Sunday, October 26, 2008

'Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story' ...

At the beginning of the year, Mercurie challenged me to read one book of fiction per month in 2008 because he thinks we just don't read for pleasure enough anymore.

Earlier this afternoon, I finished reading Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story, written by my friend Matt Miller. Of course, Maybe Baby is not fiction, but I'm counting it as my monthly challenge selection because while it's non-fiction, it's a compelling story, the ending of which isn't really an ending because Matt continues to chronicle the journey on his blog.

You can read an excerpt and then buy it, of course, at or pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble. (That's where I bought my copy, one of three in stock, and the bookseller very kindly took the other two off the bottom shelf and put them on the top shelf of the next section, face out. I smiled and thanked her and said, "I would have done that if you didn't. A little guerilla marketing.")

Matt writes very honestly and very vividly about the trials and travails of attempting to conceive. There are moments that are funny and moments that are tender, but as he himself says about the book, "Mostly, it's a story about love."

While I don't read as many books as I should – my interest in reading waxes and wanes – I read this book quickly, eager to get to the last page yet sorry for it to end. And even though I knew how it would turn out, I was so drawn into the drama, so invested in their story and so rooting for their success, that when I came across the chapter heading, "Tourists, Birthdays, and the Red Blood of Failure," I actually said, softly, "Oh no."

No matter how many books I read or don't, though, it's the rare instance when a sentence or passage leaves me truly admiring a writer's talent. Matt is just a kid in my book – I have almost 10 years on him – but he has a very solid grasp on the meaning of life. The following excerpt, about the death of a friend, isn't representative of the book – the book overall is more witty and confessional – but it is representative of Matt's maturity and insight:

Church finally made sense to me in the presence of this baby and this acknowledgment of Joe's passing, and remembrance of his legacy became not about God or death or sadness, but about love.

Life in its purest form can never be contained, and the effect we have on others is immense and often unintended. Joe was laid to rest, Constance began her second round of Clomid, and that little girl probably went home to watch today's TiVoed episode of
Sesame Street and massage a bowl of cold cereal into her flaxen curls. Nothing ever really ends, nothing ever really stops — even when pieces of you die or you find yourself unable to get pregnant or live without your brother.

Somehow people keep on finding new ways to exist that honor the remnants and revisions of life, letting go of a vision that never really existed in the first place to embrace a world they didn't want.

Constance and my final picture wouldn't be a Van Gogh because that was an idealistic picture I painted in my head that had no basis in reality. After a string of anything's possible years, our plan for a perfect life of master's degrees, a stylish home, and two children felt attainable, but I now knew that not everything would be easy and not everything should be. As long as our picture rose above the insipid pandering of a Thomas Kincade landscape, I was willing to work harder for something I truly wanted. Losing two hundred and sixty pounds was proof that I could run a thousand circles for one chance at a straight line to the finish.

Joe's legacy, for me, was to remember that the straight line existed and that it was my responsibility to run as fast as possible until I found it.

As arduous as it was for them to conceive (yes, he and Constance are now expecting), as frustrating and heartbreaking as it was to measure the many months in negative pregnancy tests, his journey led him to this book, a book in which many couples, I'm sure, will find comfort and reassurance.

And, as they were both well aware through it all, no matter what happened, they had – they have – each other.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the thing about him losing 260 pounds?

10:10 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

He lost 260 pounds.

He was morbidly obese and now he's not.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Constance said...

Great post -- thank you!

1:49 PM  

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