Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Embroidering Syringes

Welcome to another edition of the Barren B*tches Book Club Tour!! For more information on the spinning book tour or to get in on the action yourself, please click here. To check out other bloggers' responses to the book, please visit Mel's blog here.

This “cycle” of the tour we read Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl. I loved this book!! Here, the author details her IF journey, discussing some of the major issues surrounding IF treatments and elaborating upon her and her husband’s decisions. I found this book to be "laugh out loud" funny at a lot of different points. Often, I would find myself nodding in agreement or finding a point that really hit home.

I would not recommend this book as the first book to read when trying to learn about IF or IF treatments, as it does not lay out for the reader a step-by-step process, but I would certainly add it to a good-to-read list. The author tells you what her decisions were at various points along the way, but allows for differences of opinion and decisions in treatment options.

I had a different experience from the author concerning the type of clinic she went to. She went to a big clinic where she was treated as a number, whereas I went to a smaller clinic where there was a more personal touch. What was your experience? If you went to a big clinic, was it by choice? Did you feel like you still were treated as an individual? Did you have to deal with a Carol-like person? If you went to a smaller clinic, did you feel it was adequately staffed, etc. for your needs? Did you research various facilities (or did you do like me – go with the recommendation of my personal doctor)?

I believe I may have talked about this before on my blog, but I’d like to go into more detail. My clinic is one of those really large, serves tons of patients, clinics. I have never, however, felt like a number there. Maybe this is due to the fact that I’m not at the central office, but instead at one of their satellite offices? Or it could just be the staff at my clinic. Whatever the reason, I have never felt like a number and have never had a negative experience with the staff at my clinic. All the staff seem to know my name and they’re always glad I came. OK, maybe not, but they do seem to know who I am and give me a big smile and are always willing to chat a bit. I have yet to have an unpleasant conversation with anyone associated with the clinic.

I did do some cursory research of clinics in the area; this being confined to looking up clinics on the web and seeing which ones had offices near my home and my office per many IF bloggers’ recommendations. I chose my clinic because one of their doctors is married to a woman who I know. (I don’t see this doctor, but figured it was a good enough reason to choose the clinic as any).

I haven’t had to deal with an officious, totalitarian, supervising nurse at my clinic, but I should qualify that JD and I have only just started going down this road and have not gotten to “real” treatments. We’re still in the initial phases of testing, so I’m only meeting my doctor, my nurse and a few of the technicians.

Many bits of the book hit hard for me, but none more so than what may have been intended as something that happened in passing. In Chapter 6, Gary and Beth get into an argument on their way to the clinic for an egg retrieval. The argument is courtesy of the early morning, hormones, fears, a whole blend of it all. Gary calls Beth “a bitch.” Beth then writes, “He clenches the steering wheel, steeling himself for the fight he assumes will follow his calling me this second-most-prohibited of names. I remain silent, reassessing whether I really want to have kids with this name-calling douchebag” (95). Did you/have you/can you foresee getting into such a minor situation with your partner and immediately jumping to the same conclusions as Beth, that maybe where you are isn’t where you should be?

I’m glad that this incident hit home to other people. I’ve been reciting this section of the book to almost everyone I know. For me, this has happened a lot. I think minor spats can just be that, but they can also be representatives of larger problems in the relationship. A few months ago, it seemed that all there was in our relationship were these minor spats. I really did have to reassess if John Dear and I should stay married, if we could raise the family (however it occurred) that we always dreamed of having together. I think our experience with IF has forced John Dear and I to evaluate our relationship much more deeply than we might have had to if we had been able to become pregnant and have children right when we wanted to.

I also found myself nodding at a point that Beth wrote regarding how men and women approach IF differently. She quotes Alice Domar of Boston IVF’s Mind/Body Center, “‘I’d say very few of the couples I’ve seen have been in the same place at the same time,’ she says. ‘They seem to be on different planets, with the woman often ahead by about a year. Often she’s upset that he isn’t more upset, and he’s upset that she’s so upset. She typically feels that he’s holding her back; he typically feels that she’s pushing him into decisions’” (132).

I don’t think that JD and I were that far apart in terms of wanting children, but definitely have major differences in how aggressive we are in pursuing treatment. I’m all geared up to go ahead and John Dear would rather sit back and do nothing. At times, I just want to throttle JD, because he’s a lump on a log who doesn’t do anything. (See a pattern here?)

In addition to all that, who doesn’t love the phrase “name-calling douchebag”?

