Infertility in the Bookstore

Life is a bookstore. You can find me in Infertility.

Life is like a bookstore; you never know what section you’ll end up in.

At least that’s been my experience.

Applying to colleges, I read every college guide book on the shelf.

During a tough break-up with an ex-boyfriend, I found myself in the self-help relationship section.

On my quest to run a faster marathon, I’ve spent hours in the running sections.

During my graduate work, I geeked out in the technology, art and education aisles.

When Mr. T and I got engaged, I tried to nurture my non-existent bridezilla in the wedding planning section.

When we bought our first house, I studied up in the real estate aisle.

Throughout my career, I’ve done my time in the business and marketing section.

Then finally, back in August, the day Mr. T and I saw the heartbeat of the bean we thought would become our baby, I allowed myself to enter a section of the bookstore I previously avoided like the plague: the pregnancy book section.

For the two years before that, I had haunted the infertility section which is cruelly located directly behind the pregnancy section. Whoever designed this layout clearly wasn’t thinking of the fragile emotional state of infertile women. I’d skulk in and out of my aisle, trying to grab the infertility books I wanted before a pregnant lady came by, mistaking my aisle for hers.

The conversation would go something like this:

Glowing pregnant lady: “What section is this? Are these the pregnancy books?”

Me: “No, this is the ‘I can’t make a baby’ section.”

Glowing pregnant lady: “Oooh… sorry,” giving me a pained look full of sympathy.

So when I graduated to the pregnancy section, I timidly but proudly walked into the ‘what to expect when you are finally-expecting’ aisle. To my surprise, I still felt like an interloper here. Was it my imagination or were these glowing pregnant women giving me funny looks? It was as if I could hear them ask one another, “Why is SHE here? SHE doesn’t belong here.”

But I was going to have my moment even if my infertile complex mixed with early pregnancy nausea meant vomiting all over them.

As if to test my resolve, the skinny young pregnant lady said to her pregnant friend:

“You know what I love most about being pregnant? I love I can eat whatever I want because it’s all for the baby.”


I blocked them out, and stood silently looking at all the titles, a feeling of gratitude washing over me. I was here with all these books I thought would never be meant for me. The What To Expect books, the Baby Name books, the Pregnancy Step-by-Step books. I wanted them all.

But at the same time, I think I knew deep down that my struggle wasn’t over.

I finally let myself get the classic “What to Expect Book” along with an “Eating for Pregnancy” cookbook.

I took my books home and promptly fell asleep on the couch.

One week later, I was no longer pregnant. I pulled out the “What to Expect When You are Expecting” book to see what it had to say about miscarriage- and of course was disappointed with the less-than-helpful information.  This was afterall a book about what to expect.

Now those books are at the back of a dark top shelf.

After another miscarriage in December, my present location in the bookstore is “recurrant pregnancy loss.” Same section as infertility, just a different shelf.

I still hear the pregnant ladies on the other side of the aisle. I hope one day I’ll join them again. I hope one day I’ll move over into the parenting section, three shelves over on that aisle.

But I’ll always know that on the other side of that happy aisle, just the width of two books away, are infertility and loss.


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15 thoughts on “Infertility in the Bookstore

  1. serendipitie February 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm Reply

    No matter when we graduate, we will never become those idiot fertiles that have no idea about life, loss and disappointment. And I think that makes us better. Yes, I am an elitist infertile. LOL

    • Jess February 24, 2011 at 7:13 am Reply

      We are pretty special, aren’t we? 🙂

  2. sunnymama February 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm Reply

    Another beautiful post! You are going to be a wonderful mum when you get to that parenting section. I hope you get there soon. xx

    • Jess February 24, 2011 at 7:15 am Reply

      Thank you so much. I hope so too. I know where the adoption section is too- so I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up there before I end up in the parenting section. But I still hope so much to get to experience the pregnancy section first. Thank you for your kind words.

  3. NinjaFertile February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm Reply

    Sometimes if I accidentally wander into the maternity section at Target, and it makes me feel like an alarm should go off, and I back out looking and feeling guilty, as if I had no right to be there and would get tossed out at any minute. “Hey! That lady’s not pregnant! WTF is she doing in this section?” Then I get mad for allowing myself to feel inferior to fertile myrtles. Then people start to stare because the lady is talking to herself.

    So yeah, I’ve been there. Here’s hoping we all get to enter the pregnancy section of the bookstore soon.

    • Jess February 24, 2011 at 7:16 am Reply

      Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one! Hope we both get to check out the pregnancy section and maternity wear soon. Thanks for posting- so nice to know I’m not alone with these feelings.

  4. unfertilized February 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm Reply

    I love this post! I can totally relate to everything you are saying. I too love bookstores and turn to them first to help navigate life’s latest twists and turns, and I am with you on having navigated all areas in the infertility section (I realized recently that I think I’ve posted in every section of the online fertility forum I’m on, from pregnancy loss, to IUI, to alternative remedies, to ttc 2+ years, and now to IVF, really everything but due date buddies and parenting after fertility. Sigh). And don’t even get me started on pregnant women….

    • Jess February 24, 2011 at 7:20 am Reply

      So true- the only section I haven’t posted to in my fertility forum is adoption and parenting too of course. If it takes adoption to get to parenting, I know that will be a positive path too. But still I hope for a pregnancy experience first.

      Thanks for reading and your kind words.

  5. Keiko February 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm Reply

    I was really moved by this post. So beautifully, painfully put. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Moon February 24, 2011 at 11:37 am Reply

    Such a lovely post Jess, one that really moved me. Life is full of twists and turns, full of challenges that make us stronger and make us who we are today . . . I believe our journey will lead us to that aisle one day soon, one day very soon I hope.
    Moon x

    • Jess February 25, 2011 at 2:44 am Reply

      Thanks, Moon. I hope we are both near that final twist in the road, and on the homestretch now. xx

  7. myTTCstory February 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm Reply

    That is so well put, Jess. I have a similar feeling when I’ve been admiring a nice, floaty top only to realise I’m in the maternity section of a clothes shop standing next to the most heavily pregnant lady I’ve ever seen.

    Your posts are so well written that I have awarded you a Stylish Blogger award! See

    • Jess February 25, 2011 at 2:43 am Reply

      Thank you for the award and kind words! Hopefully one day we’ll be in the pregnancy aisle in our floaty maternity shirts. That’s a topic for another day- is it my imagination or is the general fashion these days geared toward pregnant ladies?

  8. missohkay February 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm Reply

    Isn’t it amazing how unhelpful the pregnancy books are for miscarriage despite 20% of pregnancies ending that way? Mine had like a half a page that said “miscarriage is common. don’t drink or smoke. be healthy.” Wow, thanks.

    • Jess March 4, 2011 at 2:26 am Reply

      Exactly! I guess I should quit smoking and drinking and that will solve all my problems. HA!

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