Books are for reading (Creative Commons, Flickr, Andew Hefter)

Why books on childlessness suck

I can honestly tell you that I am yet to find one book about miscarriage or infertility that I actually want to read. They’ve either been written to depress you, confuse you with statistics and crazy diets or rub it in by writing about their ‘journey’ now that they’ve got three kids and a puppy. The book covers are even worse, an empty cot, an empty swing, a woman with empty arms – basically pictures of empty things just to make sure you’ve really grasped the crapness of your situation. Christian books aren’t any better, with talk about deliverance from childlessness and yet more pictures of empty things and women dressed in white standing alone on the edge of a cliff or cupping their hands around their tummies to illustrate where their empty womb is. If the pictures weren’t bad enough the titles are enough to force you to crack open that bottle of wine someone brought round the other week or eat a whole box of chocolates/bag of Doritos without coming up for air. Just for fun I’ve listed a a few of my favourite, gut wrenching titles:

‘When the Cradle is Empty’
‘Empty womb, aching heart’
‘God’s fertility clinic’ (pretty sure that’s not on the NHS)
‘When the womb is empty’
‘Cradle of dreams’
Or there’s the more direct approach from a book titled ‘Give us a Child’

when a husband's infertile

We may not be able to have children but gee-whiz this bible sure is fun!

The winner for me has to be the factually titled ‘When a husband is infertile’, coupled with an 80’s photo of a couple smiling and reading the Bible together. It’s the juxtaposition of the image and the title that really nailed it for me, if your husband had just found out he was infertile surely the last thing you’d do is go get a perm and then read the Bible together.

So, in light of this desperate situation and inspired by my comedy heroine Amy Poehler who suggested some titles for a book series on divorce in her memoir Yes Please, I’ve decided to do the same. Here’s my pitch for some titles for a series of books on Childlessness…..

1. HEXAGONAL PESSARIES

This is more of a handbook for those just starting out in the world of infertility and doctor’s appointments. There are a lot of things that happen in gynae appointments that no one ever talks about again, and I for one wish women did talk about them because then I’d have had some idea of what to expect when my legs were stirrups and a doctor is telling me to ‘just relax’. A doctor’s explanation of what is about to happen does nothing to prepare you for the size or shape of the instrument he’s about to use, which is why you need this book! Each chapter will describe the different procedures in clear, easy to understand language, it will include cartoon diagrams, an ‘ouch!! factor’ rating and advice on the best way to treat yourself after the appointment. If you’ve never had an internal scan or are about to embark on your first hysteroscopy then this book is for you.

Chapters Include:

  • IT’S AN ULTRASOUND SCAN JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT!! (the difference between an internal ultrasound and the ultrasound you’ve seen on the telly)
  • TORCHES AREN’T JUST FOR CAMPING
  • WHY IT’S A GOOD THING YOUR CONSULTANT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE GEORGE CLOONEY
  • JUST RELAX

2. BUSINESS TIME

Did you just hold your husband’s hand and get pregnant? This book is not for you. Did you just look at a calendar when you decided to ‘try’ for a baby to make sure it wouldn’t clash with your holiday in the Canaries? This book is not for you. This book is for those who’ve been ‘trying’ for so long that making a baby has become more about coordinating diaries than romance. This is book is written for all those who are ‘ttc’ – trying to conceive. Your diary looks something like Homeland’s Carrie Mathison’s living room wall, charting temperatures, saliva, dates and ovulation kit results. You know more about your body than you ever wanted to know, you’re caffeine-starved mind is panicking about getting down to business in this tiny window of opportunity whilst trying to be sexy at the same time, all without the help of a big glass of wine. Well, this book is here to make you feel slightly less crazy and to remind you that you’re not alone.

Chapters Include:

  • STICKS AND HOW TO PEE ON THEM
  • GET HOME NOW!!!!!
  • ARE WE DOING IT RIGHT?
  • LOOSE TROUSERS AND OTHER WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR HUSBAND’S LITTLE SWIMMERS
  • JUST RELAX

3. WE’RE ALL PART OF ONE BIG CHURCH “FAMILY”

Have you ever dreaded the words ‘All Age Service’? Or half-heartedly joined in with an action song? Then this book is for you. Churches can be great, they’re one of the few places where all ages gather together in one place to create a big, beautiful, messy community, but this doesn’t mean it’s always easy to be a part of. This book is for all those who are struggling to survive in a church that’s full of young families. Maybe your church leader is one of those guys who married his first girlfriend, has three biblically named kids who feature in all his sermon illustrations and just hasn’t thought that for some people talking about family can be painful. Maybe the young adults who used to be in your youth group are now flashing baby scan photos in your face whilst you’re brain’s trying to do the maths to work out how many years younger than you they are. Maybe you’re tired of well-meaning old ladies asking if you’re pregnant and having to confess that you’ve just put on a bit of holiday weight. Maybe you’re trying to avoid the prayer warriors who were convinced you’d be pregnant by now. Or maybe you feel out of your depth when a young mum asks you to pray for her because her baby isn’t ‘latching on’. This book talks openly about the moments when you wish you weren’t in church, whilst trying to encourage you not to lose faith in the idea of church family even if you wish you weren’t part of it right now.

Chapters Include:

  • NOT ANOTHER ACTIONS SONG
  • WHY PUNCHING YOUR CHURCH LEADER FOR PREACHING YET ANOTHER SERMON ABOUT BEING A DAD ISN’T/IS A GOOD IDEA
  • WHEN THE LAYING ON OF HANDS IS NOT APPROPRIATE
  • PRAYING FOR CRACKED NIPPLES AND OTHER AWKWARD PRAYER REQUESTS
  • JUST RELAX

4. OH, I’D NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT

Ever heard the one about a couple who decided to adopt and then got pregnant? Or the one about the holiday? You know, when the couple went away on holiday and came back pregnant? Then this is the book for you. Everyone wants to help and you kind of love them for it but you also kind of don’t love them for it. You thank them for their kind research, or for sharing the story of their mum’s neighbour’s cousin’s daughter but what they don’t know is that you’ve already heard that story at least five times. You’re trying to relax, you went on holiday, you’ve bought your husband those expensive vitamin supplements, you’ve looked at adoption on line, you’ve stopped drinking, having late nights and basically not having any fun but still you’re not pregnant. This book covers the most popular stories and advice as well as providing suggestions on how to respond.

Chapters include:

  • FAKE SMILING
  • IF YOU WANT A KID WHY DON’T YOU JUST ADOPT?
  • I KNOW!!!! YOU CAN USE MY WOMB!
  • JUST RELAX

5. HOW TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK

This book is for those who have offered silent smiles to those who tell them how lucky you are that you aren’t woken up early/can lie in/can go out when you want to/go to the loo when you want to/go on holiday during term time/sit through a sermon without being interrupted/have a clean house/don’t smell of baby sick. Yes, those things are true but you’d still trade it all in an instant if it meant you could have a child. This book gently offers suggestions of how to survive the days when you’re childless and you wish you weren’t.

Chapters include:

  • THAT’S IT !!!! I’M NEVER CHECKING FACEBOOK AGAIN!!!
  • NOT ALL BABIES ARE CUTE
  • REASONS WHY YOU DESERVE THAT NEW TOP/HAIRSTYLE/HOLIDAY/NIGHT OUT/SPA DAY
  • JUST RELAX