By Lisa Manterfield
I’m going to say this up front so I can get it out of the way: I really didn’t want to read any more books about infertility.
Like all of us here, I’ve worked hard to heal the wounds of my own infertility so that I can step out into a world full of mothers and children and not feel as if I’m about to suffocate. Reading other people’s stories played a big part in my recovery. I’ve done the work and the result it that life is pretty good these days, even without children of my own.
I am also aware that the hurt has not really gone away. It lurks under the surface, moving deeper year-by-year, granted, but always there. I’ve avoided reading more infertility stories because I don’t want to go back to those treatment rooms, those times of frustration, and that deep, dark sadness of being unable to create life. Even writing this last sentence reminds me of where I once was. So you see where my reluctance comes from.
But recently, Pamela at Silent Sorority asked me to participate in a blog tour for Julia Leigh’s memoir, Avalanche, A Love Story. Of course, I agreed. While our “sorority” may have been silent when Pamela wrote her book almost a decade ago, this is no longer the case. (You can see the growing list of bloggers who agreed to participate in this post.) We are vocal, we are sharing our stories, and we are supporting one another.
Despite our willingness to speak and write, there remains much ignorance and misunderstanding surrounding infertility. It’s what prompts pitying looks from people who ask if we have kids, and it prompts all the platitudes and hurtful comments we hear, falsely labeled as “helpful.” My personal favorites are “Just do IVF”, “Why didn’t you just adopt?”, and “You can’t have really wanted kids if you gave up so easily.”
Which is why we need to support authors like Leigh, who are willing to risk (and receive) judgement and pity because they crossed their own lines in the pursuit of motherhood. It’s important that women facing the possibility of fertility treatments find honest accounts of what it really entails (even if they choose to believe it will be different for them!) And it’s important that others who have no experience with infertility get to read a compelling story and perhaps gain insight, understand, and most of all, compassion. It’s why I sucked it up and bought and read Avalanche: A Love Story.
The book is short (I read it in two sittings) but powerful and beautifully written. It did indeed take me back to many of my own experiences, and at times I found myself wanting to yank her aside and impart my hard-earned wisdom on her. So many times I begged her not to make the choices she was about to make, but understanding how quickly logic and decision-making skills warp in the infertility world. By the end, I found myself connected to another infertility sister and understanding myself a little more.
I’ll be posting my full review on Amazon. If you decide to read the book, I encourage you to also leave a review. Word-of mouth is still the number one way most of us find books, and second only to buying books, reviews are the best way to support an author.
Pamela is hosting a blog tour for Julia’s book today. You’ll find a list of the participating bloggers here. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit some of them and perhaps find some new voices.
P.S. I know this post has replaced the usual Whiny Wednesday spot, but I think there’s enough in here to prompt a little outrage. Whiny Wednesday will be back next week.