I have read a few infertility books by now; with different stories and different endings. “The Pursuit of Motherhood” by Jessica Hepburn is definitely my favourite. I have to thank Barren Betty for this wonderful read!
Jessica tells her infertility story with honesty and humour. She has a very different life from mine, with an exciting job running a London theatre. But, despite the differences, I could find myself in so much of what she has been going through: juggling work and treatments, trying to hide you are going through IVF at work, putting on a brave face to go to a party where you’ll be the only childless couple, the decisions that need to be made, the hope, the heartbreaks, the moments of complete love, those in which nothing works, and, as beautifully described, hearing friend’s announcements:
‘no…but I do have some news…
She’s hesitant, and I feel a familiar crumpling in my chest as I realise what she’s about to say. Why isn’t there a word in the English language for feeling happy for someone and sad for yourself at the same time?’
[For the record, there is no such word in many other languages either…]
What I loved the most in this book is that nothing in it made me feel bad about myself. There is no story of a girl getting pregnant after years of treatments just on the day she realised the sun was shining. There is no miracle after giving up chocolate, alcohol, cheese, peanut butter, becoming a yoga master, a vegetarian, training for a marathon, giving up or whatever else… there is nothing in this book that made me think that it’s my fault I am not a mum. It’s a real and honest story with no indirect messages of what should or should not be done during IVF.
This book is also great at indirectly showing the business behind IVF. A huge amount of money is spent by tons of couple to try and have babies. But we still find ourselves asked to get ready to have a procedure done in the corridor or in tiny rooms because there are too many patients. I loved that Jessica dared to speak about this because very often the pretty and calm-looking websites of IVF clinics do not reflect the mess and amount of people inside.
Jessica has tried IVF a few times – some may think too many – and I find that her book is great at showing why we go on trying so many times. Every time you go to a new clinic, there are new doctors, new methods and new hope. When do you say stop? I know it’ll be hard for me to stop but after reading this book I know I am not the only one.