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First, I liked this book because it was entertaining. And a fast read. Orenstein is funny. She's extremely candid about her fertility treatments, both conventional and alternative. One of the things I liked MOST in the book is that she seeks out alternative medicine...and it FAILS. I get so tired of these inspirational, "I became a vegan and took acupuncture and all of a sudden...I was pregnant. Yippee!" In fact, Orenstein's acupuncturist basically dumps her when she can't get pregnant after a long time! LOL! She also even goes so far as to get donor eggs from a young woman whom she had befriended, who was an admirer of her earlier books. She feels guilty about asking this young woman to do it....but the guilt doesn't stop her. And the IVF with the 21 year old donor's eggs fails, too. She does conventional IVF, too, which ultimately fails..and writes about how shoddily her case was handled at IVF clinics, where the doctors seem more concerned with a fast profit than with long term success for their patients. Oh, and she had cancer, too, right before her infertility started. Frankly, I am surprised anyone encouraged her to go on all these fertility drugs and to get pregnant in light of that risk factor. But she goes for it anyway. So, Orenstein pretty much experiences it all...and watches everything.. . FAIL. She is also very frank about her fights with her husband, which seem serious.
One reviewer said the book is really negative, and whining. I don't agree with that. I think Orenstein is funny, and a survivor. She's an example of the kind of person who can take the hit and keep going back to the drawing board. I would think people struggling with fertility would actually empathize and enjoy reading this book. On the other hand, since Orenstein did have bad experiences with most of the things she tried, if people want to keep on rose colored glasses about their chances for any particular procedure, then yeah, Orenstein's recounting of her negative ones isn't going to give them any cheer....
The one potentially frustrating thing is that clearly this book is going to appeal to women who are having fertility issues. And this book contains a wierd, inexplicable happy ending of her being able to conceive and successfully carry the baby to term ... out of the blue. (Her main issue wasn't conceiving, but with experiencing constant miscarriage). On one hand, it's a good lesson that our bodies can sometimes do that sort of stuff...but if you are looking for commiseration in infertility, this sort of pat, inexplicable, Hollywood type ending, "And when I least expected it, I got pregnant!!!" may be exactly what you do NOT feel like hearing right now.... For stories of women who had infertility that did NOT resolve, then I would suggest Ann Taylor Fleming's "Motherhood Deferred" or Liz Tilberis' "No Time to Die." She also seems to want a biological child so strongly that she basically seems to intentionally avoid an adoption that almost falls into her lap. If you have adopted kids, or think you would like to adopt, you might find yourself disliking Orenstein or being amazed at her behavior regarding this...
We have only been trying for 10 months, and even got pregnant once which I miscarried at 8 weeks. But sure enough, I got worried after 3 months, since I am 36, and the fertility doctor I saw completely assured me that worrying was a good thing at my age. He wanted to start treatment right away. After miscarrying, I read a ton of books, and this one was my last one. When I started reading, I first thought "mmmmh, not really much information in here," however, I could not stop reading. Her writing is fantastic, truly therapeutic since I could compare myself to so many details she describes. At one point, she talks about Chlomid and it upset me a bit since I don't agree with her. However, I am now glad I finished reading. It isn't so much about little details or the choices she made. For me it was about calming me down and reassuring me that I was on the right path. The ending is unexpected, but wonderful and totally makes sense. Another important part is that last chapter where she brings the statistics. One intersting thing is that apparently 90% of couples in their late 30s get pregnant on their own within two years! Two years and 90%! When you go to any fertility clinic and are over 35, they will tell you to start treatment after only half a year! How insane is this. I also like when she compared fertility doctors to salesmen. And I don't want to be disrespectful, I truly belief there is place for fertility specilist and they can and should help when truly needed. But from my own experience, it all comes down to money. I felt like a number whenever I entered the clinic and did some tests/treatments, they just follow procedure and never has anybody even looked at my charts of the last months. However, really liked the book!
I could have written this book. I SHOULD have written this book! But reading it was almost as good. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recognized many of the players Peggy Orenstein encountered on her quest for fertility. As I sit here drinking mud-flavored Chinese herbs, trying not to get stressed because I am stressed that I cannot get pregnant, injecting myself with horrible concoctions to boost my hormones that have caused me to put on 15 pounds in the last 6 months, let's just say I can RELATE! This fertility stuff is NOT FUN and yet reading Peggy's book made me laugh so hard I cried. A kindered spirit! Someone else who has been there and survived! And been through worse than I could imagine. I tried reading it to my husband, hoping he would join in my glee at looking in the mirror and laughing at myself. Since his words were almost identitical to Peggy's husbands (why do we ALWAYS have to do it in the missionary position? Why can't I take a hot bath?) he could not even hear the words, they so hit the mark. Thank you Peggy for this well written (more than just a fertility book it also covers the Atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and the beauracracy of adoption side by side with the feminist angst and ambilivence of wanting to be a mother and a career woman and a free spirit in today's society) and humorous glimpse into your life and the lives of so many of us 40 somethings who find ourselves wondering how did life go by so fast that the window of mother hood has almost slammed shut!?
Peggy Orenstein's articulate prose is as "gorgeous" as her mucous:-). (She was frequently told by medical people that her cervical mucous was "gorgeous".) In this wry, intensely personal, beautifully told tale, she presents us with a cautionary tale of modern life that can be summed up as "Don't put off having children." I began to feel somewhat constrained as I turned the pages of her compelling story, thinking I had judged her too harshly in my review of her book "Flux"(available on my profile page, page 36 of reviews, dated December 6, 2000). In this current book, she writes briefly of her upbringing in a Conservative Jewish family, and of how she felt her mother's life was severely limited, strictly contained by old ideas of a woman's role. (I was born into a much freer, exuberant Scandinavian family full of educated, high achieving women who were also wise enough to know (1) they wanted children and (2) the time to have them was when they were young.)
