Fertility and Age - A Big Lie?
How ironic that the day I write a blog about fertility and age, addressing fear and the emotions around NOT being old at 20, or 30, or 40, or 50, I read in Cosmopolitan about maternal aging. Otherwise known as, “why didn’t anyone tell me that I may feel young, I may look young, I may BE young in terms of my overall lifespan, but, and wait for drum roll; my eggs are not young”.
Tanya Selvaratnam had that experience, which she speaks about in her interview in Cosmo with Liz Welch, titled "The Big Lie About Your Fertility". Her response? She got mad. She got mad because she felt that once again, women didn’t know enough about their fertility or the true workings of their biological clocks. Not enough to make truly informed decisions about when to have babies. Or if they were deciding not to have babies without even realizing it.
On Motherhood, Feminism, and the Biological Clock
Here’s a little bit about what Tanya had to say about her book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism and the Reality of the Biological Clock.
In Cosmo, she answers the question about what The Big Lie means:
“What is the Big Lie?
There are actually several. The biggest is that we can become mothers on our own timetable. Another one is that we can manipulate evolution. There are some people who so badly want to believe that we can control the biological clock with science and reproductive technology. But that is only because we are not really aware of the statistics. As many as 77 percent IVF cycles fail — but we only hear the success stories. People don’t share their stories of loss as readily. I thought if I could speak publically about my story, then other people share theirs, too. These heartbreaking scenarios — of women who gave up after five failed rounds of IVF, for example — can balance the more optimistic ones. It’s not about making people panic. It is about giving them accurate information.”
I had two distinct and opposing reactions to reading this article.
My first was, bravo! We need for women to hear this message, for doctors to hear this message, for our society to hear this message. I particularly liked her idea about fertility charts in Obstetrician/Gynecologists offices. Just like knowing about pap smears and mammograms, understand your fertility. Absolutely. What an inspiring idea; a simple, direct and visionary way to change the way women are educated about their own fertility. The way that feminism was addressed in this article was bold. Tanya is clear and articulate about the play between motherhood and feminism. Here’s what she had to say about it:
"Has feminism played a role in this misconception that women can wait to become mothers?
Feminism advocates for a world where women can pursue their ambitions — it did not tell women to not become mothers. Instead, it told them all the things they could do aside from being a mother. It may have created a tension between feminism and motherhood, but it’s a false tension. If you look at the advances that feminism has made for motherhood — daycares at work, baby seats, breastfeeding education and more, these are all specific concerns women have around being mothers. One of the big lies I address is that we don’t need feminism anymore. We need it more than ever."
My second reaction was that we’ve been talking about this for years. Decades even. This is neither the first nor will it be the last book to discuss these very same issues. Wonderful that is being said again. I love that. I love more that the very issues that she says are not being talked about, I hear talked about all the time. Women, many women, are more and more clear about looking at conception as a time driven issue. In speaking to women in varied work fields, I find so many acutely aware, as early as in their 20’s, that conception is something to factor in. I often hear that there is not an assumption that conception will come easily and they are prepared for needing and getting help.
Making Plans and Understanding Choices is More than a Woman’s Issue
I’m glad this book is out there. Anything to help spread the word. And most especially, getting feminism on the side of motherhood and discontinuing that ridiculous idea that it’s one or the other. Just as careers and motherhood are not one or the other; neither are feminism and motherhood, one or the other.
We are women. We are multi-faceted, with many different interests. We all deserve to know the truth. We deserve to know it early; we deserve to know it accurately. We deserve to hear it from our health care providers so that we can strategize planning our families. I liked that a lot, that phrase. Strategizing having your family.
Making plans and understanding your choices is more than a woman’s issue. It’s society’s issue. Supporting women making choices, early and in time to avoid regrets is one of the messages that I got from this interview.
And for that alone, I will buy and read the book.
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Interview with RMACT Author Katlyn Duncan
I love interviewing people when they are passionate about a part of their lives that they want to share. How fortunate that I work with a very talented group of people. Today, I’d like you to meet one very special person: Katlyn Duncan. Katlyn has written and published a book that we want you to know about. So, rather than me tell you about it, here’s Katlyn’s comments on “Soul Taken”. If there are questions that I should have asked but didn’t and that you would like to ask Katlyn, post them here on the blog; I’ll make sure they get to her.
- Lisa: Tell us what you want us to know about the book. We want to know the title, the plot and the audience you are hoping to reach.
- Katlyn: The title of the book is Soul Taken; it is the first in an upper young adult paranormal trilogy called The Life After. Soul Taken follows Maggie, a Soul Collector (a transporter of souls from the Living Realm to the After Realm) who finds herself stuck inside of a teen girl’s body after her latest mission goes awry. I am hoping to reach a wide audience from teens to adults alike. I think YA (Young Adult) titles are reaching a wider audience nowadays and I’d love to be a part of that mix.
