that's why I love it when authors read along with a book tour and leave comments and answer our questions. It just makes for a different read. And this book, like Tertia's, carries with it an emotional component because you've followed their story via their blog for months/years before tackling their book.

So, thank you, Jenna, for writing it.

At several points in the book, Jenna describes how she felt that motherhood was a "calling" for her -- the conviction that she was "called" to be a mother and that she would achieve that goal someday, somehow. Do you feel the same sense of "calling" in your pursuit of parenthood?

I don't know if I was called to be a mother because when I hear the term "calling," I liken it with something that I would be exceptional at doing (or that it needs to be me over another person). I won't know if I was an exceptional parent for many many more years. But I can say that I felt strongly drawn to the idea of parenthood and I wanted to experience it very badly. I was willing to try multiple paths to get there. I made life choices/career choices based on the idea of motherhood and what type of mother I wanted to be. I'm lucky that this worked out for me because I made a lot of choices that I probably would have regretted since I gambled making them.

I knew I also didn't have it in me to stop trying, but I also was lucky that I felt a great deal of comfort with a multitude of options.

On page 134, the author talks about the failures bringing repeated pain to their families. In what ways did your treatment affect your extended family?

I think the pressure I felt was entirely mine, but I couldn't help but think of the joy I felt when I became an aunt. I wanted to give that relationship (aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin) to the appropriate people. I assumed they wanted it and were looking forward to it. I know they certainly felt joy once the twins were here, but I don't know how much pressure/pain was actually there in our families and how much was assumed.

Did your clinic have a Baby Day like Jenna described? Even if not, did you ever have a moment like that in the clinic, with newborn babies being brought in, or a woman cycling who brought her child with her? How did you deal with it?

We didn't have anything like that. Things are super discreet at our clinic; I don't even remember ever seeing a wall of baby pictures. A few times people brought their kids to the waiting room and it didn't give me hope nor did it bother me any more than it did when I saw a baby out at a restaurant, store, etc. I liked it when people didn't bring their children, but I also understood that the need sometimes existed when a child needed to be brought to an appointment.

The NICU had a wall of pictures in the hand-washing station. It depended on what mood I was in as I looked at it.

I think the biggest mistake is for people to believe that another person's happiness can bring you hope. It may or it may not. I am rational enough to know what worked for one person may not work for another. I am a dreamer enough to hope that the same thing will happen to me.

Interested in joining a book club entirely online? Hop along to the post above to sign up for our next book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.


Samantha said...

I don't know whether it would be a calling for me, but I do know that the idea of becoming a mother hit me one day, like flipping a switch. My husband and I had been discussing it lightly, for a little while, and he had been saying, yes I want to be a parent, while I had been saying, I don't know. Then we were at a wedding and caught up with an old friend who was in the first trimester. At that moment, I suddenly thought, that should be me. I'm ready, I want children. It took another 6 months convincing my husband before I stopped birth control (if only we'd known!).

My clinic never had a baby day either. It seems pretty, well, insensitive. Both clinics I have gone to have had the pictures, but I could deal with that. I never minded the occasional child in the waiting room, but I can see where an entire day focusing on the successes could be very painful. What if you were there to get a beta to much sure that chemical pregnancy was out of your system? Boy, that would suck on baby day! I like your statement, "I think the biggest mistake is for people to believe that another person's happiness can bring you hope." Sometimes it can bring you hope (afterall we like knowing that IVF can work), but other times it simply seems to highlight your own failures and the gulf between you and what you want. Everyone else is getting what they want, why can't you?

Ellen K. said...

I really like your comment at the end: "the biggest mistake is for people to believe that another person's happiness can bring you hope. It may or may not." I completely agree.

One strength of Jenna's book, IMO, is that it was written and concludes with her still in the trenches. There is no "it happened to me, so it will happen to you" condescension/presumption that appears in some parenting-after-IF memoirs.

loribeth said...

I also love your line about "the biggest mistake." So very, very true! Great book choice, Mel!

JuliaS said...

I never presumed that since it "happened for me" it would happen for others. I hoped that knowing what I went through would give people the hope that they could survive what they were going through. Had Jenna ended her book any differently, I am not sure it would have made a difference to me because I subscribe to the belief in your last comment.

I will say though - it was refreshing to see a non-fairy tale ending that was actually more hopeful than one would expect. I wouldn't consider my ending a fairy tale - even though I had my much wanted children, at the end of the story, I still have seven babies I lost and the requisite heartache that goes along with that and the struggle to create those lives - delivered whole and well as well as those lost. Sometimes, that is just life and as with any story - there are good spots and sad spots.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Caba said...

You are so much of a better person than me! I HATED when people brought babies or children to the clinic. It just seemed insensitive to me. I know they weren't doing it to try and hurt me ... but I was way too emotional raw, especially at the clinic! to deal with that.

I love your "biggest mistake" comment, because for me it was the exact opposite. Lots of success stories made me feel like it WOULDN'T happen for me ... because for some people it just doesn't work. And I was afraid with all these successes I was hearing, I would be the one that didn't succeed. It's stupid, but it's really how I felt.

Deb said...

I agree with your biggest mistake idea. Success of others can be motivating at some points and totally depressing at others in catagories of journeys.

Thanks for sharing!

Ms. Infertile said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish I had signed up for this tour and read the book.
I like your thought about other people's happiness not always offering hope.

anita said...

"I think the biggest mistake is for people to believe that another person's happiness can bring you hope." I found myself agreeing outloud to this comment Mel.

I also felt like all of the pressure was of my own making but didn't realize it until recently.

Great book choice Mel and wonderful review as always.