My response was visceral and immediate and caught me by surprise. As I read the following passage aloud to my husband I felt a sob building deep inside. Then it erupted into familiar tears. These tears, though, were tears of relief. For being accepted not judged. For being acknowledged not marginalized. For being seen as human and not as some sort of freak.
“Recently married, Reverend Beth, who was in her early thirties, was looking forward to starting a family of her own. She felt acute empathy for anybody who wanted children and could not have them easily….she had already counseled a surprising number: not just women but men, and not just people who were actively trying but older couples who had confided to her their permanent sense of loss at never having had the child they longed for. [She] knew that suffering is part of human existence.
…Infertility had always seemed to her an especially hard form of suffering to inflict.”
What stunned me upon reflection is how starved we infertiles are for
such heartfelt empathy from society at large. Here I am five years
post-treatment, grateful for the kind words of a stranger.
The passage is from the prologue of Liza Mundy’s book, Everything Conceivable. I will admit that it took me this long to crack the spine because I was afraid I’d find the accusing and unforgiving language associated with mainstream reporting on infertility. My shoulders, tense as I started reading, relaxed some as I made my way through her prologue.
Liza, a Washington Post reporter, explains that among her reasons for writing her book was trying to make sense of the complexities surrounding infertility. Reader response to an initial story she wrote on infertile couples who couldn’t afford expensive treatment revealed a deep-seated antipathy. “This was my introduction to the fact that the spectacle of someone trying to have a child can be even more inflammatory than the spectacle of someone trying not to have one.”
How well we know that, huh?
This book-related post also leads me to follow up on Lori and Niobe’s request for a look at one of my book shelves. As you’ll see there’s a mix of history, fiction, non-fiction, biography and, of course, books on infertility.
It’s hard to read the spines, but among my favorites here: The Girls in the Balcony; Undaunted Courage; Life: The Movie; The Red Tent; Somebody Told Me; Fast Food Nation; Imperial Life Inside the Emerald City; The Hypocrite in the Pouffy White Dress; and Eleanor of Aquitaine.