Polak’s memoir details the trials and disappointment of being unable to conceive when Murphy, of Murphy’s Law, lives on your street.
Everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong for Emma and William in their attempts to have a child. Emma, a schoolteacher, endures rounds of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination with no success. When she does miraculously get pregnant without medical intervention, Emma loses the baby just shy of 12 weeks and has to have a post-miscarriage D&C procedure, which is emotionally and physically devastating. Emma continues with fertility drugs, artificial insemination, IVF and even acupuncture, at a cost of thousands of dollars. During one round of IVF, Emma’s life is put at risk when the implantation of fertilized eggs results in a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. After another round of IVF doesn’t result in a pregnancy, Emma and William begin to consider using a donor’s eggs. As each attempt ends in failure, Emma and William confide less in their friends and family, hoping to keep the brunt of the disappointment to themselves. Unexpectedly, they get a call from an adoption agency—they have been chosen by a young couple having a baby girl. Cautiously optimistic, Emma and William exchange emails with the birth parents and prepare their home for the baby’s arrival. But Murphy’s Law strikes again, resulting in heartbreak for the couple. Polak goes into great detail describing every aspect of the medical procedures Emma endured, including the shots given, blood samples taken and drugs prescribed. The writing is self-conscious at times, especially when Polak draws attention to what she calls “unimportant” details or when she unnecessarily explains pop-culture references, like Seinfeld’s “close talker,” for instance. Nonetheless, this memoir serves as a source of information for similarly inflicted couples, providing a stark depiction of the emotional reality a woman faces when faced with the prospect of never having children. For Emma and William, eventually, the “why me” outlook subsides. After trying a third doctor, Emma says: “Suddenly, putting my life in danger did not seem to be an issue. My life was in danger as it was, because I was living without hope.”
An in-depth look at the nuances of infertility, helpful for couples facing similar circumstances.