Tania's Reviews > Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother

Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein
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Oct 04, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, memoir, female-centric
Recommended for: Couples trying to conceive, career women, anyone sympathetic to those who want to have families
Read in October, 2008, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** This isn't usually the kind of book I read. I'm not struggling with infertility - in fact, I'm not even wanting or trying to have kids right now. But I was compelled to read this book after stumbling across a poignant article written by the author (which was actually comprised of various elements of this book).

The book, like the aforementioned article, covers an interesting blend of topics - waiting "too long" to start a family after focusing solely on a career, and what it means to a feminist when suddenly her life is consumed with the desire to become pregnant, to the point where all her other accomplishments seem less important if she can not ultimately become a mother. Other interesting topics included thoughts on how miscarriage isn't very widely spoken of between women, even though many women have experienced it. When my best friend suffered a miscarriage, I was allowed a glimpse into this painful world, something I never really thought much about before, and I never realized how common it actually is. 50% of 1st time pregnancies end in miscarriage. Chances are, when I start trying to have children, especially as I near my 30s, I could have a miscarriage as well... that's scary to think about.

What grabbed me the most about the book was a specific chapter where the author has a miscarriage in Japan and seeks solace there by attending a shrine dedicated to mizuko (or water child - the term used to describe an aborted fetus). Reading about how Japanese people deal with this sensitive topic was fascinating, and yet it also resonated with me, particularly the author's thoughts on how she can be both pro-choice, and yet mourn the "life" of a fetus and the connection she felt with it. In Japan this isn't necessarily a conflict of interests, but a simply accepted duality.

I appreciated how honest the author was - sometimes uncomfortably so. She unflinchingly described her descent into infertility madness and how it consumed her and drove her poor, patient husband away. She certainly made no apologies for anything, even when she lied to those around her, and she didn't sugarcoat anything about the process - from doctors who revealed themselves to be businessmen, to an acupuncturist who deliberately seemed to manipulate the author into a sense of false hope.

But there was something that bothered me about the author. I began to wonder how much of her desire was in simply "becoming pregant" and "proving" she could bear a child on her own, versus how much her desire was to actually HAVE a child and BE a mother. She focused so much on the getting-pregnant aspect, and so little on her hopes for actual motherhood, that I felt there was a disturbing disconnect there.

Particularly when she had an opportunity to adopt a newborn baby from Japan and decided not to return the agency's phone calls, fill out the paperwork, or even tell her husband about it. This stunned me. If a child is truly what she wanted, then why would she be so opposed to such a thing? At first I thought it may be due to the fact that a part of her feared that having no "genetic" connection to the child would mean she could never really love it as her own child - a fear I'm sure many first time adopters have, (and which usually turn out to be unfounded.)

But that couldn't be the case because, a couple chapters later she was completely willing to take a young girl she had befriended, put her through the grueling process of extracting her eggs, then attempt to fertilize them with her husband's sperm, which not only excluded the author's genetic fingerprint from the baby-making process, but seemed somehow, as her husband joked, "adulterous".

This only seemed to emphasize the point that the author was not especially keen on the end-result as in actually having a successful pregnancy. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Even more so, when later on she and her husband begin the process of adopting another child from Japan.

They even go so far as to name him and "test drive" him for a few days in their hotel. The lack of emotion the author seemed to have, the lack of connection was extremely disturbing. Admittedly, the amount of bureaucracy they had to deal with in order to bring the child back to the states was astounding, and I can see how they would be frustrated and impatient. But if what you truly want is a child to love and raise, wouldn't you go through with it? Instead they give up on the Japanese baby and focus on the author's most recent pregnancy, which ultimately led to Daisy, for whom the book is named. A happy ending, indeed, and a surprising one, given what the author went through. So I guess it all worked out in the end... but I couldn't shake that feeling of unease.

Overall, the book was well written with some really poignant moments mixed with a good sense of humor. But I only hope that when I try start a family someday that I won't go to the lengths the author did... and if I am given the chance to adopt a newborn who needs a home, I won't turn it down.
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