- Lisa: How did the idea of writing a book come to you?
- Katlyn: This one came to me about four years ago and it actually started with a question, “What would happen if a reaper got stuck inside of a human?” From there (and four drafts later) it formed into this book.
- Lisa: Why a book in this genre or style?
- Katlyn: I enjoy reading all different genres, but a few years ago I read my first paranormal which was Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong; after that I’ve been hooked on the genre so it was only natural for me to write in it.
- Lisa: Has the book been in your head and heart, just waiting to come out? Or did it take sitting down and writing before it started to really take form?
- Katlyn: When the question popped into my head, I immediately sat down and wrote it. Through rewrites it really started to form and then through research on how to properly structure a novel the final product was more cohesive.
- Lisa: How long did it take to write the book?
- Katlyn: About four years total. But I started off writing for fun. I didn’t start to get serious about my writing until almost two years ago.
- Lisa: Do you have a favorite character? If so, why?
- Katlyn: This is so tough because I love them all!! But if I had to choose I’d say Maggie. I don’t want to be cliché because she is the main character, but she is courageous and outgoing, something I aspire to be. And it is so fun writing in her voice.
- Lisa: Does the book have personal relevance for you?
- Katlyn: In a way, it was the starting point for me to get my words out there. Each time I tried something new I always went back to it as if deep down I knew this book was born to be published. Also, I never knew my paternal grandfather and sometimes I found myself wondering where he was and “if” there ever was an afterlife I would think it was like the one described as the After in the book. It is what I’d imagine for him.
- Lisa: What authors are you inspired by?
- Katlyn: Oh so many! Again I love Kelly Armstrong because she is an amazing world-builder. Melissa Marr’s writing struck a chord with me with her Wicked Lovely series and I always strive to make my readers feel the way she made me feel in that book. J.K. Rowling is just amazing and I am inspired by her Harry Potter world. I love Jane Austen for her romances and happily ever afters. Stephen King for his darker themes. James Patterson for his short chapters. And the list goes on!
- Lisa: What would you tell someone who loves to write, about creating their own book?
- Katlyn: Read a lot and write a lot. I used to run a book review website and I developed a critical eye for books (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not). I know what I like and when I don’t like something I try and figure out why. Then I use that for my writing. I always write what I like. I like to tell stories that I would enjoy reading, and with that comes a lot of practice. I will give the same advice that I was given from E.L. James (50 Shades of Grey) at her signing last year. And even though I’ve read this advice a million times while stalking other published author’s websites, it’s a bit different when someone says it to your face. I told her I was a writer and I wanted to get published and how I should do that. She looked up at me and said, “Stop talking about it and do it.” Writing can be hard some days and easy peasy the next but to actually finish a novel is an accomplishment and you can’t do that without sitting your butt in your chair and getting the words out.
- Lisa: Do you see a future for the book? Will we be able to follow our favorite characters farther along?
- Katlyn: I am contracted for 2 more books in the series so you will see a future for Maggie and her friends!
- Lisa: Why an ebook? Can I get your book in print?
- Katlyn: My publisher is the newest digital imprint from Harlequin UK called Carina UK (carinauk.com). This imprint is “digital-first” meaning my books will be available on all e-reader formats. But that doesn’t mean it won’t ever get printed. If there is enough of a demand then they will print. And one of the best parts of being with a digital-first company is that there are no printing delays so you will get the book faster. We are aiming to have the next book, Soul Possessed, out this fall and the final book (title TBA) around Christmas time.
- Lisa: Where can we get in touch with you?
- Katlyn: You can check out my website (katlynduncan.com) for all of my social media links and email. Feel free to email/Tweet/Facebook me with questions or just to chat!
Here’s a very short bio for Katlyn Duncan. Let’s obviously add author to it as well!
Since August 2012, Katlyn Duncan is the Andrology and Endocrinology Supervisor at RMACT. She has two Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of New Haven in Forensic Science and General Biology. She is so pleased to be a part of the amazing RMACT team!
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
I'm reading a book called "Here's the Bright Side- of Failure, Fear, Cancer, Divorce and Other Bum Raps". This is most decidly not a best seller. It was written in 2007 by Betty Rollin, who is a writer and a TV journalist. The book was a give away by my library due to overcrowding and under interest in the book.
Sometimes one person's giveaway is another person's treasure.
I have found many treasures in this book. For the record, for the most part, I believe that in the midst of infertility and fertility treatment, you will not enjoy this book. I believe the bright side and silver lining, in the middle of treatment, is too challenging to find. But I think, maybe, you can hear bits and pieces here.
