Why do we find it so hard to discuss infertility?
The subject of infertility continues to be a taboo subject amongst Women. An increasing number of multiples are born through reproductive assistance, yet this journey to having babies is often difficult and filled with angst. As a society we find it difficult to reach out and share these troubles. Well-known writer, and Mom to twin boys, Kathryn Goldberg, sent us a copy of her first novel ‘The Doctor and the Stork: A Memoir of Modern Medical Babymaking’ and we celebrated because, finally, here was a novel that discussed all the ups and downs of an IVF twin pregnancy from a personal perspective.
This book documents Kathryn’s highs and the lows and shows the raw emotion that comes with using fertility assistance. Doubtless, her experiences will resonate with – and help bring together – so many parents, especially Moms of twins, that have also taken this path to parenthood. We meet so many parents in our twin classes who have used some form of reproductive assistance and their faces light up when the couple next to them also acknowledges their similar journey. It’s camaraderie – as Kathryn says ‘finding your twin mom tribe’ – and now this has taken the form of a memoir, we want to read and celebrate!
I met with Kathryn recently in San Francisco and asked her the questions I am sure you will be dying to know once you have read the book:
1. What made you want to write a book based on your journey with infertility?
There is so little written for women pregnant with twins, after infertility or otherwise. As a means of venting difficult feelings, in particular things I felt I couldn’t say out loud, I kept detailed journals through IVF and the twin pregnancy that followed. Those journals became the basis of the memoir. I hoped that a personal narrative, rather than something strictly factual or advice-oriented, would amuse, comfort and distract women going through these experiences. I wanted to capture the intensity and complexity—but also the humor, since that side sometimes gets left out too.
2. How did your family react when they read it, given it documents very personal parts of the relationship you have with your divorced mother and father, sister and more?
On the whole my family has been supportive. Certainly some of them recall events differently, and I try to discuss this in the book itself. I strongly believe that many families, if not all, go through cycles of conflict and coming together, and that in the context of a huge transition like pregnancy—and a twin pregnancy after IVF, in my case—strong feelings inevitably arise. Through that, relationships shift and grow—but the process isn’t always comfortable. I’ve had some interesting discussions with my family post-publication. Love prevails.
3. What is it about the subject of infertility that makes it harder for Moms to speak out about yet it is now more common than ever?
I ponder this often. It’s hard to speak about infertility when you’re in the middle of it, and the outcome is still unknown. I think our cultural norms are not set up to handle discussions of painful experiences or ongoing grief. We like to think that if you try enough at something, it will work—but infertility can fly in the face of this. Also, infertility is so personal in terms of what’s happening in your body, and in your heart, it can feel too vulnerable to risk hearing feedback that simply isn’t helpful. I didn’t speak about it until after the fact—now I hear people’s fertility related stories constantly, and I’m humbled to receive them.
4. As a Twin Mom having overcome the challenges of infertility, whats one piece of advice you would give others who are going through the assisted reproductive journey now?
Prioritize self-care. Whatever you have to do and can do to tend your body and spirit, do it. Then keep doing it. Acts of self nurturance are crucial.
5. Finally – as a Mom to 4 year old Twin Boys – do you want anymore?
I don’t mind this question. I think we are going to stick the landing. I feel so grateful to have been granted these beautiful boys.