Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Barren Bitches Book Tour #7: Happiness Sold Separately, by Lolly Winston (Group B)

First of all, let me say that I’m sorry I’m late with this post. Secondly, I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a Saturday and finished it by Sunday. Years ago it would have seemed completely normal for me to read a book in a weekend, but nowadays its very unusual! Obviously, the topic was interesting to me, but I found the characters intriguing and overall I found it a great read. Here goes…

Both Elinor in this book and Amelia in Love and other Impossible Pursuits are uber-sarcastic. Come to think of it, Peggy Orenstein (Waiting for Daisy) is, too. Do you think the experience of being infertile makes one sarcastic, or do you think such high levels of sarcasm lower one's infertility? Obviously, I say this tongue-in-cheek, for the latter scenario is ridiculous. But as for the former, do you find yourself more sarcastic as a way of dealing with IF? If so, how does sarcasm help?

I laughed out loud when I read this question. I’ve always considered myself pretty sarcastic (a trait my husband doesn’t exactly enjoy), so I wouldn’t say that being infertile made me sarcastic. I would say that dealing with infertility has made me somewhat bitter and, therefore, more impatient with people and situations. So I would say that my sarcasm comes out more often. I realize that sarcasm can border on mean, even rude, but I’ve always thought of it as being on one end of the humor spectrum. So, I guess for me, sarcasm is like comic relief. And we all know that when dealing with IF any kind of relief is helpful.

At the very close of the book, having discovered her balanced translocation, Elinor likens herself to a screwed up silverware drawer. "Yet there's solace in discovering something is tangibly wrong. A diagnosis rather than you're old" Have you ever felt like this? Do you have a diagnosis for your fertility problems? Was it a relief? If your problem is unidentified, or age is against you, do you wish that you did have a reason? 5. At the very close of the book, having discovered her balanced translocation, Elinor likens herself to a screwed up silverware drawer. "Yet there's solace in discovering something is tangibly wrong. A diagnosis rather than you're old" Have you ever felt like this? Do you have a diagnosis for your fertility problems? Was it a relief? If your problem is unidentified, or age is against you, do you wish that you did have a reason?

This is an interesting question for me right now. When I was trying to get pregnant the first time, I didn’t get my period for several months, then had a miscarriage, then had odd cycles. My OBGYN was pretty relaxed and put me on Clomid and progesterone and I got and stayed pregnant. So, when we started trying again I expected we might have some trouble, but nothing that a few minor drugs couldn’t cure. Well, after a year and a half of trying and 2 different doctors, I finally got a referral to an RE and found out that my tubes were blocked up with adhesions. The RE did what he could with the adhesions and then we went straight to IVF. Well, after 4 IVF cycles and no baby or sustained pregnancy I started to wonder if something else wasn’t going on. While I had a tangible diagnosis, in my gut I knew that there was something else going on. My RE refused to do any additional testing, he was convinced my only problem had to do with my tubes. Well, here I am 6 months later with a new RE, who ran new tests and actually discovered some things that are likely contributing to our problems. I can’t begin to express how relieved I actually was to have an additional diagnosis that actually might explain what’s been going on. In general, I’m not a person who likes the unknown. I want to know what’s facing me so I can figure out a way to deal with it. I feel for anyone dealing with undiagnosed infertility, I know it would completely frustrate me.

Elinor's thought on page 47 really struck me: "When Elinor was paying attention to her career, she should have been paying attention to her biological clock. When she was paying attention to her biological clock, she should have been paying attention to her husband." It made me wonder: Am I paying attention now to the things I should be paying attention to now? Are you?

Ugh, this question brings up my one complaint about the book. I’m sure that there are many women who put childrearing on hold because of their careers or for other reasons, but I get frustrated that in so much of the public discussion on infertility women get blamed and are viewed as selfish for focusing on other things, like careers. I was bit disappointed when I started to read the book that once again, the focus was on a women who “made the mistake” of waiting too long.

As for what we pay attention to. There’s no doubt that this stuff has been hard on our marriage. Between dealing with IF and having a 3, then 4, then 5 year old daughter through all this we definitely don’t spend enough time focusing on each other as a husband and a wife. We have tried very hard not to let this affect our daughter and most of our energy and attention goes to her. Having said that, we have pulled together to deal with the IF and adoption stuff and I think in the long run our marriage will be stronger for all this, but it’s been a hard couple of years.

On pages 51-52, Elinor discusses her abortion experience. She says choices are a fairytale and that she had always been pro-choice but now realized she had no choice. Has your stance on abortion changed at all since you began suffering from infertility?

Not one bit, and I didn’t expect it to. I’ve always been strongly pro-choice (my first paying job after college was at a pro-choice advocacy organization) and I remain so today. In fact, given the lengths and manipulations we’ve gone through to get pregnant, if possible, I think I’m even more pro-choice than I was in the past. Ms. Planner said it so well that I’ll quote her “I remain steadfast that no one has the right to tell anyone what they should so with their body. The way my logic sees it, you if allow one to meddle in a women’s right to end her pregnancy, then we also have to put up with meddling in all sorts of other reproductive capacities, from donor eggs, freezing, donor sperm, surrogates, etc. And that kind of meddling, in my opinion, will lead us back to the dark ages.”

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Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about Happiness Sold Separately? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Brigade Tour by visiting the master list here http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2007/10/read-along-barren-bitches-book-brigade.html and here this post http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2007/10/read-along-barren-bitches-book-brigrade.html and scroll down a bit). All you need is a book and blog.

5 comments:

Samantha said...

I agree, it is a relief to know you have a specific diagnosis, but then still a terrible frustration to not still have unsuccessful treatments.

Deb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Good answers.

deanna said...

I, too, got really frustrated with the constant allusions to Elinor's culpability in their infertility, due to putting her career first. SO MANY people already think that most infertile women fall into this categoy and can only blame themselves for their situation. I really wish Lolly would have left all that undue guilt out of the book. She ultimately reversed it at the end, but it didn't seem like a strong enough combatant to the earlier repeated and faulty explanation.

Waiting Amy said...

As a fellow Secondary IFer -- I concur. Going through treatments with a young child further divides your attentions. I often feel that my DH and I push our relationship to the last thing. I'm glad you and your DH work so hard to keep things together.

Ms. Infertile said...

Enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book.