Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Club: Navigating the Land of IF

The great and fabulous lady Melissa Ford (aka Lollipop Goldstein) who is the glue that bonds this community has written a wonderfully informative book about infertility in all its aspects and complexities. You can read about (and purchase) Navigating the Land of IF by clicking on the title or visiting your local bookstore. (Just be careful when searching as there appears to be another Melissa Ford out there with a lot of, um, exposure...) I highly recommend this book as a reference to anyone journeying through the Land of IF, especially those new to the area.

Each member participating in the book club chose a couple of questions to answer, see my answers below and then click the link at the bottom to see what everyone else is saying!

In the appendix, Melissa volunteers a supportive note to get us through our journeys, particularly those hard times like baby showers. Because there are just as many emotional pitfalls for our partners and spouses that might not be as overt to us, what note would you write to your partner to also support them through their part of this journey?

My love, my dearest E,

You are an amazing person and a better husband than I deserve. You have never once laid any of the blame for this journey at my feet, even though it is my body, my reproductive system, that has failed us time and again. More than that, you stopped me from beating myself up for it.

You have loved and supported me through it all. You have allowed me to be focused entirely on the process because I know you are standing behind me looking out for me and our life.

Even though it may not always be clear to you (especially when I'm in a hormone induced rage) you are the best part of my life. I draw my strength from your strength. I can go forward only because I know that you are going on beside me. I know that one day we will achieve our goals, a baby to hold in our arms, and we will continue to move forward with life and love.

all my love, M

I kept wishing, as I read the book, that certain people could have read certain parts while I was going through IF. To help THEM understand better what I was going through. Which part(s) did you want to show and to whom? Your RE? Your nosy neighbor? Your insensitive co-worker? Maybe even your spouse/partner?

First, I kept wishing that I'd had this as guide from the very beginning of my journey. It would have been so helpful! I've already recommended it to several newbies who are just starting out.

Second, I still wish that my close friends, the ones I've confided in would read it from cover-to-cover. It's so frustrating to me that after 2 1/2 years of my journey, they still don't understand the simplest of terminology or the process of cycles. However, as they have ignored everything else I have sent along to help themselves become informed, I fully expect them to ignore this book suggestion as well.

One of the funniest parts of the book is the Q&A section about how to respond to inappropriate questions. Mel addressed several of the most common questions, but there are plenty more! Give an example of a rude, ignorant, annoying or inappropriate question you’ve been asked during your IF experience, that wasn’t already in the book, and write your own gentle, firm and free-for-all responses to the question.

I fully enjoyed reading that section, and it did give me some new ideas! Although, I'm not 'out' so I encounter fewer of these remarks. However after my loss, I encountered a lot of platitudes. I've now sworn to never utter one to another human being in need of sympathy and compassion. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that these were people who genuinely cared about me and were doing the only thing they knew in the face of a tragic situation. They were not intentional hurts (see Picking Your Battles pg 83) and so I nodded and said "Thank you." But the one platitude that suck in my throat was "Everything happens for a reason." I mean, really?? What possible reason can you come up with that would make sense of babyloss (or really infertility in the first place)? At the time I just would make unintelligible grunting noises and frantically blink to stop the tears... But now, here are my trio of responses:

Gentle: I understand how thinking that can help ease some people's pain, but it doesn't work that way for me.
Firm: No, I don't believe there has to an explanation or reason for everything. Some things are just tragedies.
Free-For-All: Please then, tell me what you think the reason is? Am I just a terrible person and this is retribution? Or were my lovely babies going to grow up into monsters? I'd just love to hear you explain it to me.

If you are a reader of Melissa's blog, did you find the book to be a same or different style and why?

I'm an avid reader of all of Melissa's writings! I'm amazed by the amount of energy she puts into keeping our community running and together. It's a great resource as well as an amazing support system. I'm forever grateful that Stirrup Queens (and everything else!) exists and that I stumbled upon it. It's helped me keep my sanity, introduced me to others who Get It, and has made me feel less alone.

I think it is challenging to keep your 'voice' while writing a non-fiction informational piece. While I definitely hear Lollipop Goldstein throughout (especially in the special 'notes'), I do miss the sharing of personal information that keeps me coming back to Stirrup Queens. I miss the baking, the twins, Josh, and her conversations and the glimpse into her thoughts. However, I suppose that doesn't fit in Navigating the Land of IF... Perhaps she'll write us a memoir next??

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Moose by Stephanie Klein.


  1. I particularly love your last answer... I did hear Mel's voice in the book, but you're right, it was different from her blog & the very personal stuff related to her own story that she writes there. Aren't we lucky we can enjoy both??

  2. I love your letter to your husband- that is wonderful!! I agree- the Q&A is hilarious! I found myself laughing outloud at some of them.

    {{{HUGS}}} For your babies.

    Going through this infertility process has really opened my eyes at how unintentional hurt can still hurt. I have learned at how inadequate those platitudes are. Just I am sorry and hugs are really all I need.

    I am sorry. {{HUGS}}}
    Lorza from Baby Making Journey.

  3. Oh, I love your snarky answer. That would shut people up quickly. And, your letter to your hubby is fabulous.

  4. What a beautiful letter to your hubby, I hope you give it to him! And I'm sorry that your friends haven't stepped up and taken more interest in the world of IF that you are going through.

  5. I agree, I wish I'd had this book 5 years ago and that I could have given copies to my parents and in-laws. I'll definitely be passing it out or recommending it to anyone I hear of who is newly diagnosed or seeking diagnosis.

    I completely agree with you about that particular platitude. I just can't believe that some people believe that crap. Some things happen for a reason and other things just suck.

  6. But there is baking in the book! What about the banana cake recipe?

    The letter to your husband is wonderful. I hope he's seen it.

  7. But there should be more baking. More flour, less follistim :-)

    I think the letter to your husband was gorgeous. I hope you actually gave it to him or that he read it on the blog.

    Thank you so much for doing this!