Happiness sold separately – Lolly Winston

QUESTIONS:
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?

My experience of infertility has been via recurrent loss. I think it is a taboo, though oddly, it becomes easier to talk about the more you lose. Or maybe it just becomes harder to cover it up, from work colleagues for instance.

As a woman with secondary infertility, other mothers would often ask if we’d have another. Randomly, I’d either reply “Maybe” or reveal we’d had several losses. The other women would sometimes reveal that they’d had losses too (though never seven!)

For some reason, I never told my younger siblings. Maybe as I have always been protective of them. Once pregnant via DE and about to tell my son, I had no choice but to tell all friends and family. So I shared the DEIVF info with my brother and sister, though not the miscarriages. My brother then revealed he is about to embark on IVF with his wife. That sort of proves you hear stories back once you share a bit about yourself. It sort of makes life less lonely.

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 really want to hope that Elinor found peace somehow. I tend to think the author wasn’t hinting at the cliche happy ending “Just relax..” but that she was encouraging us to see Elinor embracing the other happinesses in her life and getting off the bandwagon. She can see all the potential paths.. adopting with Ted, adopting alone, divorce, dating, staying friends with Ted… there suddenly seem to be many options open to her. When we hear the diagnosis, we’re probably pushing further treatment on her.. “Try PGD!” but I have the feeling that Elinor has already reached her limit with fertility treatment and the book tries to look beyond.

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?

This was a theme in a previous book club choice, the Time Traveler’s Wife and made me think a lot, then, about the issues for those of us conceiving with donor eggs or sperm. In that book (one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read) the protaganist has a husband who is always disappearing/time travelling and part of her desperation to have his child is about having a part of him that will always be there. There was an legal issue in the UK where a woman had to fight to be allowed to be impregnated with her dead husband’s sperm where clear permission hadn’t been given … so clearly for the bereaved, their partner’s child does represent a part of them. I look at my son and I don’t know that I feel deep down that he is genetically part of my partner, or of me. He is part of us by nurture, that’s for sure, sharing a few characteristics, good and bad. But by nature? I don’t know. I’ll tell you when the DE twins arrive. I don’t feel that there will be a lack. Does my partner grieve that those babies will not share my genetics? He hasn’t said. But of course, we do have one child together, so any grief would be different to those looking at finality, no genetic offspring.

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.

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~ by drownedgirl on October 28, 2007.

15 Responses to “Happiness sold separately – Lolly Winston”

  1. I have similar experiences in my life, that sharing my IF journey has caused others to bring up their own stories. I think that’s also the point of the common thread bracelet, to help give people the opportunity identify people they can talk to about infertility. I wondered if Elinor turned the books backward because seeing them there was a painful reminder of how her own treatment had failed, even more than a cultural taboo.

    I also suspect that Elinor and Ted end up moving in separate directions after the book ends. It’s sad that they are unable to heal together, but it makes for a bittersweet ending because I got the impression that both characters are healing. For Elinor that means exploring other ways to have a family, even without Ted, and for Ted that means starting a new life with Gina and Toby. Although it’s not certain how the characters end up, you do get the feeling that they are more at peace with their loss.

  2. As you wrote “you hear stories back once you share a bit about yourself. It sort of makes life less lonely.” That’s certainly what I’m finding. Like anything that has risks (and inherent vulnerabilities), there can be great rewards as well. Good to hear you’re doing well with the twins…

  3. hearing stories back is what i’ve experienced here in blog land. it’s not what i’ve experienced in my daily off line life. in fact almost the opposite is true. barely any of the people we told could truly relate though some were surprisingly kind and wonderful in their ability to empathize. thank goodness for the internet, it’s your blog and the blogs of other ivf/de women that have helped me to feel less lonely.

  4. “Although it’s not certain how the characters end up, you do get the feeling that they are more at peace with their loss.”

    Excellent point – thank you for reminding me of this. Peace with losses is such a hard acceptace for me at times.

  5. i didn’t write this on my own response to the question, but now that i’m thinking about it more i do think maybe infertile women make the topic… not necessarily more taboo… but i’m sure the people around me are tired of hearing about it. if i don’t talk about it i’m just grouchy without a cause, but if i do i feel like it’s “oh, there she goes again, talking talking talking about THAT.”

    i really like what you said: “you hear stories back once you share a bit about yourself. It sort of makes life less lonely.”

    congrats and good luck with your twins! i’ll definitely be checking back in to see how you’re doing!

  6. It’s interesting that you wrote “we’re probably pushing further treatment on her.. “Try PGD!”

    I was rooting for her to begin adoption. Because that’s my experience. Just shows how we bring ourselves into others’ situations.

    I wish you the best with your twins!

  7. I enjoyed reading your responses above. I agree with your comment about sharing a little of yourself. Everytime I do, I seem to find someone who has experienced a loss or has had some issues trying to conceive. I don’t share “in real life” a lot, but thank goodness for the Internet!!

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. I agree that Elinor and Ted found peace. I suspect down different paths, and I doubt Elinor returned to treatment.

    Thanks for your thoughtful perspective!

  10. I loved your second answer. I think that it’s the difference between doing treatments with blinders and doing treatments while scanning the landscape. I think the fact that she could see all those paths was a much healthier place to be. Myself, I think I would have done the PGD 🙂 But I tend to get the blinders on…

  11. I think for most couples when they start down the treatment road they are really set on having a baby that is genetically both of them. But sometimes life has different things in store for us. Like, if you are just starting out with an RE, the most important thing is that you and your husband have a biological child. But when your first, second or third IVF doesn’t work, you start to realize that maybe it has nothing to do with genes, and everything to do with wanting to be parents. And suddenly the genetic part of it really doesn’t matter that much. Me and my DH started the process attempting to have our own children. And for us, it never went any further, because it worked. But we both agreed that whatever it took, wherever it took us, we wanted to be parents. If that meant donor sperm, donor eggs, or adoption, we were willing to do it. I think that’s what Elinor realized. It doesn’t really matter if the DNA is yours. It’s the love, the nurturing, the times you spend as a family. That’s what matters.

  12. I, too, think Elinor made a break with all things infertility at the close of the book. She shreds her IF research books, she chooses not to schedule a return appointment with the RE or investigate other treatments, and then she pictures her future without Ted or infertility in it. But, her departure from these things seemed hopeful, not sorrowful, as though they had simply run their courses. This made it easy for me to be hopeful for her, too.

  13. I really liked your responses.

    And this, although I don’t talk much
    “My experience of infertility has been via recurrent loss. I think it is a taboo, though oddly, it becomes easier to talk about the more you lose.”
    I completely relate to this. I want to talk about it so much more these days. I still don’t but I can see what you mean.
    Good to hear the twins are doing well.

  14. Another blog I lost track of…sorry…glad things are going well. Thanks for the comment.

  15. […] Happiness sold separately – Lolly Winston […]

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