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On the Path of Hope from Infertility to Parenthood

by M.D. Zouves & Julie Sullivan

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8050-6046-4
Publisher: Henry Holt

This testament to the pain of infertility and the promise of reproductive technology relentlessly accentuates the positive even as it describes the utter desperation of couples who are willing to do whatever it takes to have a child. It’s not that Zouves, who is medical director at the San Francisco—based Pacific Fertility Center—one of the few in the country to offer its clients a money-back guarantee—is blind to what his patients are going through. On the contrary, he does an excellent job of recounting the physical, emotional, and financial toll that infertility treatment can take on his patients and their families. It’s just that in a book that considers every possible obstacle to having a baby—advanced age, endometriosis, fibroids, cancer, vasectomy, low sperm count and/or motility, immune system problems, to name just a few—nearly every couple depicted here emerges from the infertility ordeal with at least one healthy newborn. To be sure, most of them had to go pretty far afield; many underwent multiple cycles of in vitro fertilization, others had to rely on sperm or egg donors. Some even resorted to surrogates. The details of their treatment are described unflinchingly: hundreds of hormone shots, multiple miscarriages, the heartbreak of being “a little bit pregnant!” after embryos are implanted, only to have the “pregnancy” vanish, and the irony of “selective reduction,” i.e., aborting one or more fetuses when fertility treatments work too well. For those grappling with infertility, Zouves’s work, which makes the intricacies of biology understandable to the lay reader, offers a useful primer on cutting-edge science. And while it holds out much-needed hope to those who yearn for children, the book would have been more valuable had it reflected the reality that miracles do not happen every day.