Books are such a wonderful escape, aren’t they? I mean, we look at letters arranged on a page and we are transported to the lives and feelings and experiences of other people, other places. But sometimes, in certain moments of your life, a book is the opposite of an escape. Transporting, yes; but rather than helping us reach new levels of insight, entertainment, or knowledge, books can dig us deeper into an already treacherous emotional hole. This happened to me. This is the story of fertility treatments and how I ended up protecting myself from my books.
When I was trying to get pregnant, it wasn’t easy. My wife and I sought out fertility treatments. I did the injections, took my supplements, drank tons of water, changed my diet, did acupuncture, took up meditation, did everything I was supposed to. And still I was met each month with disappointment. And then, even more sadly, on my first successful month, I was met with miscarriage. The whole fertility treatment process began to undo me; I felt like a body, not a person.
My wife is active duty Navy, and so she was gone a lot during this process. It was just me, hanging out in our empty apartment, writing and cooking and obsessing over my not-pregnant body and reading. So much reading.
But a distressing thing began to happen: every single book I picked up was about pregnancy or children or fertility or miscarriage or abortion, and it was like I could not escape from the thing that I needed the most escape from. I picked up an Ann Patchett, confident that State of Wonder would be a great diversion because Ann Patchett is amazing; nope, reproductive endocrinology. I sought out favorite authors who had been un-put-down-able in the past, but lo, there was pregnancy loss, or abortion. Everywhere I turned there were babies. But not in my apartment. Not with me.