Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book: "I'm Taking My Eggs & Going Home" by Lisa Manterfield

I think I found the blog Life Without Baby sometime last summer. As always, I love finding new blogs & websites aimed at women like me, who are trying to carve out a meaningful life after loss & infertility... and I quickly became a fan of Lisa Manterfield's keen and witty observations about childless living.

So I was happy to read this fall that she had written a book. It was the very first book that I downloaded to my brand-new Kobo e-reader (which I promptly lost -- & blogged about here!) & also ordered the book just as soon as it became available on Amazon.

"I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home" is a welcome addition to the small but growing niche of infertility books written by & about women who wanted and planned to become mothers someday, but wound up taking a ride on the ALI merry-go-round -- & getting off without having grabbed the brass ring of motherhood.

Needless to say, I was predisposed to like this book from the start -- and it did not disappoint -- starting with the unforgettable, sassy title & whimsical cover photo. : )

As you might expect, even though I estimate she's a decade younger than me, I recognized a lot of myself in Lisa's story (although there were significant differences too). For example, Lisa describes how her mother used to use a needle swinging from a thread over a woman's bare palm to determine how many children she'd have, and how many of each gender. I had this done many times in my younger days & the result was always the same: two boys and a girl. Consistent, yes; correct, no. ; ) Reading about Jose's Latino family & their exuberant weddings reminded my of my own Italian husband (the spoiled firstborn male cousin on both sides of his family, & the only boy for several years) and in-laws.

Born & raised in England, Lisa grew up assuming she would be a mother one day (so did I, although I was born & raised in Canada). Like me, however, she also grew up assuming that she would get an education, establish a career, experience something of life, and find Mr. Right before settling down & having a child.

After spending her 20s with a couple of Mr. Wrongs, moving to California, hitting her 30s and realizing her biological clock is ticking, Lisa's Mr. Right finally shows up. Jose had a vasectomy after producing two children (now adults) during his first marriage (a not uncommon scenario among many involuntarily childless women I've encountered over the years), but undergoes a successful reversal. Thus begins Lisa & Jose's journey to possible parenthood, which follows a path familiar to those of us who have struggled with infertility -- that is, it takes us to some pretty strange places where, gradually, we find ourselves doing things we never, ever thought we would do.

Lisa decides, after visiting a fertility clinic early in her journey, that IVF was not for her -- and, perhaps admirably, perhaps foolishly -- she sticks to her guns. (I never did IVF either.) But she tries everything else, from diet and yoga to accupuncture and Chinese medicine. As her dream of having a biological child begins to fade, she & Jose explore adoption and foster parenting. Ultimately, they decide these routes are not for them either.

I don't think I'm giving too much away if I say that the ending, where an emotional visit to a cemetery helps Lisa come to terms with her childlessness, had me reaching for the Kleenex. I enjoyed this book tremendously, and look forward to reading more from Lisa in the future.

For a slightly different take on this book, you can read reviews from Pamela (who wrote a kick-ass, award-winning book of her own about her personal journey to childfree living, Silent Sorority) & Lily.


  1. I am desperate to get my hands on this book LOL

    I do have a Q re your review.

    You said...

    "Lisa decides, after visiting a fertility clinic early in her journey, that IVF was not for her -- and, perhaps admirably, perhaps foolishly -- she sticks to her guns."

    Why foolishly?

    Merely curious and guess wanting you to expand your thoughts on it!


  2. Thanks, Loribeth, for yet another reminder that although we didn't end up on the path we once envisioned we're no less nurturing to each other. I am heartened that women continue to speak up and describe the indescribable in such warm, heartfelt and encouraging ways.
    p.s. I was able to read all the way through feeling total composure until the cemetery scene. The tears came from deep inside and obscured my ability to read, but they felt cathartic at the same time.

  3. thanks - i'll look for this one for my Kobo, too.

  4. Ruby -- I probably didn't put that as well as I should have -- I probably should have added something like "depending on your viewpoint." I'm sure some people will think Lisa was foolish for not pursuing IVF (& I'm sure some people think the same about me), since it supposedly offers the best odds for pregnancy. It's there, it's worked for others, if it works it's worth the money & stress, so why not try it, right?

    But everyone's limits are different. I'm one of those who admires her for knowing hers. ; )

  5. So glad that you enjoyed Lisa's book, too. I love how we each read it yet gleen different and important messages from it.

    Thank you for using your voice to bring light to Lisa's words and help her (and all of us!) be heard by many more.

  6. Thanks for the post, I followed your links and I'll be getting the book too!

  7. I just got my copy in the mail today, so I will be finishing it within a day or two!

  8. Another one to add to my list of books to read. And in answer to a question you asked of me--I have just recently read "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" (at the advice of my therapist). My husband read it after me and--in response to a well-intentioned comment about God having reasons for things--I mailed a copy to my husband's grandmother. :)

  9. Lori,
    Thank you so much for this lovely review. I know from reading other people's books how it feels when you can relate to a simialr but different story. I'm very glad my story spoke to you.

    Thanks also to all you other wonderful ladies for your support. It really means a lot to have you cheering me on!



  10. I put this on my reading list & have had my Kindly on my wish list for quite some time!

  11. Thanks for posting this, I am definitely going to read this book. I need to read about this journey from my current perspective as I decide to live child free. This has not been a popular decision IRL and I need some other perspective to get me through. Your blog also being one place I come to feel like I am not alone. :)