Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

October 28, 2007 conceivingisbelieving

Thanks to Melissa for organizing the Barren Bitches Book Tour. Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/.  You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
 

1. Elinor seemed to turn all of her books on the subject of infertility backwards on the bookshelves, where Roger found them while cleaning. Why do you think she did so? In what ways do you think people who are struggling with infertility help in keeping infertility such a “taboo” topic? Do you see infertility ever becoming a more accepted or understood topic?

I could totally relate to Elinor’s turning all her infertility books around. Before I miscarried, over a year and a half ago, I bought every pregnancy book I could find and since then they have been relegated to my bedroom squished between the wall and my night table. I could never display them in my bookshelf for fear of anyone seeing them. It’s partly that I don’t want people to think I’m some sort of weirdo buying pg books when I’m not pg and partly that I don’t feel like my infertility should be water-cooler conversation. Also, those books make me sad. I don’t need reminders that I don’t have children. I think Elinor turning them around showed she didn’t want to have to look at them either.

After reading this question, I realize how much I’m helping to promote the idea of keeping infertility issues taboo. In my community especially, the goals are to get married and procreate. A nice Jewish girl should be popping out babies. Walking into synagogue and seeing the inevitable baby parade is enough to send me running out of there. Those who don’t have children stand out so predominantly that to discuss infertility on top of that is almost a joke. Everyone knows that if you’re in your 30s and happily married without kids, you’re having fertility issues. I know it’s easier for me and my husband  to hang out with couples who don’t have kids or with single friends of ours. I know some people really need to be educated on the world of infertility but the thought of that makes me tired. Is it really my job to make people understand what I’m going through? I guess it is but I’m really not there yet.

2. The end of the book was left open to the reader.  Do you think that Elinor and Ted stayed together, or that they really finally separate?  Did she pursue adoption on her own, or did they do another round of IVF with PGD?  Do you think she ended up happy, or did she continue to struggle?

I think Elinor needed to hit rock bottom before she could decide how to move on with her life. Even after all her treatments failed, she still wasn’t moving on – she hung out in the laundry room, couldn’t really focus at work, etc. When she got pregnant unexpectedly and then had that taken away that destroyed any last hope of having a biological child and then she was able to move on.

I think she left Ted, went to Dublin and adopted a child. She was hanging on to Ted, not really being with him, and needed something to forcibly wrench her away. She ended up happy because she was able to change her expectations. She was free of her own rigid boundaries and was able to be fulfilled in a different way, through adoption.

3. On page 66, Elinor reveals that she was more disappointed about not being able to have Ted’s child versus not having a child at all.  How did you react to this revelation?  Can you understand her feelings and if so, how do they relate to your own?

My husband has this baby picture of himself which is just irresistable. It’s his same loveable face but in a super chubby baby body. Everytime I see it, I have such a bittersweet feeling inside. I wish so much I could have his child that it really hurts me. I know how much he wants a baby and not being able to give it to him destroys me. My own separate feelings of having a baby are very strong but somehow it feels more selfish and less deserving. To be able to have a baby with him which has some of his qualities (some, not all, I would like my children to remember to put the milk back in the fridge after they eat cereal) makes everything else in life seem like it doesn’t matter.

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Farah  |  October 29, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I love that you think Elinor went to Dublin and got on with her life – excellent responses

  • 2. candy  |  October 29, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    i agree completely on that husband’s baby picture thing. i am also destroyed by that.

    i’m not there yet either on educating people. i do talk about it, more in the complain about it constantly stage, but i wish i could talk about it in a more healthy way.

    great responses!

  • 3. Mommy Someday  |  October 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    My DH is the only child in his family without kids – and most of the kids are grown! We are just trying to start our family, so it is very hard for everyone on that side to understand “what our problem is”. Family gatherings are especially difficult.

  • 4. Deb  |  October 29, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know it is up to each of us to impact those around us and that we could provide a good education to others about infertility but am I with you on that. I’m not in that place that allows me to do that kindly.

  • 5. Mel  |  October 30, 2007 at 1:37 am

    This thought resonated with me: “Those who don’t have children stand out so predominantly that to discuss infertility on top of that is almost a joke. Everyone knows that if you’re in your 30s and happily married without kids, you’re having fertility issues.” Coming from the same community (albeit, on different sides of the ocean), I know exactly what you mean. I wish the rabbi would sometimes use one of those simple d’var Torahs–for Sarah or Rachel–to work in infertility and use it to discuss how congregants might feel. Sigh…

  • 6. Samantha  |  October 30, 2007 at 1:56 am

    Good insights. I also feel much worse about not being able to have children in the sense that I am letting my husband and other people down. Maybe we as women are just too self-sacrificing, because I know it hurts me too.

  • 7. Lori  |  October 30, 2007 at 3:30 am

    I really like your ending. It was very freeing for both Elinor. And she freed herself just by letting go of her expectations.

    And your answer about your husband’s baby picture really resonated. When I first met Hubby, I was so thrilled to be able to add to the gene pool with him…he’s awesome in so many ways.

    But it wasn’t to be that way.

    It was to be another way, a way that seems perfect now.

    Except for the milk my children leave out. ALL. THE. TIME.

  • 8. drownedgirl  |  October 30, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I like to think Elinor found peace, whatever path she took in the end.

  • 9. deanna  |  October 31, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Yeah, the one and only pregnancy book I have (a gift from my SIL) lives on the bottom shelf of my ricketiest bookshelf. I take a sick pleasure in letting it collect dust and dog hair.

    Totally unrelated, but I love your blog design! Very pretty!

  • 10. babystep  |  October 31, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    I need to get the book. I have only been reading technical books on IVF lately and I am DONE with that!! So tiring!

  • 11. Lisa  |  November 2, 2007 at 11:25 am

    I enjoyed reading your comments on the book. Thanks for sharing.

  • 12. babystep  |  November 12, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    I am very behind schedule, but I just checked the book out from the library. I will read this post when I am done!


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