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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Of This Much I'm Sure: Book Review


Though this blog is mostly about health, fitness and nutrition, my career is focused primarily on infertility. About 80% of my counselling clients come for infertility support. My passion for my work comes from my own experience with infertility and pregnancy loss, and from witnessing the pain and suffering of friends, family and my clients who have been through it.

So, of course, I eagerly agreed to read the memoir of Nadine Kenney Johnstone, which describes her experiences with infertility.

Johnstone is a college English teacher and writing coach in the Chicago area. Her husband has compromized sperm quality due to cancer treatment he received prior to their meeting. They underwent IVF and Johnstone experienced a rare, life-threatening complication to the treatment. After doing one failed embryo transfer they managed to spontaneously conceive. In utero, it appeared their son may have a serious kidney malfunction, but he was eventually born healthy.

The book is well written, which is not surprising, since Johnstone is a professional writing instructor. It is a pleasure to read and engaging, and could just as well be a novel as a memoir. She journals regularly which allows her to include a significant amount of detail that might be forgotten during traumatic events, otherwise.

I am always very grateful to anyone willing to share their infertility and/or infant/pregnancy loss stories, because we still are not talking about it enough as it is all shrouded in shame, stigma and a lack of understanding.

If you know a loved one who is struggling with infertility, I definitely recommend this book as you may get some insight into what they are going through. If you yourself are dealing with it, I recommend it as well, however, I should caution you on two things. First, if you are about to undergo IVF and have anxiety about the procedure, maybe hold off on reading this as Nadine's experience may scare you, and, honestly, it is not typical. In all the years I have been counselling IVF patients, only 2 I can think of had serious complications, and they weren't the same as Nadine's. It is not common. Second, while Nadine and her husband managed to conceive spontaneously, this does not happen for everyone, or even the majority of infertility patients. Don't let it give you false hope.

The book title is based on an assurance Johnstone got from a relative after their failed embryo transfer, that they would have a baby eventually. But this too is not necessarily true. What I tell all my infertility clients is this: Where there is a will, there is a way as long as, (1) You have financial means because all fertility treatments and adoption, etc. is extremely expensive, (2) You are open to whatever means is necessary to create a family (many people are not open to having a non-biological child, but not everyone will be able to have a biological child), and (3) You must have the stamina to keep going until you achieve your goal. Lots of people, including Johnstone, were unwilling to continue with treatment. Its not fun. So if financial means are insufficient, you are not willing to adopt, use an egg or sperm donor, use a surrogate, etc. if it is necessary, and/or you are not willing to continue with intervention, than you are not guaranteed to have a child.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and appreciate the candor with which Johnstone shares this very personal experience.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

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