One of the joys of the blog community is getting to experience (in a way) the amazing moments in someone's life. Last week I was daily checking my Google Reader to see how my favorite ex-patriot living in London was doing. Talk about amazing moments; for me, there is nothing more amazing than the moments of trying to become a parent.
If you ever click on those Tiny Reads I have linked on the left sidebar, you may have noticed me sharing posts written by London Southern Belle. (I just moved up her two latest posts in my feed-sharer so you can easily see what she's been writing about.) I won't share her whole story, but the highlight of last week is that she had two little embryos tucked inside her and, oh how I'm hoping those little babies are thriving and growing.
I've been reading Amanda's blog for years, and wanting to understand her story and other's like hers is one of the reasons why I agreed to review a book (for Parent Bloggers Network) about infertility. I don't have any personal experience with infertility; however, I have friends who have experienced great difficulty getting on a path that led to a baby in the arms. Sometimes the path is fertility drugs; sometimes it's IVF; sometimes it's adoption. Whatever path it is, I know it was walked with great sacrifice.
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story, by Matthew M. F. Miller. Before reading the book, I hadn't read or even heard of his blog, although I follow it now. The book was a unique reading experience for me not only because I haven't read a book about infertility, but I haven't read a parenting/love story book written from the guy's perspective. In fact, it was precisely because there is a lack of men writing about this topic that inspired Matt to start his blog.
As for the story, it is told with wit and grace and frustration and heartache. But realIy, it's filled with honesty and humor. And not just a little bit of honesty and humor. A LOT of honesty and humor. There were times when even I squirmed a little bit over his frankness, but I reminded myself that it's good for me to understand that the process of getting pregnant is not always a simple one. As for humor, who would have thought that talking about infertility could be humorous? But Matt easily finds the tone and uses it with great care and effect. After all, those awkward moments in the doctor's office...let's just say it made me thankful to be a woman.
The story begins with Matt and his wife Constance thinking about when to start their family. They are waiting, saving up money, getting everything in order. Then they make the decision to start trying for a baby. They try and they try, and while they are certainly having fun trying, they aren't getting the positive sign on the pregnancy tests. So they turn to doctors, drugs, and diet. This process was the most eye-opening for me, and though the book could certainly serve as a guide for "how to increase your chances of getting pregnant," Matt doesn't let the narrative get too technical. The story is infused with his own fears and questions, and provides a point of view that (I think) isn't often explored.
I walked away from reading the book with a greater sensitivity and awareness to the fertility struggles that 6.1 million Americans face. Honestly, it had never crossed my mind that asking a married couple "Do you have kids?" would be an inappropriate question, and I'm still not sure that it's inappropriate to ask in every context, but I'll certainly be more thoughtful in the future. Though I try to be careful about what questions I ask others, there is room for improvement. Most definitely. More than providing lessons in etiquette and instruction, however, Maybe Baby is a testament of what true love can withstand, enduring all the bumps in the road while the one bump in particular eludes them. That should be an encouragement to anyone.
And how does the book end? The book doesn't exactly end on a triumphant note, which is why I promptly looked up Matt's blog to see how he and Constance are doing. I will say there has been some IVF triumph, but there has also been some heartache (which Matt managed to still find some humor in). While their story isn't as near to my heart as Amanda's, I'm still cheering them on that after the next several months they'll have a baby.
Not a maybe.