Author Sheila Lamb, the friendliest woman in the fertility community, has written a guest blog to mark the start of National Fertility Awareness Week.
In this post, she recommends her top 5 infertility books.
Sheila Lamb had a six-year infertility journey that involved a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, two unsuccessful fertility treatment cycles, an early pregnancy loss after a donor egg cycle, investigations into natural killer cells and thrombophilia, and a successful second donor egg cycle. Her rainbow baby was born in 2011, a week after her forty-seventh birthday. This life-changing experience has led her to support the trying to conceive (TTC) and baby loss communities, by publishing her This is fertility book series – a collection of true-life short stories, straight from the heart about the emotional realities of infertility, IVF, the two-week wait, and loss, from women and men who are passionate about offering their support.
Sheila has 10,000 FREE copies of her ebook ‘This is Trying to Conceive’ to give away.
Scroll down to find out how you can download your copy.
Here, in no particular order, are Sheila’s top 5 books about infertility.
1. Semen Secrets, by TJ Peyten
- Semen Secrets by TJ Peyten
Male factor infertility (MFI) is even more taboo a subject than infertility; male factor infertility in the African-American culture is likely to cause much head scratching and shaking of heads, because isn’t it the ‘woman’s fault’? It isn’t often someone is willing to share about their infertility journey, and especially when the cause of the infertility is male factor. The author writes an honest and raw account of how her husband’s lack of sperm affected both of them – that he became unrecognisable to her, she had to keep this a secret which meant she had no support and felt so alone, she didn’t like herself or her thoughts, and how dealing with this huge secret almost led to their divorce. Throughout the book, TJ shares how she felt about God and why did he choose them to travel this lonely path, whilst all around them, family and friends started and grew their families. I came away after reading Semen Secrets wishing that fertility clinic staff were much more aware of the impact sperm test results have on a couple and how important counselling is prior to delivering the results. This isn’t a fun subject, but TJ managed to inject humour without detracting from the devastation that often accompanies infertility. I have huge respect for TJ and her husband for putting their story out there to support anyone dealing with MFI.
2. The Pursuit of Motherhood, by Jessica Hepburn
Although this book is now seven years old, it is still very relatable to the TTC community now, wherever you are on your journey to parenthood. With searing honesty, the author shares her deepest emotions and the truths of infertility, going through IVF and ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. By combining humour, hope, reality and the devastation infertility leaves in its wake, the reader rides the highs and lows of this ‘rollercoaster journey’ along with the author and her partner. What I really like about The Pursuit of Motherhood is how the author ensures the reader is fully aware of how infertility takes over your life – your work, career decisions, planning where you’ll live and the effect this struggle has on the extended family. I really admire Jessica for her openness in writing her heart-breaking story to support others on the same journey, and also raising awareness that infertility and loss is far more common than people think and can happen to anyone.
3. Is your body baby friendly?, by Alan E. Beer, M.D
I read this book after I had an early miscarriage from our first donor egg cycle because the title resonated with me. Dr Alan Beer spent over twenty-five years looking for an explanation into unexplained infertility, IVF failure and recurrent pregnancy loss. He’s a firm believer that immune issues – natural killer cells, antibodies, blood clotting defects – are often the cause of infertility. This is a very controversial subject in the fertility world, as some doctors support his ideas whereas others don’t agree. The HFEA in the UK do not suggest immunological treatment as an add-on to routine IVF/ICSI. It’s a thick book and is obviously about a medical problem, but even if you haven’t got a medical background, you can still get a lot of useful, relevant information from reading it. I’m very thankful I read this book when I did because it answered questions in my mind and enabled me to take control over my next donor egg cycle, which was successful.
4. How to help friends and family through infertility; how you can offer support, what to say and understanding infertility, by Alexandra Kornswiet
As the title suggests, this is a great book to give to family and friends to help them to understand what you are going through and how they can support you better. Alexandra writes in a very conversational style and it feels like she’s sitting there, simply explaining such things as why saying certain phrases isn’t helpful, what words can trigger someone, how to offer the right help and how important doing a little research is in order to understand better what someone is going through. It also includes a helpful overview of the different fertility treatments and the alternative paths to parenthood. I really wish this book had been around when I was going through infertility, not only so I could give it to those around me but it would also have validated a lot of my feelings, as I thought it was just me. Thankfully Alexandra has written it and it is a must-read.
5. The injustice of infertility; a true story of heartbreak, determination and never-ending hope, by Jennifer Robertson
This is the author’s no holds barred memoir of her journey to motherhood, and there is nothing about this journey that Jennifer doesn’t share. Infertility doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, where you live in the world or how you’ve lived your life; it can happen to anyone. As you’d expect from a memoir, the author shares honestly and bravely how infertility, fertility treatment and pregnancy loss, impacted her emotionally, physically and financially. She writes as if she’s your best friend sharing her story with you in person; you can’t help but laugh, cry and want to hug her. It’s another book that I wish had been around when I was struggling to get pregnant – I was nodding my head all the way through it because the emotions experienced on this rollercoaster journey are so similar. I think it should be required reading for anyone who is considering fertility treatment – your personal story will be different but it will prepare you mentally for what lies ahead. A massive ‘Thank you’ Jennifer for writing this book for the infertility community.