Orenstein (Schoolgirls, 1994, etc.) chronicles her tortuous journey to motherhood.
The author was 35, involved in a busy, successful career as a journalist and ambivalent about having a child, when her filmmaker husband broached the subject. A diagnosis of breast cancer six weeks later put the baby plans on hold, and Orenstein was 36 before she began trying in earnest to get pregnant. Her witty presentation of such nitty-gritty details as temperature charts, cervical-mucous consistency, sperm counts and timed intercourse at first make her memoir an amusing read. The mood shifts, however, with a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage, followed by another and then a third. One of the book’s most moving chapters, which appeared in slightly different form in the New York Times Magazine, recounts the author’s visit to a Buddhist temple in Tokyo; red-capped statues of infants lined the temple’s shady path, offering ritual acknowledgement of the loss felt by women who miscarry a fetus (a taboo subject in the West). Orenstein’s obsession with becoming pregnant increasingly placed a strain on her marriage. It eventually led her to spend thousands of dollars for in-vitro fertilization at clinics whose staff acted more like salesmen than doctors and treated her more like a customer than a patient. She tried acupuncture, another less-than-happy experience, and implantation of a donor egg, which failed. She and her Japanese-American husband finally decided to adopt a Japanese baby boy. That red-tape-snarled transaction became even more complicated when Orenstein discovered she was again pregnant. Would she end up with two babies, one or none? The answer is in the title.
Intimate, funny/sad and remarkably self-revealing.