Barren Bitches Book Brigade: "Waiting for Daisy"

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. This book club is open to everyone in the community so you can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Kid by Dan Savage.


1. We have all had our own experience with infertility. Whether it was from IVF, IUI, miscarriages, or other forms we have all been there. How do you feel Peggy’s story compares to yours?

What really hit me about this book was a huge realization on my part, completely unrelated to my own IF struggles.

My mom was infertile. She had three miscarriages and a stillbirth before she adopted my brother. Nine years later, she had me.

I never thought of her as infertile. Through this whole process, that never occured to me. She had me when she was 39. I always just thought that if you conceived but didn’t give birth you were just unlucky.

It’s not unlucky. It’s infertile. And I just now get it.

2. Peggy talks about ‘scheduling to have a baby,’ making sure her life goals had been met and it was the right time to start her family. Now in hindsight do you yourself regret putting a timetable on when you would start your family? Would you have ‘scheduled’ your life differently?

We started trying to have a baby early in our marriage, so I don’t feel badly on that count. But there is a huge part of me that wants to walk up to the twentysomething women I work with and try and counsel them to get married and procreate.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and couldn’t wait for my next birthday. Everyone always tells you as a kid not to wish your life away, but the words fall on deaf ears when you’re young. I’m sure my words would sound as awkward to someone trying enjoy adulthood before settling down and getting married.

3. One page 152, the author writes of considering her 3 miscarriages differently – as two miscarriages and one molar pregnancy. She explains that she does that because she doesn’t blame herself for the molar pregnancy (caused by sperm abnormality) like she blames herself and feels guilty for the other miscarriages. In your fertility life, do you categorize different incidences like she does? In your heart, do you feel more or less guilty depending upon whose “fault” it was? Is that a way of coping?

This issue has hit me full on in the last six months. We use to be treating male factor infertility, which was bad in all the ways that IVF is bad, but at least it wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could do to fix it.

(Of course, there was nothing he could do to fix it either, but it was still his fault.)

Then SA revealed improved sperm. All of a sudden the weight of the world shifted back onto my shoulders. It made a huge difference, and I can say without a doubt that infertility affects me more profoundly knowing that I’m at least part of the reason we cannot conceive.

4. In the epilogue, Orenstein struggles with what might be called the mythology of infertility: the messages and assumptions that it’s all worth it in the end; that it’s a matter of luck (the chapter’s title is “Meditations on Luck”); that everything has worked out for the best; that adoption might be an emotional/spiritual cure for infertility; that some couples may be too quick to seek medical assistance; that she may have waited too long to begin trying to conceive; and, as another woman told her earlier in her journey, that “the pain goes away.” Her husband warns her to not become a revisionist, but she acknowledges that becoming a mother has been a “surprisingly redemptive” experience and seems to not entirely reject the above messages. Describe how you feel about the presence of this mythology, both in Orenstein’s epilogue and in your own life. How has it affected the way you tell your story, on your blog or elsewhere, and how you interpret others’ stories? To what extent have you revised or even rewritten your own story of infertility? Is it inevitable, perhaps even necessary, to do so?

I think for me a lot of it comes down to statistics, and being on the losing side of very favorable statistics.

Hindsight is 20/20. I know that if we conceive and have a beautiful baby, I will become a revisionist that talks about how, silly me, almost 50 percent of IVF cycles result in a baby and how it was only a matter of time for us.

But right now, I’m absorbed in the fact that I’m firmly in the 10 percent that didn’t conceive in one year, in the minority for whom both their first IUI and IVF cycles were canceled. And right now, the statistics don’t look so good.

And I know that if we have a baby, I’ll look back and say I was worried for nothing, that it just took a little help, that it’s all better.

But right now, it still sucks.

5. Were others as selfishly frustrated as I that what we all consider to be the universal “assvice” – “Go away on a romantic vacation and it will happen!” – turned out to solve Peggy’s problem? Has this outcome put more pressure on other readers’ non-treatment cycles?

I wasn’t selfishly frustrated as much as overwhelmed by the influence that IF has on someone’s life.

This is someone who conceived and delivered a child without medical intervention. That kind of flies in the face of most of the “infertility” treatment stories we hear of, and yet, I don’t think anyone of us would want to vote Peggy out of the IF club. Her reactions to it were invariably those of an IFer. Once IFfy, always IFfy.

6. When I read how if one had asked the author 10 years earlier, she would have said that she didn’t even want children, I felt better. I guess deep down I always knew that I wanted children, but having had a severely mentally and physically handicapped sister, I was scared. It was comforting to read about another woman’s ambivalence and feelings of guilt. When I found out that I was losing ovarian function I could not believe that there was a strong possibility that I would never have a biological child. That spurred in me a determination I had not had in many years. Have you ever felt ambivalence towards parenthood prior to receiving your diagnosis?

Yes, prior, during and currently. Probably even post. Just this last weekend when we went of a spur of the moment road trip, it hit me: we will not be doing this when we have children. We have been trying to conceive for years and I can’t help but think that although I have always wanted children and look forward to being a SAHM someday if possible, there are aspects of my life that will cease to exist when our children are born.

