A review of Inspiring IVF Stories: 24 Men And Women With Strength, Commitment And A Dream edited by Carolyn Martinez

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Inspiring IVF Stories: 24 Men And Women With Strength, Commitment And A Dream
By Carolyn Martinez
Hawkeye Publishing
RRP $26.95, ISBN 978-0-987 1909-0-1

I had six miscarriages.  Five of them happened before I successfully carried my first child, who is now sixteen years old.  Though the emotional and physical pain of those miscarriages has long since faded into full-on intensity of raising three wonderful children, reading Carolyn Martinez’ book Inspiring IVF Stories reminded me that, once upon a time, I almost gave up on getting pregnant.  If my doctor, a Newcastle based fertility specialist, hadn’t recommended that I keep trying (at one point I even asked him to work out odds for me), I might have thrown in the towel.  Because my problem was not around falling pregnant, but rather, carrying the pregnancy to term, IVF wasn’t an option for me, but nevertheless, there was a lot that I was able to relate to in the many stories in this book, including that awful rollercoaster of elation and disappointment, and the hormonal chaos that comes from being regularly pregnant but not carrying a child full term.

I found these stories moving and inspiring, reminding me, through the inevitable callenges that raising teens brings, just how much I wanted to have my children and how lucky my husband and I were to eventually carry three pregnancies to term. Inspiring IVF Stories traces the very different stories of twenty four people who have been through IVF.  Each chapter contains a separate story from each of the relevant partners, and in the case of Vicki and Shane, their teenage daughter Rachael also talks about her experiences as the IVF child.  There is also the story of a donor, as well as an open letter from a doula.  The stories are honest and open, going into a great deal of detail about exactly what these people had been through – both in terms of their own experience, and in terms of the impact on their partners, families, and friends. The stories are well-balanced and broad, exploring a wide range of stories from younger couples to older ones, a single parent, parents who struggle with the finances, parents who found IVF reasonably straightforward, and those who continue to struggle with unsatisfying outcomes.  Each story is illustrated with attractive black and white photos.

Many of the stories are ultimately good news stories – inspiring tales of people who, through perseverance, managed to finally have the family they always dreamed of.  There are other stories, including that of Martinez herself, where the outcome was not successful, though there is always another cycle.  No one sugar-coats the difficulties – and sometimes those difficulties are considerable. For anyone contemplating IVF, this book will be immensely valuable, providing a wealth of information and support.  For everyone else, the candid stories of these courageous people will prove engaging and inspiring.   Carolyn Martinez clearly cares about her subject matter and has done an excellent job in pulling together a much needed book.

About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sublime Planet, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at www.magdalenaball.com.