I enjoyed this book and felt that it allowed me some foresight into the patience that should come with a planned pregnancy. I'm in my late 20s, have been trying to concieve with my husband for over a year with no luck and have been distraught over what is wrong with me. All of my doctors state that I'm fully capable of bearing a child, so, why the hesitation on my body's pary? After I read this book, I felt much more at ease. It made me realize that the whole experience is something that millions of women go through and that when you try to plan your life, things aren't always on target. With life, you've gotta roll with everything and know that good things will come in due time.
I thought I was going to love this book. It did make me laugh many times, and the writing itself is excellent. But after a while, the author's incredible, abject self-absorption really started to wear on me. The way she treated her husband was absolutely objectionable; at many points in reading the book, I found myself marveling that they are apparently still together.
Like some other reviewers, I also found it offensive that she approached adoption as an option that was at best a distant second to bearing her own child, and something that can be pursued (and discontinued) at whim rather than with serious commitment. (This is offensive to me on a personal level; I have had one child who died at birth, and I don't know if we can have another child who will be healthy. I would love, love, love to be able to afford adoption! I just want to be a mom to a living child! Reading about someone just throwing away an opportunity like that really gets under my skin.) Beyond that personal issue, I just kept thinking, "Why not put all that money and energy toward adoption?" It doesn't make sense -- well, actually, it does. It's an issue of self-absorption and privilege. I guess the author is privileged enough to turn away adoption and just keep hammering away at IVF/etc.
WARNING, SPOILER ABOUT THE ENDING OF THE BOOK TO FOLLOW:
And finally, my last critique: The author claims not to support the idea/cliche that "once you stop trying, you get pregnant naturally," and yet that's exactly what happens to her. The resolution to all the madness throughout the entire book is that she gets pregnant naturally and has a beautiful baby girl, finally, at long last. And...The End. But what would have happened if Daisy had not been conceived and born? Would Peggy Orenstein still be a bossy, manipulative, lying, self-absorbed maniac, still trying to get pregnant by any means necessary? It felt like there was absolutely no growth. She just blazed around like a tornado for six years, abusing her husband and her body and the people who tried to help her achieve her goal of motherhood (scratch that: her goal of pregnancy), and then suddenly, unexpectedly, she was handed this gift -- a healthy child of her own.
I guess I read this book hoping for a view into what happens if you find out that you *can't* bear a healthy child. What then? How do you live with it? How do you move forward? Those questions are completely unanswered by this memoir.
I am so grateful to Peggy Orenstein for writing this book. It's the first memoir about infertility I've read that truly captured my experience. Orenstein's humor and unsparing honesty made me feel like someone out there got me--and got how utterly crazy infertility can make an otherwise intelligent and competent woman. The obsessiveness, the hopelessness, the damage to one's marriage and self-esteem, the constant "what if's," the conviction that we've done everything wrong--she gets it. What's more, she can chronicle it in such a way that you're laughing out loud. I've read this book twice now, and each time it brings comfort and makes me smile. I'm sure I'll read it again before my infertility journey is over. A great book.
There were some very powerful, relatable thoughts and feelings shared by Peggy that made me feel more accepting of my own struggles with infertility. Her writing is very easy to follow and I finished the book in less than a week. The only reason it's not a 5/5 for me is completely personal, but I would have loved for her to share some guidelines or tips for coping with infertility. However, this book was written as her own bit of history, so it's still completely enjoyable.
Well written memoir. It has to be honest because the author does not portray herself in a very flattering manner. She comes across as obnoxious toward her husband. Most of the book centers on her struggles with in vitro, but then when she is finally successful there is almost nothing about THAT experience. After all of the darkness of the rest of the book, it would have been wonderful to share what must have been her joy.
Not being able to conceive is a very stressful time both physically and emotionally. As a woman who had fertility problems for 1 year, I consider myself lucky to endure this hardship for only 1 year. Now that I have a baby, I was interested in reading Orenstein's book to see the similarities. My conclusion on this book is this: IF you are having any infertility problems and need someone's story to relate to, read with this WARNING: this story is DEPRESSING. Orenstein's experiences are really depressing and overwhelming. While I can relate with the hormones and miscarriages and horrific things that happen to her, she whines constantly and never looks at any of the situations with optimism. I felt her negativity was something she thrived on. Instead of being thankful for making it through particular situations, she spirals deeper into self-absorption. As I was reading this, I was thinking "This story is making ME stressed out and depressed." Not exactly a good place to be if indeed you are already in the throws of fertility issues. I actually bought this book for my friend who is having infertility issues, hoping it would help her (keep in mind, I had just started reading it) and after a few chapters, I called my friend and told her to STOP reading it for fear it would upset her. She informed me she HAD indeed stopped reading it b/c she couldn't stand the negativity. I applaud Orenstein for writing the book and sharing her story, as I'm sure some people will find solace in it, however, if you're looking for a 'self-help' book for your infertility, think twice before reading this book. There are other books out there that are much more sympathetic to your situation. Again, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! And one last thought...IF Orenstein believes stress has nothing to do with conception, how do you explain her rollercoaster ride to eventually conceive Daisy after doctors told her she'd never be able to and she went the adoption route????