7. When you received your IF diagnosis, did you feel as if you were being punished or it was simply a case of dumb luck?

My honest impressions? Man it sucks to be on the losing end of excellent odds for the first time in my life.

8. Orenstein’s friend, Larry, says on p. 47, “you can only feel the loss of something you’ve had.” Orenstein gives her thoughts on the matter on page 50. Do you agree with Larry or Peggy?

I don’t agree that you can’t feel the loss of something you’ve never had. If we didn’t have the ability to yearn for things we do not have, no man would ever want a home, money, etc.

That said, is is easier to live without things you’ve never experienced? I think so. I’ve always wondered if SIF is harder than PIF for this reason.

9. “I felt like the luckiest unlucky woman in the world” (p. 57). This quote really struck me. Do we naturally grasp for the silver lining in things? Do we always have to convince ourselves that something makes us lucky in order to keep going through the difficulties of life?

Life isn’t black and white. I hate infertility, but if I had to pick some bitches to go through it with, I’d pick you guys. πŸ™‚

I once read a blog post about a woman who sat next to an adorable old lady on a long flight. The woman was pregnant and the alleged grandmother was incredibly interested. After a long while, it was discovered the old woman didn’t have children or grandkids because she and her husband hadn’t been able to have children.

Which is a long way to say, infertility sucks, but thank God I live in a time where there is treatment. For a much better post on the subject, visit Jenny.

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11 responses to “Barren Bitches Book Brigade: "Waiting for Daisy"

  1. It’s interesting what you say about question 3 – about feeling the impact more when the “blame” shifts to you (for want of a more accurate way of putting it). I can identify with this. Although I have felt it equalises our relationship a little, which is… nice (for want of a more accurate way of putting it).

    Bea

  2. oh wow you said so much that I identify with, first this morning we were in the car talking about this IVF and what if it doesn’t work and I was crying…really crying. Mr Kir asked why and I said even if all this time it was your sperm that was the problem, ICSI fixed it, we made 13 really nice embryos and MY stupid body is the one that probobly rejected them (we don’t know the outcome of this IVF yet, but I feel so crampy etc that it’s hard not to feel defeat) and for me I am feeling like such a failure at this TTC thing, like the blame really is MINE.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

  3. The Town Criers

    Ha–I hadn’t really thought about that: how I’m on the losing end of some pretty favourable odds. I mean, who would have ever thought I’d fall into the wrong side when the right side is so large?

    I really liked your ideas of revision and how you can’t help but say, “silly me, almost 50 percent of IVF cycles result in a baby and how it was only a matter of time for us.” Even more so, I found your thoughts on the shift of “blame” extremely profound in light of a new diagnosis.

  4. “And I know that if we have a baby, I’ll look back and say I was worried for nothing, that it just took a little help, that it’s all better.”

    I can tell you now that that is not 100% true. You will think that it was all worth it, but you will never consider what it took to get you pregnant “a little help”. Even having my son, I still look at IF as an enemy I’ve had to do battle with. And even when the day comes that I am no longer fighting to get pregnant, I will still remember what I had to go through to get there and how hugely IF affected all aspects of my life.

  5. One thing about your responses that really hit a chord with me was how your feelings about infertility changed after you became more “at fault”. Our diagnosis was MFI. It was severe enough that no one spent a lot of time tinkering with me and, of course, the IVF we needed would handle my hormone level issues. However, I spend time reminding my husband that my hormones WERE wonky and I DO have fibroids because I hate how he holds himself wholly responsible for our infertility. Even though he mostly is.

  6. “It reminds me of when I was a kid and couldn’t wait for my next birthday. Everyone always tells you as a kid not to wish your life away, but the words fall on deaf ears when you’re young. I’m sure my words would sound as awkward to someone trying enjoy adulthood before settling down and getting married.”

    Perfectly said!

  7. I couldn’t agree more–I can’t imagine how I would feel if we lived in a time when treatment wasn’t readily available and the online infertile blogging community wasn’t there, allowing us to prop each other up through our struggles.

  8. Your answer to #6 resonated with me. Even though I too really want to have children, I know that gaining them will change my life profoundly, and I won’t always like some of those ways. I thought about this while waiting at the airport watching parents trying to placate their kids during a 3 hour delay. I was glad I didn’t have to do that. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to have children, just that I’m not looking forward to being stuck in an airport!

  9. Your answer to #4 resonated with me, because I also feel on the losing side of statistics, and that has affected my choices for treatment. Until I can get into a more positive mindset and see the glass as at least half-full for our odds of IVF success, I just can’t try it; I feel I’d be setting myself up for failure at this time.

  10. I enjoyed your take on Q3.

    I noticed that people tend to assume IF is due to the woman. I never figured out why this is the case.

  11. I hear you on the whole ‘being on the losing side of statistics’. It was fairly easy for me to deal with failed cycles until we moved to donor eggs. That’s supposed to work, right? For 65-75% on first time? Man, did I ever feel like a loser.

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