Sunday, September 16, 2007

Barren Bitches Book Brigade -- Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

First, thanks to the fantabulous Mel for doing all the work in putting this tour together. You are the best!

Second, I just would like to say how much I enjoyed the book as a whole. It had been awhile since I had read much fiction, and my first time joining the book brigade. And I was a little nervous adding more IF/loss elements in my life. But this book covered aspects of loss I had not personally experienced, along with so many other important areas, especially relationships (spousal, with a child, friends etc.) I appreciated the quick pace of the writing and the depth of honest emotions discussed.

On to the discussion, but don't forget to hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston (with author participation!).


On page 65, Waldman writes, "She (Mindy) thinks we are members of the same sorority of pain, that we are sisters in grief… But when I'm with Mindy I'm afraid every minute that I'll that I will tell her she has no fucking idea that a curl of flesh and DNA floating in a toilet bowl full of blood is not a baby, and that the remnants of pregnancy running down your legs is nothing, nothing like holding your dead child in your arms…" React to this statement as a woman who has lost a baby through miscarriage. In addition, can a similar sentiment apply to women experiencing different levels of infertility? Is one person's "pain" moot in comparison to another's if one has only failed with IUI versus one who has failed with multiple IVFs?

I knew this topic would be of interest to many, and several of the questions touch on this dilemma. My personal perspective is somewhat similar to Emilia’s, that there is a difference between the loss of an early pregnancy vs. the loss of a born child. Perhaps that seems harsh, but I do feel that the loss of a child is somehow profound. I do NOT however feel that difference inherently means one individual’s pain is “greater” than another. I have experienced both a chemical pregnancy and a missed miscarriage. At that point in my life, I recall being very frustrated that the OB/GYN who called with my results concerning the chemical would not call it a miscarriage. I felt it was very unfair to make this distinction – to me, I had lost a baby. But now I do have a son, and if I lost him at any point after his birth, I know that loss would scar me in an even deeper way than the lost possibility of a child. After my missed miscarriage due to blighted ovum, I was deeply saddened, more so than the chemical, in part because at the time of the chemical I was not diagnosed as infertile. With the miscarriage I had held hope at bay and had early signs that it would be unsuccessful.

For me, the longer a pregnancy goes forward in good health, the more significant the loss can become for that person. You are so much closer to that desired outcome, there is more invested, physically and emotionally. I still grieve my miscarriages. But at least for me, it is grieving the loss of the possibility of that child. If my losses had been in later stages of pregnancy, I believe that my pain would have been greater. Maybe it is the scientist in me, but as a fetus approaches viability, that would deepen the impact for me.

Everyone experiences grief differently. And I would never discount the pain someone feels over the loss of an early pregnancy. I certainly wouldn’t presume that loss to be “less.” But for me personally, it would be much harder to lose a living, born child. I think the same is true of infertility treatment. The pain and disappointment of a failed IUI is not necessarily “less” than that of IVF. But in each successive treatment cycle there can be less hope of a positive outcome. And that circumstance does add intensity at each increasing level of treatment.

Throughout the novel, Emilia feels she was drawn to her husband, Jack, through the concept of bashert – that it was a magical connection or fate that had drawn them together. Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe there is one soul mate for each of us?

The question I posed was similar to this. I was intrigued by the concept of bashert (see this site for more details). My DH is Jewish, and has often remarked that we are soul mates – but he has never talked about bashert. I certainly do not believe our connection is “magic” per se, but I have come to believe it is incredibly special. In many ways, I think he was drawn to me with a much greater intensity than I was to him when we first met. I was much more hesitant to consider him “the one.” But his commitment to our connection altered that view. We were essentially inseparable quite quickly after we began dating in college. So while it was not love at first sight for me, I do think we were drawn together for a reason. We complement one another on so many levels. There is often unspoken understanding. Our connection does not have the degree of fire often referred to between Jack and Emilia, but it has an amazing level of strength and power.

Do you think that Jack was supportive of Emilia's task for watching William on Wednesday? Should Emilia have to maintain the same demands/lifestyle standards has Carolyn placed upon William's nanny?

