Wednesday, July 09, 2008

BBBT-The Empty Picture Frame

The latest choice for the BBBT is The Empty Picture Frame by Jenna and Mike Nadeau. The book is a journal/memoir with interesting information for people that are unfamiliar with infertility. This was the book that I read aloud in the car on our vacation. While I found it very informative and supportive, my DH was actually disturbed by the realistic account of the IF treatments and it helped solidify his opinion that IVF is not the route that we should go. We had very different takes on the experiences recounted in the book but at the same time found some common ground on thoughts and feelings of both Jenna and Mike.

This is definitely a worthy read if you are at all interested in infertility and how it impacts some one's life. There are already two people on my "can I borrow that" list including the person who gifted it to me after I mentioned it briefly in passing one day. I hope that they get as much out of it as I did.

On to the Questions:

What one line from The Empty Picture Frame did you identify with and why? On Page 139 there is a journal entry written by Jenna about how difficult this journey can be on a marriage. I started crying while I was reading this section because of a few points in this passage where I felt she was dictating my thoughts but the line that really impacted me was a bit surprising: " In the midst of my emotional battles, I often misunderstood his level-headedness for ambivalence". For some reason, at that time, that line just truly spoke to me. Partially because I have felt this way at many moments along our journey and partially because I can't always quite read what my husband is feeling/thinking about this part of our lives. I still think some of his inaction is ambivalence but that has been more recent than when we were reading this book together.

The last chapter is a guide to the fertiles reading the book on how to respond and not respond to a situation. Some of the reactions and commentary has happened to many people. What was the best reaction you got to your story and what was the worst? The best reaction that I got was the person who asked "what's next?" It made me feel like they truly understood that this is not a dead end but that we need to find our path right now. The worst reaction has been my MIL who after telling us that she had plenty of grandchildren (4) when the youngest was born has now decided that we are wrong and that we will have children. Each time the topic come up (usually by her) she is more and more forceful that we will have children. She really hurt me at that time when she told us not to bother in the middle of a group and now it is just annoying that she is so totally convinced that we are wrong.

Jenna discusses how difficult it became for her to go to family events which centered on children while she remained childless. Have you had this experience too? How have you managed to cope with family gatherings? The hardest family events for me typically revolve around one of my "nieces". She is the youngest and my "probable but not confirmed" miscarriage occurred when my family member was about 4/5 months pregnant with her. Of course, since I was clueless at the time the impact was later on after discussing things with the drs about what happened. I am always very emotional around her birthday because if things had gone the way that it seems they should have she would have had a close playmate and well, I would be a mother now 4 years later, instead of still on the sidelines. I was really worried this year because there was a pregnant woman at her birthday party but I feel that I handled it with grace and while I was quiet, I wasn't crying so that is an improvement. Holidays are pretty hard on me in general just because as each one passes it means that more time has gone by and still my arms and heart are empty.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens ( You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.


Ellen K. said...

I've read several other IF memoirs and they haven't helped me determine treatments -- as I said in my review, this book also put me off IVF for awhile -- but it is always comforting to see another person's IF experience in print, as validation.

Sorry about your MIL!

JuliaS said...

Isn't it amazing how just a couple words can make a huge difference? Sentences that start with "At least . .. " usually end with me feeling even worse than before or ungrateful. "What's next?" sounds ever so much more hopeful and forward thinking than your mil's fervent proclamations that you WILL have children. She may think unswerving belief is what it takes and we can force the end result - but it actually ends up being more hurtful than supportive.

Great thoughts - thanks for sharing them!

loribeth said...

Interesting how your dh reacted to the book and the line about levelheadedness vs ambivalence. It's so hard to know sometimes what men are thinking (although I suppose they could say the same about us sometimes!!). I enjoyed the perspective that Mike added to the book.

Sorry about your MIL... but bravo to the person who asked you "So what's next?"

Samantha said...

I appreciated Jenna's honesty about IVF. It's interesting that you and your husband came to different conclusions about whether to do the treatment. I think it's good to get some first hand information about the treatment, no matter you decide, but in the end, because it is a big undertaking.

Sometimes I liked hearing, "what's next?" after a failed cycle, other times I liked just hearing "I'm sorry" because maybe I didn't even know what was next. Whatever the case, it's definitely more supportive than your MIL!

seattlegal said...

The line that you chose I also picked up on. Sometimes I wondered if I was the only one who truly wanted to go through all we did to have children. At the time,I felt I was pushing us to go to IVF - to do anything we had to in order to get pregnant. Now I know that isn't the case.

Thanks for your comments on the book!

Caba said...

It's funny, I guess because I didn't go through any other treatment but IVF, I don't think it was all that bad. Don't get me wrong, when we went to the class to learn about the shots, I cried my eyes out the whole way home thinking "I am never going to be able to do this!" ... but the anticipation was a million times worse than the reality.

Good luck on your journey, wherever it takes you next!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Made me want to throw an arm around your MIL and sweep her away for a little walk-and-talk so I can explain things to her :-)

I like that you both read the book and came to that common decision, but had a very different process to getting there. A worthy read.

anita said...

I too took Sgts levelheadedness during our cycles for ambivalence. Most definatly a man thing I think.

I'm sorry about you MIL, some times people think they are saying the right thing when they're not and it stings. Kudos to your friend for asking "what's next."

Great review.

Me said...

I read this about a year ago. Really liked it. Gave a copy to my MIL and SIL... although my SIL got kinda pissy about it...