Monday, October 29, 2007

Barren Bitches Book Brigade -- Happiness Sold Separately

Lolly Winston was a new author for me. I enjoyed Happiness Sold Separately, it was a quick easy read with characters I could certainly relate to. I did have a little trouble relating to Gina and her son Toby, but perhaps this is because I so strongly connected with Elinor. So Ladies, here is my perspective on some of these questions. If this lovely book club intrigues you then ... 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: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

In the beginning of Chapter 4, Elinor finds it difficult to look at a newborn and its mother in the seat next to her. She says she isn't so much sad that she can't have a baby of her own but that she can't give her husband a child. Do you find your infertility more painful because of your desire to experience pregnancy and childbirth or because of your desire to see your spouse as a father?

I have been fortunate enough to experience pregnancy and childbirth, but I do long deeply to experience it again. My grief over my secondary infertility is definitely centered on my pain in being unable to give my husband more children. Part of what brought us together as a couple was our simple desires for home and family. I think knowing what we created together in J makes it even more painful. I think my feelings are also exacerbated by the fact that the only problems we can find are with me; all his tests are good. So I can easily place it all on my shoulders. Which is ironic, because my beautiful husband says that just having me and J is enough for him. He is a wonderful, loving father.

Elinor finally finds out there's a reason for her pregnancy problems, "a balanced translocation," and finds "there's solace in learning that something is tangibly wrong." How does (or would) a definitive, action-able diagnosis affect your ability to adjust or come to terms with your infertility? How would it affect your emotional response? Would it provide some closure? Alternatively, if you're in the unexplained category how does that ambiguity affect your decision-making and desire to keep trying?

The sadness in not having another child, especially one close in age to J, would not be different if I had a diagnosis (I am indeed one of the retched "unexplained"). However, I do think it would be much easier to cope and make decisions regarding treatment if we had a diagnosis. As a potential age-related, decreased ovarian reserve category member, it is difficult to decide how far to go and when to stop. Since expenses also are a factor in our decision-making process, it would help to have more concrete picture of the situation. I know that somewhere in there there must be a couple decent eggs left. But will I ever see them? Will IVF coax them out? Or will we just flush all our money down the drain? And will I ever get to spend a month without wondering if this could be THE ONE?

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?

I thought about my biological clock while pursuing my professional degree; I didn't want to ignore it. But fate worked things out in such a way that my husband and I couldn't manage to just be poor and in school together. So we alternately worked and went to school. That made us older by the time I felt we could possibly consider children. Then it took almost a year to conceive J (which I know they say can be normal, but I swear it was a harbinger of things to come). While we were trying I did focus on my career. Then once I had J, I abandoned my profession to stay home and support DH's pursuit of career. Now I'm neglecting my career in my pursuit of more children. Once I knew I was facing IF, I dropped any consideration of returning to work and threw myself into procreation. I often wonder if I'm so engrossed in this quest that I'm neglecting my husband and son.

I pay attention to IF. Sometimes I pay attention to my son. When he is around I briefly pay attention to my husband. I've stopped paying attention to a career I pursued (and paid for) for seven years. Am I paying attention now to the things I should be paying attention to now? I don't think so.

Hope you enjoyed this discussion of the book. 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: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

13 comments:

Fertilize Me said...

Cool responses about your biological clock and diagnosis.

Deb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, especially number 3. I found I had difficulty admitting that certain things have taken over when they shouldn't.

Samantha said...

Hindsight always allows you to know how you should have focused your attentions. Don't be too hard on yourself for the choices you made. I feel like Elinor had a lot of difficulty in this regard.

As someone who may not ever have a biological child, I harbor some jealousy towards those with secondary infertility. But I think it would also be extremely frustrating to know that it worked once, so what's going on now? It would be hard to figure out how to stop or what steps to take. I felt in the book that the author may have decided to throw in the diagnosis of balanced translocation just to soften the ending and make things a little easier for Elinor, to make her path a little clearer.

Ms. Planner said...

It was such a joy to read your candid comments about the book and how parts of it relate to your life.

I have to say that you (and a few other bloggers) have really encouraged me to better understand secondary infertility.

I also loved your thoughts about life choices and pursuing a career. There are some careers, which require post-graduate investments that don't just make it easy for couples to pursue these career paths and have families early. We are in that boat and while I wish there were solutions, I don't ever expect there will be any. The best we can hope for is a little compassion. It makes my blood boil when I hear women say, "well, I had my babies early..." Yeah, and the OB who delivered your babies had to endure so much that there was very little way that he/she could have supported a family when he/she was young like you.

Mommy Someday said...

DH and I were in a similar situation as your #3. School, career, etc. = TTC when older. It is difficult to make these decisions and choices. Thanks for sharing!

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

"I do think it would be much easier to cope and make decisions regarding treatment if we had a diagnosis." I couldn't agree with you more. Being one of the "unexplained" Ifers is just so hard at times. Great responses! I don't have children, so I enjoyed reading your perspective on the novel and questions.

Lori said...

For me, behind the physical "why" was a huge cosmic "why." WHY CAN WE NOT PROCREATE!? Letting go of that was the last part in grieving/healing from IF.

I wonder if ANYONE thinks she's paying attention to what she should be right now. Thanks for you honesty in your last answer.

Your husband sounds wonderful.

The Dunn Family said...

Thanks for the honesty if your answers. I think it's very frustrating to feel like we have to choose when so many other woman can have families AND careers AND friendships AND hobbies. Why for people with IF does it have to be an OR?

Now that we have children I guess I'm technically dealing with secondary infertility. I can understand how it must be hard, because I personally don't feel like I generally "fit in" with the primaries. Kinda like the step sister, I understand, but I at least got to the end result, so I don't "really" belong.

I wish you so much luck on your journey, wherever it takes you.

The Town Criers said...

Your last answer resonated with me. It is so hard to balance work and marriage. Then, it's extremely difficult to balance work, marriage, and a child. But throw IF into the mix with a child and marriage and work? And it becomes impossible. It is literally a juggling act.

Bean said...

I enjoyed reading your responses, particularly regarding the juggling act -- as Mel put it so well. In my own post I commented that we try not let this stuff affect our daughter and we pour most of our energy into her. But I should have added -- the energy we have left. I KNOW that without dealing with IF, I'd have a lot more energy and patience for her. Oh, and of course if I didn't have to put so much energy into work.
Also, thanks for stopping by and for the b-day wishes.

deanna said...

Your third response was really struck a chord with me. It's always the timing that comes back to haunt me, too. We waited to start TTC later than many couples we knew, and I sometimes torture myself about it. If we had started earlier, we wouldn't be feeling a fertility time crunch now. But, then again, our early-to-mid twenties were financially difficult and I can't honestly say it would have been a good idea to have children at that time.

The going round-and-round thing is just one more unprofitable exercise that makes IF so unbearable........

Ms. Infertile said...

"And will I ever get to spend a month without wondering if this could be THE ONE?"
I think that if there is even the slighest chance of success it is near impossible to stop wondering. It's an awful feeling and an awful way to have to live.

Thanks for your responses - I enjoyed reading them.

KarenO said...

Hmmm I think I should hop onto this Barren Bitches Book Bus too, the more I read about the books the more I want to be part of the discussions!