I do not have any first-hand experience with stepfamilies, however one of my siblings is a stepparent who has faced some similar issues. In witnessing that experience I gained an appreciation of the complexities of parenting within stepfamilies and blended families, especially ones in which all parties do not share the same perspective. I think that it was admirable for Jack to support Emilia having some primary responsibility for William, by caring for him on Wednesdays. But I do not think he made enough effort to create an environment where this experience would be successful. It was sabotaged from the get go.

It was certainly unacceptable to expect Emilia to adhere to the standards Carolyn established. While Carolyn was William’s mother and should have control over vital elements of his life, her micromanagement of every aspect was detrimental for everyone: William, Jack, Emilia and even Carolyn herself. Having acquiesced to Carolyn’s orders for so many years, it seemed Jack was incapable of challenging her demands, even if William and Emilia’s well being and relationship required it. As the individual with a previous relationship, the burden of communication fell to Jack. Yet he failed repeatedly to insist that his new wife be given, at the very least, a minor role in managing William’s life.

Now don't forget to hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston (with author participation!).

12 comments:

Deb said...

I agree that the standards for Emilia's interactions with William were a bit extreme. I was left wondering if part of the concern was that William could be such a difficult child that Carolyn thought a break in routine and rules would lead to bigger issues. I found his character very interesting.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book and your experiences.

Lori said...

Jack was a bit of a wuss in standing up for Emilia with Caroline about William, wasn't he?

Such complicated dynamics.

Thanks for the "bashert" link. Does this term refer only to mates, or to destiny/fate in general?

If the latter I wonder if my children and I are bashert. It seems we were destined to be together, despite our circuitous route in finding each other.

Ayelet said...

People often talk of b'shert or bashert as being "meant to be" in any circumstances. So if, for example, you miss the bus, but on the next one you catch you find your long lost best friend from third grade, you can say that it was bashert!

Thanks so much for reading, guys. This is pretty amazing experience for me!

Kristen said...

That is such a sweet story about you and your husband. Usually you hear about the woman falling for the man and thinking he is the one and your DH has now twisted that around. I love it!

I agree that Carolyn's micromanagement hurts everyone. I understand she is William's mother but she made it that much harder by creating tension between William and Emilia. It almost seemed as though she pitted them against each other at times. Jack should have taken more of a stand but it seemed he accepted his place as peacemaker.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The Town Criers said...

I love these lines: "We complement one another on so many levels. There is often unspoken understanding. Our connection does not have the degree of fire often referred to between Jack and Emilia, but it has an amazing level of strength and power."

Drowned Girl said...

I liked your answers.

amy said...

I think the "amazing level of strength and power" is what carries you through because a blazing hot fire is difficult to sustain long term....although there can be periods of heat and cooling.

Amy
dancingwithinfertility.blogspot.com

Ms. Planner said...

I really enjoyed reading your answer regarding the levels of grief and loss. I completely agree with you, however, it was interesting how you articulated your reasoning (sooo much better than I did).

I hope I am not breaking book club etiquette by commenting outside of my group. But I read your blog anyway and enjoyed what you had to say/write.

chicklet said...

I haven't read the book so I can't really contribute but i dont' think I mentioned I love your new layout - very cool.

Jenna said...

Great insight. Some of this I hadn't considered, or didn't want to agree with. You've done a great job of expressing your opinions though, and so I have to appreciate and respect that.

Thanks for giving me somethings to think about.

http://epilogue.inconceivablejourney.com

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

Ok you're totally right about the HCG. I asked my husband (the mech engineer major/math minor) and HE explained my math was faulty.

This is why I did NOT pursue much math in my past. Duh.

THANK YOU for commenting!!!! Horray for a smart blogger!

Yeah, since they only told me about 8 fertilizing, I'm assuming that's typical. I just would have LIKED to know I had 3 fertilize that were genetically abnormal! You know? If I ever go again, I'll ask them upfront.

Malky B. said...

As someone whose had both a full term stillborn and a 7 week miscarriage, I can say that the loses are very very different. yes, in both cases the promise of a baby was taken away from you - in that way any pregnancy loss is identical. Bu to go through an entire pregnancy and to come out with nothing to show for it is so much worse than being pregnant for a few weeks and then losing it. You are so much more attached to the baby and have suffered thrpugh 9 months of aches and pains and sleep lose you jut can't compare the two.