"Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say."
"Always look on the bright side of life?"
"No, 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.'"


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Embryo Culture: Barren B*tches Book Brigade - A short review

I am not sure what I expected with Beth Kohl's Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-First Century but I am pretty sure what I got was not it. She turned the experience into a story not just a technical manual. I felt her struggle but I was not brought down by it. It really did give me a little more hope then I expected. Over all, I enjoyed the book.

So onto the question and answer part of our show:


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

I would have to say, that as far as religion and ART, I am not nearly as affected as my husband. I, in my heart, believe that God allows life/conception to happen. I see IVF as no different than having an egg fertilize naturally and just never implanting. So, I guess for me, life begins at implantation.

For DH, he struggles with whether or not IVF is playing God. Freezing the extra embryos is fin with him, but he does not want them used in research. In his mind, conception starts at the cell splitting. He likens freezing of embryos to suspended animation. Luckily, we are able to come to a mid ground and he is willing to try IVF with stipulations. We just don’t have a list of those stipulations on paper, yet.

I do not think that it affected my religious inclination nearly as much as being barren has. I see the story of Hannah as a goal yet I often struggle with the fact that I feel I am being punished. I undstood her wondering if God was a smitter who takes away fertility due to our past sins. In my heart it is rational to feel that way, but my head knows it is crap.

In Chapter 5 ("Professionals"), Beth writes about her clinic experiences. I got a chuckle out of her observation that "my early-morning posse and I seemed to be codelinquents doing time in juvie hall," as well as her description of George, the (male!) u/s tech. How was/is your clinic experience similar to or different than Beth's? Did you meet/Have you met any particularly memorable people (either fellow patients or clinic staff)?

I have been blessed with some of the most wonderful staff at my RE office. They know their jobs and are caring and supportive. I have never been love-wanded with such caring in my life. And, if George had been my u/s tech, I would have never gone back. I think that there is a fine line between friendly and just tacky. He was very tacky and he should have been more sensitive to the needs of his patient.

My first u/s was done by one of the wost wonderful nurses. She is very soft spoken and understanding. She chuckles at my joking and puts me at ease.

I also, rarely see anyone for my appointments because I go in the early morning. The few times I have, it is almost uncomfortable, like there is an elephant in the room. I have often wondered why we feel so ashamed to be there when we should be able to support each other and talk about it. Maybe it is just easier on-line. Only once has a child been there and it made several of the women very upset. Frankly, that has been my only beef with them, children should not be allowed do to the nature of the business.


Many bits of the book hit hard for me, but none more so than what may have been intended as just something that happened in passing. On page 95 of the version I have (second page of Chapter 6- Aspiration) – they're on their way to the clinic for egg retrieval. Gary and Beth are getting into an argument, courtesy of early morning, hormones, fears, a whole blend of it all. Gary calls Beth "a bitch". Beth then says: "He clenches the steering wheel, steeling himself for the fight he assumes will follow calling me this second-most-prohibited of names. I remain silent, reassessing whether I really want to have kids with this name-calling douchebag." 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?

Oh, I have been there, several times. I get very hormonal and weepy when I am medicated and ovulating. And after cycle after cycle, I do become a little bit of a b*tch. It is hard to fail month after month and not start to get on each other’s nerves.

We have dogs and sometimes I really think that DH expects them to behave and react like a human. He does not understand they do not have reasoning skills like we do. These are the times I wonder what on earth I am doing. But then I see with a child and how he softens and his face lights up and I know, I am not making a mistake; I am letting my fears get the better of me.

We really try to remain civil in our agreements but it is hard and I am a loose cannon at times. I do foresee struggles and times where I will want to kill him and he will want to kill me. I hope that knowing this ahead of time will help out. I could be fooling myself though. Emotions are hard to wrangle and hormonal emotions can be my undoing.


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Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about Embryo Culture? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Brigade by visiting the master list at http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/. Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #11 (The Mistress's Daughter by AM Homes with author participation!) and all are welcome to join along. All you need is a book and blog.

6 comments:

BethKohl said...

Hi Tammy. First of all, Happy Birthday. That red case is great! Secondly, thank you for your insightful comments. It is really gratifying to know that I'm not the only one plagued with doubts and questions. Best, Beth

The Dunn Family said...

Thanks for your great responses. I can understand why some people have a hard time with the freezing of embryos. It's such a personal decision. I was more ok with donating to science than I was to donating to another couple. But I must say that I was glad when we had none to freeze, so it wasn't a decision I had to make.

Also, I was in a huge REs office with tons of people, and you are right. We were all silent. We didn't look at each other. It's sad that we couldn't offer up support. But like you said, online is easier. If you click on a blog of secondary infertility, and you are primary, you can easily click away if you can't handle seeing pics of their child. But it's harder to do that with someone you start talking to in person. If there story is more successful than yours, you may want to run away from them, but that's pretty awkward to do in your REs office. So maybe it just feels safer to not say anything.

The Town Criers said...

Sometimes I think even knowing that it's hormones and the situation still it's impossible to circumvent all those explosive emotions.

I love the description of seeing your husband with a child.

loribeth said...

Thanks for some great answers. I have no idea what I would have done, had I been faced with the question of leftover embryos, so it's interesting to hear everyone's responses (including Beth's ongoing will-we-or-won't-we tug of war!). I'm also glad to hear I'm not the only one who got frustrated with my dh at times over this! ; )

Deb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I enjoyed reading your answers.

seattlegal said...

Just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book!