Did religion shape the decisions you made about treatment? And in turn, did your infertility change the way you looked at your religion?

I don’t believe that infertility has changed the way I look at my religion, but during my IF journey, I have been reading and learning more about my faith. I felt moved to become more observant in my religious practice and have been reading as much as I can (as evidenced by many of the books on my Library Thing bookshelf on my sidebar). This learning is at the same time that we are experiencing infertility, but did not come about because of infertility, i.e., I felt this pull prior to our first trying to have children.

My religion does make a big impact on my journey through infertility. I very much enjoyed reading the author’s explanations of Jewish law, as I felt the answers but did not know their explanations. For example, in Jewish families, marriage and family are of the utmost importance, but I could not have explained as Beth wrote, “I had a mounting irrational desire to be pregnant. I had taken seriously the line spoken by the rabbi who had married us: ‘May you grow into thousands of myriads.’ Those words underscore one of the primary purposes of Jewish marriage, to have children who will have children, down through the generations, with me not only as the mother of myriads but as the child of them, too. This placed pressure on me not to be the point at which my grandparents’ lines died, a generational black hole” (61).

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Mel's blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Jesters. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes (with author participation!)


Ms Heathen said...

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

I enjoyed reading your reactions to the Beth Kohl book. I really identified with Alice Domar's suggestion that the female partner is often upset that her male partner isn't more upset, while he's upset that she's so upset - this pretty much sums up Mr H and me!

I often read on other people's blogs about how infertility has brought them closer to their partner. Although I think that IF has ultimately strengthened our relationship, it's also put it under enormous strain. I think the secret is to keep talking, and trying to negotiate a way through this together - I wish you and John Dear all the very best of luck in this respect; it's not at all easy.

loribeth said...

I enjoyed your post, and especially the comments about your relationship with your dh. Yes, most of the time, I feel like this has brought us closer, but there were also times when I felt like we were living on different planets. I think our experiences are fairly typical!

Jen said...

One of these days I am going to have to do one of these book tours because I am really enjoying reading everyone else's reviews.

Ellen K. said...

Good comments. I haven't read this book but may do so, just for the "name-calling douchebag" part!

BethKohl said...

Hi. It's Beth. By the way, I mostly don't think of Gary as a douchebag. Rather, he is a great partner. Mostly. Having said that, all of this time spent on many of your incredible blogs has me picking at the scab (sorry for the imagery) that is the existence of our frozen embryos. So not-a-douchebag Gary calls me from Kalamazoo last night to say he'd made it there okay, and goodnight, and how was your day and I say that just so he knows, I haven't forgotten about the embryos and already have all the meds and could pick up the phone and call our clinic and we could just get this thing rolling. He mentions it is neither the time nor the place to have this discussion and we say goodnight, utter some other pleasantries. I hang up and think if not exactly douchebag, something like it. (What would that be? Neti Pot?) So, I guess, I may never really stop regarding him as a lump on my fertility log. That is, until he's the one getting probes and shots. Truth is, I think it is hard not to resent, even just a little, that so much of the fertility onus falls to us women, not only because of our biology, but because, I think, if we have a male partner, he often doesn't want to dictate what we do with our own bodies, a great principle in practice, but a difficult one when it comes to medical decisions made on behalf of a couple.

The Dunn Family said...

Thanks for you great comments. I agree that men and woman really have such a different insight into the whole journey. Although we are partners, we are such different people, so its hard to ALWAYS be on the same page. And I know I'm much more emotionally outspoken than my husband, so sometimes we doesn't know how to deal with me, and I'll confuse his silence for his not caring.

And I agree, love the "name-calling douchebag" comment!

The Town Criers said...

I think the combination of IF stress with hormones is breeding ground for explosions. Mine always came when coming off of progesterone. And even if we both rationally knew what was happening, we'd still get caught up in the emotion of it. IF spats suck.

Gabrielle said...

"This learning is at the same time that we are experiencing infertility, but did not come about because of infertility, i.e., I felt this pull prior to our first trying to have children."

Me, too! Only my learning pushed me farther away, not closer to the faith which I was raised.

Jendeis, (I LOVE the name of your blog BTW) thanks so much for your comments and for sharing your responses. Good stuff!

I don't think I can even say douchebag without laughing. What a funny word.

seattlegal said...

I really enjoyed reading your answers to the questions for this book. It's amazing how much going through IF really makes you look deep into your relationship. We definitely never seem to be on the same page most of the time when going through something like this.