Monday, March 26, 2007

Peggy Orenstein Responds

The Drowned Girl joined me in posting comments to Peggy Orenstein on the Josh Kornbluth Show Blogand Peggy responded!!! This is the power of the Internet at Work!!!

Peggy Orenstein | March 25th, 2007 at 8:13 pm
Hi, I’d just like to comment back to the two women above. You’re absolutely right that I got the miracle happy ending in terms of getting pregnant and having a baby. And honestly? I agree that the reason you see that “happy” ending and not the others is that publishers don’t think the other ones sell. That’s the bald truth. And, of course, in my case it wasn’t the story.

I felt I had a great story that was larger than the tale of the infertility itself, a really gripping yarn about a woman’s life. I also was concerned that I had the miracle ending and that wasn’t fair to a lot of women. So I worked very hard in the book to make sure that the baby wasn’t the exclamation point happy ending and that’s it, on we go. I felt that if that were the case, I would have failed.

That’s why I wrote the epilogue the way I did. I wanted to be clear that, despite having the “miracle” ending, there was a huge cost to my marriage, my life, and my finances in the process, and that there were some real questions about the infertility industry. What’s more, I don’t think I at all ducked the question of what would happen “without the miracle” as Drwoned Girl suggests. That’s the whole purpose of mulling what might’ve happend if the deus ex machina of the baby hadn’t dropped into our lvies (deus ex machina is the artificial or improbable device dropped into a literary work to create a happy endiing). I do pick at that thread, though obviously can’t draw conclusions, can’t know what would’ve happened. That’s also why I wrote the section in which Steven tells me not to get “revisionist,” that the baby does not justify the means by which we got there.

I think if there is a cautionary element to my tale (and by the way, Jade I would never have described myself as “too career focused”) it is that I forgot the things that could sustain me in crisis, the things that would be there whether or not I became a mother, the things, in fact, that feminism has given us: teh opportunity for meaningful work, the possibility of a parntership of equals, the potential to define ourselves fully and richly without being mothers. I lost sight of that. It sounds to me, Jade, that you have not and I admire you for that.

I also wanted at the end to have the opportunity to say a thing or two about fallacies about New Age and religious platitudes (God only gives you what you can stand; everything happens for a reason) and idiotic statements like, “if you adopt you’ll get pregnant.”

In those ways, I hoped the book would continue to reflect some of the experience and have relevance for those whose “ending” was different than mine: those who conceived via third party reproduction, via IVF or other technology, those who adopted, or those who decided to go on as a couple and forgo further attempts to have children.

In the end, though, this is my story and I wrote it as I experienced it and as it happened. It’s unclear to me, Drowned Girl, why you object to the inclusion of the botched donor cycle. Because you’re starting a cycle and don’t want to read about one that didn’t work out? That’s not really fair to me. I would’ve been thrilled to have had a baby via Jess’ egg, was fully prepared for THAT to be our happy ending/beginning, as I was fully prepared to become an adoptive parent if that had worked as well. But we had some very bad luck. That failed cycle, I’d wager to say, was harder for me to live through than it was for anyone to read. I sincerely hope your cycle works for you and it is certainly doubtful that you would have the same thing happen that we did!

You might be interested to know that my relationship with Jess has continued and deepend significantly over time–she is a true part of our family.

Happy to answer any other questions.

3 comments:

DG said...

Regarding the inclusion of the DE episode in the book, my sadness over it was not that the cycle was badly handled in the lab (no ICSI done) but feelings of concern for were for the young donor, who hadn't had her own children, let alone IVF.

It gave me pause for thought, because I want to be very considerate of my friend, in our egg donation. And of course, my friend has had children, and our relationship is very different from the mentor/mentee relationship of Peggy and Jess.

"Even as I hugged and comforted Jess, I fought the urge to turn away. I didn't want to see her vulnerability, didn't want to admit what this cost her... I grumbled to Steven I had done everything Jess was doing and more without a fuss; it wasn't such a big deal...despite my love and gratitude, I resented Jess, just a little, for being able to do what I could not."

The reason why I found the description so upsetting, was because it seemed there was an imbalance of power there.

Rae said...

*sigh* i don't even know what to say. Except her response was just crappy. What.ever.
rae
www.brokeneggs.wordpress.com

DG said...

I did think, her assumption that my distress about the DE cycle was the way the lab botched it, when in fact it was concern over the donor, was rather indicative!