Whilst we were very busy at the Fertility Show at the beginning of the month, someone ran up to me and pressed a book into my hands. I think she thanked me for talking to her during the writing of it…although I’m sad to say I couldn’t remember. Well, I’ve now got round to dipping into it and found it a useful addition to the growing literature detailing women’s experiences of IVF. The book in question is IVF An Emotional Companion by Brigid Moss, published by Collins. Brigid is a journalist and this is reflected in a style of writing that is fluent and easy to read. However, it is the format of the book that I particularly like. Each story – and she interviewed 22 women – has a different focus that as a whole cover most of the situations in which women need IVF for conception. This includes premature ovarian failure, post cancer treatment, needing to use an egg donor, partner having very low sperm count, whether or not to use immunology treatment, the dilemma of un-used embryos and many more. Although many stories have happy endings, others do not and she does not avoid the pain, distress and frustration of never ending treatment cycles and a harrowing account of miscarriage. But interwoven in the stories are wise words from doctors and others, like Zita West, the nutrition consultant, and Anya Sizer, a fertility coach, delivering information and ways of managing the turmoil. Best of all, I like the questions from Brigid to each woman following her story, such as “How has Freddie reacted to being an egg donor conceived child?” or “How did you explain about the baby to your boys” following a story where a surrogate had been needed to carry a child. These were just the sort of things I would have wanted to ask and often feel frustrated by when reading someone’s story and not being able to interact with them.
Despite the fact that DC Network is not included in the list of useful organisations at the back of the book – only Infertility Network UK and Fertility Friends get a mention – I think this is a valuable and supportive book that many women going through IVF will identify with and find comfort from.