What the author has to say about "the prize" that goes way beyond learning to cope, is what I am savoring. Her discussion about the Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, who talks about the "psychological immune system that defends the mind against unhappiness." What a concept, that much like the body, the mind also has an immune system that kicks in when needed to protect itself.
She also talks about gratitude. Which of course makes me think of Kristin Magnacca, another of my favorite authors, who recommends a gratitude journal. I love it. When life feels both overwhelming and overbearing, I often will turn to the gratitude journal that I keep.
Betty Rollins talks about how we often feel grateful after a loss or crisis and not as often when life is going along pretty smoothly. That it's those heart wrenching situations that make us sit up and realize what we are made of.
Which brought me to thinking about a conversation that I had with Dr. Joshua Hurwitz the other day. When he announced that he regularly makes patients cry, as matter of fact as could be, I was flabbergasted. He is constantly getting accolades from our patients, as well as patient and peer awards for not only his medical expertise, but his gentle handling of the emotional end of things.
But I got what he meant, he tells patients lots of things that are upsetting, and even as well as he does it, we get upset. There were a few paragraphs in the book that spoke to this point eloquently.
Betty Rollins talks about her surgeon and how much she loves him. She writes about how she loves him, because in retrospect, she realizes that he lied to her. That he became her protector, realizing that she could not hear the truth in that minute. Knowing that she had to assimilate maybe before she could hear, "yes, cancer".
That made him the best doctor for her. Just as Dr. Hurwitz's unfailing gentleness makes it possible for his patients to cry when they need to. After all, what's the alternative? We all know the answer. We cry when we leave. We cry in the elevator, on the stairs, in the car, on the phone with our partner. Instead, Dr. Hurwitz makes it safe to have the human response of crying right then and there.
The bright side of infertility? Gratitude about infertility? Are either of those things possible to see without a positive pregnancy test or baby in arms?
There are many more bits in this book that make me grateful that I rescued it from a possibly early demise. And none of it keep me from understanding that seeing a bright side is not always possible nor does it make it anyone's fault or problem if they can't.
Just being able to put Dr. Hurwitz's comments into perspective made picking up the book worthwhile.
I love sharing what I am reading with you. Books are an integral part of my life, my days, and my evenings. If I have nothing new, (usually because my library has a poster with my picture on it and a wanted slogan underneath) then I reread something. I’ve been known to sit down and read a milk carton, for lack of other things to read. One unexpected joy was reading Robert Heinlein for lack of a single other book to read on a vacation. Never liked science fiction before that and fell in love with the genre after that.
During my struggles with infertility, books were especially important as a place where I could dive in and disappear. They became an alternate universe; a place where I lived outside of myself.I credit books with helping me keep the sanity that I had during fertility treatment.
So I’m reading Anne Lamott, whom I love. A friend commented on how religious based her writing was and was surprised that piece didn’t turn me off. I believe that’s one of the reasons that I love her books because I see them as faith based, or spiritually based, rather than simply religious based. She has her own religion which she shares with the reader, but she does not push it on you. Or at least I feel that she has shared, not pushed.
In her book, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith, a memoir, therefore non-fiction, she talks about growing up, falling down, getting up and so on and so forth. There is a chapter in the book called Hunger, where she speaks about her relationship with food and the eating disorder she struggled with. She doesn’t sugar coat a thing; she allows us to see the battles that she fights without minimizing the size of the battle.
“It is, finally, so wonderful to have learned to eat, to taste and love what slips down my throat, padding me, fill me up, that I’m not uncomfortable calling it a small miracle. A friend who does not believe in God says, “Maybe not a miracle, but a little improvement,” but to that I say Listen! You must not have heard me right; I couldn’t feed myself! So thanks for your input, but I know where I was, and I know where I am now, and you just can’t get here from there. Something happened that I had despaired would ever happen. It was like being a woman who has despaired of ever getting to be a mother but who now cradles a baby. So it was either a miracle- Picasso said, “Everything is a miracle; it’s a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar”- or maybe it was more of a gift, one that required some assembly. But whatever it was, learning to eat was about learning to live- and deciding to live; and it is one of the most radical things I’ve ever done.“
I know that you are working on a miracle. I know that you are counting on science and medicine and even statistics to help get you there. Perhaps learning to feed ourselves, whether it is literally about food, or it’s about enjoying a moment or two in the middle of a two week wait or it’s about feeling like you can move forward when you hear bad news, perhaps that is the miracle too.
I do believe in miracles and I do believe they can seem very small, even when they make the moment blossom and become shiny and vibrant. There is nothing small about the miracle that you are hoping and striving for; just keep those eyes open for the smaller miracles that happen along the way.