Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Questions for Waiting For Daisy

Each group wrote and received a set of questions to answer for their blog post about Waiting for Daisy. Here is the complete set of Waiting for Daisy questions broken down by group.

Group A answered by Group C

  1. Orenstein struggles with the feeling that she "waited too long to start trying to conceive". How does this compare to your feelings about the timing of your journey to parenthood?
  1. Peggy relied on a few things to comfort and give her a sense of security while pregnant or after miscarrying. Did you find that you also had a token, or good luck charm, or item you used to help you recover from loss or a failed cycle?
  1. Which character exhibited more of your feelings/emotions/responses toward the infertility journey? Were you surprised by that reaction?
  1. Very early in the book Peggy says something that every IF has thought at least once: “what do you do, think the first time you’re ready but your body says no?” Outside of when you got your infertility diagnosis (because that could have been many cycles in), how did you feel that FIRST time your body said no?
  1. Peggy struggles through the book with questions of heritage, genes, and religion. How important is it for you and your partner to have a child that is biologically yours and why? What feelings go into that decision/choice for you right now if you are still trying to have a child ?
  1. In a few places Peggy writes about conversations with Steven where they are trying to negotiate her obsession with getting pregnant. In the first conversation he says that she needs to care about something other than getting pregnant so that they can have a life and in the second conversation he says that he'll keep trying to get pregnant only if she stops caring about it. Do you find yourself negotiating your thoughts about infertility with your partner? Does he or she notice when you are retreating into the land of IF and if so, what, if any, strategies do you employ to help pull yourself back from the abyss?
  1. This book was the first glimpse I've had at someone with spontaneous conception and recurrent miscarriages. As someone who has never had a BFP (even after an HCG shot), it was a chance to see what the love and loss cycle is. It made me realize: I've never thought of people like Peggy as infertile. We always here about how secondary infertility is the persona non grata of the infertile world, but I'm wondering if maybe it is women in the conception/miscarriage cycle that get short shrift?
  1. On the bottom of page 62, Peggy muses that she thought Steven was getting her pregnant. If you’re undergoing treatments, who do you think gets the person pregnant? The owner of the other gametes (whether they’re your partner or donor sperm/egg)? The RE?
  1. As the only "man-pie" in this round of the Book Tour, I feel obliged to ask a question regarding the role Peggy's husband Steven plays in her story. There are times when he says things to the effect of "Get over it," and expresses the wish to return their marriage from the uni-dimensional land of Infertility. It is cliche to say that infertility places strain on a marriage, but it was fascinating for me to observe this outside my own marriage in such detail and with such honesty. Did I ever tell my wife to "just roll with it"? No. (Although I am sure in the guise of "helping my wife heal" I said equally unhelpful things.) Did I wish she would just roll with it so we wouldn't be constantly reminded of our misery? Yes. Did I intellectually grasp why that was impossible? Yes, but I don't think I comprehended it on multiple levels until I read Waiting For Daisy. What was driven home to me was how for men and women, infertility is a parallel journey with many mutually exclusive experiences -- it all happens in her body, all very theoretical for me. My powers of empathy are great, but not limitless. I could go on with my own theories of what that leads to but I'm curious: How typical were Steven's responses to your own partner's? Can you ask him? (Apologies for the hetero-centric nature of the question.)

Group B answered by Group A

  1. We have all had our own experience with infertility. Whether it was from IVF, IUI, miscarriages, or other forms we have all been there. How do you feel Peggy's story compares to yours?
  1. Peggy talks about 'scheduling to have a baby,' making sure her life goals had been met and it was the right time to start her family. Now in hindsight do you yourself regret putting a timetable on when you would start your family? Would you have 'scheduled' your life differently?
  1. One page 152, the author writes of considering her 3 miscarriages differently - as two miscarriages and one molar pregnancy. She explains that she does that because she doesn't blame herself for the molar pregnancy (caused by sperm abnormality) like she blames herself and feels guilty for the other miscarriages. In your fertility life, do you categorize different incidences like she does? In your heart, do you feel more or less guilty depending upon whose "fault" it was? Is that a way of coping?
  1. In the epilogue, Orenstein struggles with what might be called the mythology of infertility: the messages and assumptions that it's all worth it in the end; that it's a matter of luck (the chapter's title is "Meditations on Luck"); that everything has worked out for the best; that adoption might be an emotional/spiritual cure for infertility; that some couples may be too quick to seek medical assistance; that she may have waited too long to begin trying to conceive; and, as another woman told her earlier in her journey, that "the pain goes away." Her husband warns her to not become a revisionist, but she acknowledges that becoming a mother has been a "surprisingly redemptive" experience and seems to not entirely reject the above messages. Describe how you feel about the presence of this mythology, both in Orenstein's epilogue and in your own life. How has it affected the way you tell your story, on your blog or elsewhere, and how you interpret others' stories? To what extent have you revised or even rewritten your own story of infertility? Is it inevitable, perhaps even necessary, to do so?
  1. Were others as selfishly frustrated as I that what we all consider to be the universal "assvice" - "Go away on a romantic vacation and it will happen!" - turned out to solve Peggy's problem? Has this outcome put more pressure on other readers' non-treatment cycles?
  1. When I read how if one had asked the author 10 years earlier, she would have said that she didn't even want children, I felt better. I guess deep down I always knew that I wanted children, but having had a severely mentally and physically handicapped sister, I was scared. It was comforting to read about another woman's ambivalence and feelings of guilt. When I found out that I was losing ovarian function I could not believe that there was a strong possibility that I would never have a biological child. That spurred in me a determination I had not had in many years. Have you ever felt ambivalence towards parenthood prior to receiving your diagnosis?
  1. When you received your IF diagnosis, did you feel as if you were being punished or it was simply a case of dumb luck?
  1. Orenstein’s friend, Larry, says on p. 47, “you can only feel the loss of something you’ve had.” Orenstein gives her thoughts on the matter on page 50. Do you agree with Larry or Peggy?
  1. “I felt like the luckiest unlucky woman in the world” (p. 57). This quote really struck me. Do we naturally grasp for the silver lining in things? Do we always have to convince ourselves that something makes us lucky in order to keep going through the difficulties of life?

