Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book review: "Silent Sorority" by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos

There aren't many resources out there for those of us who opt to leave the infertility treatment path and live without children (as opposed to those who are childfree by choice in the first place).

There are a few (very few, mostly underutilized) Internet sites and message boards (some listed in the sidebar on this blog). And also a few (very few) books devoted specifically to this subject -- most of them written in the 1980s & early 1990s. (Most comprehensive infertility guides that I've read dismiss childfree living with a few measly paragraphs; perhaps a page or two at most.)

A lot has changed since those books were written. (What did once-hopeful mothers facing an childless future do before the Internet?? -- I shudder to think...) Whereas once upon a time, the choice for infertile couples was stark & clear -- adopt or remain childless/free -- the options available to them have multiplied almost exponentially -- even in the 8 years since I called a halt to treatment. Thanks to birth control, it's now easier for women who don't want to have children to remain childfree -- and an increasing number of them are doing so -- sometimes quite vocally. At the same time, the public's seemingly endless cult-like fascination with the pregnant bellies and all things mommy, pregnancy and baby-related has, if anything, only intensified -- as has the growing outspokeness of those who are childfree by choice. No wonder it sometimes feels as though the voices of women living in my particular situation are getting lost in the cacaphony, struggling to be heard above the din.

That's why I was so happy to recently receive -- & dive into -- my copy of Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost & Found by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos -- better known to those of us in the ALI blogging community as Pamela Jeanne of Coming2Terms.

For me, finding Pamela's blog on the Internet was like stumbling into an oasis in the middle of a desert. I knew, from my time spent on Internet bulletin boards, that even though there weren't many of us posting about this painful subject, there were plenty more lurking in silence, reading what we had to say. When I first started exploring the world of infertility blogs, I found plenty of blogs out there by & for childfree by choice women... and plenty of infertility blogs... but Coming2Terms was the first I found for women like me, who had made the difficult decision to move on from infertility treatment, without children, but were still haunted by the shadow infertility had cast over our lives.

In Pamela, I felt that I had found a "kindred spirit." Silent Sorority describes Pamela's personal journey, from girlhood to the present, the influences that shaped her life choices, her valiant 11-year struggle to have a family, her painful decision to remain childfree, her resolve to create a new kind of meaningful life for herself and her husband as a family of two, and her sharp-eyed, sometimes hilarious observations -- some of them familiar to readers of her blog -- about what it's like to be infertile in a world gone mad for babies & pregnant women.

The hard truth is, not all infertility stories end with a baby. But that doesn't mean there isn't a happy ending. Maybe it's just a different kind of happy ending than we've all been programmed to expect. While this book will bring great hope & comfort to women like Pamela & me, who have found themselves involuntarily childless at the end of their infertility journey (however long or short it may have been), or those contemplating such a future for themselves, it deserves a much broader audience. Anyone who has ever struggled with infertility, past or present, will recognize themselves in the pages of this book, no matter how they choose to resolve their situation. Fertile people also have a great deal to learn from Pamela's story.

You can order your copy of "Silent Sorority" through, or through the book's website.


  1. I'm just starting her book myself. Every single page has me nodding my head and shedding tears of understanding. We truly are a Silent Sorority -- with a hell of a hazing, if I do say so myself. :-)

  2. Great review. "The hard truth is, not all infertility stories end with a baby. But that doesn't mean there isn't a happy ending." I love that. How true, and how important to remember.

  3. I cannot wait to read it.

    Getting to "know" women who make it to the other side without children and thrive has helped me so much.

  4. Great review, Loribeth - I am looking forward to reading it, too. I completely agree that everyone, infertile or not, has a lot to learn from Pamela Jeanne's experience and perspective and insightful way of explaining it all.

  5. Thanks, Loribeth, for this wonderful review. It means a great deal coming from someone who has had such a wrenching, painful loss to overcome.