This low-key exploration of belatedly (age 40) wanting and not being able to conceive a baby is uncommonly sensitive and revealing. A casual observation of two mothers and their rambunctious offspring on an ice cream break at Dairy Queen launches Alden's (Feeding the Eagles, 1988) memoir of the years she spent waffling between wanting a child to nurture and wondering how a woman could surrender her life to the peremptory needs of a child. Alden longed, she came to realize, both to be her mother and not be her mother, to be a writer (inspired by mentors Wallace Stegner and Tillie Olsen) and to bear a child and be ``swallowed up by caretaking.'' Always ambivalent, she and her husband nevertheless moved ahead, at first leaving conception to the fates by simply abandoning birth control. As time went on, they more pointedly ``tried,'' scheduling intercourse for the fertile times dictated by thermometer and monthly cycles. Then they tried harder, enlisting the help of infertility experts for hormone treatments, artificial insemination, and the counting of follicles. Ultimately, they stopped trying, decided against adoption, and continued building their life as a ``family of two.'' But not without tears and a long, painful period of mourning for Alden. ``Our bodies were made to have babies,'' a therapist tells her. ``It takes a long time for the body to get over not having them.'' Far more than a recitation of the frustrations faced in specialists' waiting rooms, this is also an exploration of growing up as a southern girl, the conflicts encountered as the '60s and feminism overtook the wearing of white gloves and chicken salad luncheons, and the bending and mending of a mother and daughter's relationship. An eloquent self-examination without self-pity that helps resolve the now-common struggles of 30-plus women who face not only infertility but the conflict between society's expectations and personal fulfillment.