Group C answered by Group B

  1. One element of this book that really struck me was the Japanese tradition of mourning miscarriages and abortions. Should we apply a similar grieving process to our inability to conceive? Would a formal acknowledgment of the loss of easy, or any, fertility help us emotionally? And, if so, what form should it take?
  1. Near the end of the book, Orenstein is enjoying her happy time Daisy, while at the same time reminding herself at her husband's request, that the journey to get Daisy was not worth all of the heartache. On the other hand, you could also observe that Orenstein had a difficult journey to motherhood, but in the end, she succeeded, so how could it not be worth it? If you had been in Orenstein's position, what would you have done differently? Are there particular actions/choices of hers that you felt were "over the top?"
  1. I was really touched by the visit to the Jizo garden for Peggy to honor the baby she lost. What ritual helped you in the healing process after you experienced a loss?
  1. Peggy Orenstein says, 'The descent into the world of infertility is incremental. Those early steps seem innocuous, even quaint; IUI was hardly more complex than a turkey baster. You're not aware of how subtly alienated you become from your body, how inured to its medicalization. You don't notice your motivation distorting, how conception rather than parenthood becomes the goal, how invested you become in its ‘achievement’.” Does this accurately describe your experience? Would you say you have become alienated from your body while struggling with infertility?
  1. On p. 233, Orenstein describes what infertility cost her: "Becoming a parent can't give me back the time ... obliterated by obsession. It doesn't compensate for the inattention to my career, for my self-inflicted torment, for trashing my marriage." How is your experience with infertility and the toll it has taken on your life similar or different from Orenstein's?
  1. You can tell from the title of the book that the author eventually becomes a mom. How did this knowledge affect you as you read? Were you hoping for a certain outcome -- unassisted pregnancy, medical miracle, child through foster or adoption...or possibly even dreading a happy ending? To what degree does your own experience filter into the unfolding of Orenstein's experience?
  1. Peggy Orenstein writes: "Swallowing that little white pill was the first time I did something I swore I wouldn't in order to get pregnant: I willingly put my health on the line." Do you believe you've put your health on the line by ingesting hormones, etc.? Is it a decision you'd make again for the chance to get pregnant? How far would you go? How strong has your primal urge been?
  1. Peggy Orenstein writes: "You don't notice your motivation distorting, how conception rather than parenthood becomes the goal, how invested you become in its 'achievement.' Each decision to go a little further seems logical. More than that it begins to feel inevitable." In your pursuit for children, what has been the extent of the collateral damage? Have you risked your finances? Alienated your spouse or friends?
  1. After you realized that you might not be able to have kids on your own, did you assume that based on all of the fertility clinic ads and success photo albums as Peggy writes, "science would relieve [your] pain?" And, if after an unsuccessful IVF you found that science did fail you, what were you left feeling about your next steps?
  1. Peggy Orenstein writes that her first reaction to donor eggs was, "Using donor eggs was so Handmaid's Tale. Once again I thought, I'd never be that desperate for a child?" What was your initial reaction to the idea of donor eggs? Did your opinion change over time? If you were successful, would you tell your children that they were conceived using donor eggs? Why or why not?
  1. Peggy Orenstein writes about the Buddhist being Jizo "who among other tasks watches over miscarried and aborted fetuses as well as dead children.” She also writes: "My own dilemma now was this: how could I memorialize someone who never really existed? Should I try to forget these babies, these nonbabies, that I'd lost? Could I, even if I wanted to?" Do you mull over similar questions? What is your thinking about it? A recent Globe and Mail piece talks about memorializing loss of children down to embryos--
    Would your loss be made less difficult through this ritual not currently available to us?
  1. For those who have suffered infertility and now have children:
    Peggy Orenstein writes, "Sometimes [my friends] seemed to me like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Who were these women and what had they done with my friends?" Have you embraced your new role as "mom" to such a degree that you're now unrecognizable to your friends who don't have children? If so, is it a conscious decision or did it just happen?

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