A British husband and wife tell stories of fertility treatments and harrowing hospital stays in this self-help book aimed at couples struggling to start a family.
When Steve (co-author, Realms and the Giant’s Spear, 2015, etc.) and Vaso Petrou tied the knot in 1994, they knew that they wanted children. But despite consulting ovulation charts and saying plenty of prayers, their story remained the same: no baby, and lots of tears. “We forgot how vibrant and happy we were in the beginning,” recalls Steve. “This sadness became part of what we were.” A trip to the doctor helped to explain their struggle, as Vaso learned that she had polycystic ovaries, a condition that causes irregular menstruation and makes it difficult to pinpoint peak fertility. After four years of trying on their own, the couple began in vitro fertilization treatments to increase the odds. Although this helped Vaso conceive, the couple faced greater obstacles as she struggled to carry a pregnancy to term. Overall, the Petrous have a powerful story to tell. One early passage, for example, is particularly heartbreaking: Vaso conceives after her first IVF treatment, but then doctors discover that the fetus has severe defects and say that the pregnancy must be terminated. The couple also provides helpful, easy-to-understand explanations of ovarian hyperstimulation and lifesaving technologies to assist premature infants. However, many readers may not get far enough to glean such useful information. The book’s first third is repetitive, and several comments may be off-putting to some members of the couple’s target audience; for example, Steve repeatedly states he has “no real desire” to find out how the female body works and tells men to prepare themselves to endure “a lot of unreasonable arguments” from their partners if they choose IVF—a procedure in which the woman is injected with hormones. In another instance, Steve implies that trying for a baby is easier for women because they “just lie down.”
A gripping story stymied by wildly out-of-date views on women’s roles and sexuality.