Saturday, July 10, 2010

Infertility: Hope and Healing Book Review

{Finally} . . . the Book Review I promised months ago on Infertility: Help, Hope, and Healing by Kerstin Daynes.

I consider myself to be more of an introvert than an extrovert which is why I admire others who are willing to open up their hearts and publicly share their experiences of dealing with personal issues in an attempt to provide encouragement, support, and hope to others. True to the title of her book, Kerstin Daynes does exactly that: she provides help, hope, and healing to those dealing with and trying to make sense of infertility. Not only does she share her own experiences, but she uses insights and perspectives of others who have had similar struggles in order to help broaden people’s understanding of such a delicate subject.

Although this book is a wonderful resource for those personally struggling with infertility I also highly recommend it to friends and family members of individuals struggling with infertility or to anybody who would like to come away with a better understanding of infertility. Especially helpful in that regard is an appendix in the back of the book titled, “Supporting Someone Who Has Fertility Challenges.”

Other useful appendices to her book include one on infertility facts, a glossary of helpful terms, and recommended resources. I appreciated that each appendix was short enough (2-3 pages) to give some very basic yet pertinent information but not too long as to be considered overwhelming which is understandable as Kerstin describes her book in the preface as “only a beginning” which will hopefully “open a door by encouraging dialogue and discussion”.

With that invitation, let me start some dialogue by saying that I think one of the hardest parts of dealing with infertility is that all too often, women dealing with fertility struggles (including myself) mistakenly base our worth solely upon our ability to bear or carry children and we may even go so far as to let that one aspect of our life define who we are. Kerstin addresses this exact problem when she writes:

“We often spend so much time and energy dwelling on what we lack and how we do not measure up to others that we neglect areas of our lives that contain glimpses of greatness.”

However, Kerstin reminds us that infertility is just one of many aspects of a woman’s life and she wisely encourages everyone to discover the other areas of our lives which contain “glimpses of greatness”.

“Celebrate that you have other parts of yourself that are functional and keep track of the context of your whole self, your whole life, and not just the narrow window of infertility.”

Great advice.  On the topic of finding support and avoiding alienation, Kerstin wisely counsels:

“We all have reason to be disappointed by life. Find comfort in knowing that others can understand, strengthen, and lift you, even if they know nothing of the sadness of infertility. As you recognize how similar you are to others, you choose to be understood. You choose not to be alone.”

What a wonderful concept which can be applied to virtually any trial and to both sides of the trial as well. Allow me to paraphrase the “flip side” of this quote: [Others can] find comfort in knowing that I can understand, strengthen, and lift them even if I know nothing of the sadness of ____________ (fill in the blank: divorce/unemployment/raising a child with special needs, etc.)

That’s another great thing about this book- although it is specifically geared towards dealing with infertility, the advice and wisdom shared could be beneficial when used for practically any trial!

The longest section of Kerstin’s book, which I found particularly helpful, were the chapters containing practical strategies for coping with infertility on all sorts of levels: physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and socially. The advice in these chapters was very useful and I was particularly drawn to the chapters that addressed dealing with fertility socially and on a spiritual level, since those aspects of infertility have been the most challenging for me to deal with personally.

Throughout this book Kerstin uses her Christian beliefs and the scriptures as a framework for understanding infertility. She specifically uses the Biblical examples of Sarah & Abraham, Isaac & Rebekah, Hannah & Elkenah, and Elisabeth & Zacharias, who all faced fertility challenges which surely must have tried their faith.

One of my favorite lines in the whole book which really puts things into a beautiful perspective made reference to Abraham and Sarah, who eventually went on to become a father and mother of nations:

“The Lord had a unique plan for this family, one that was different than the normal “grow up, get married, have children, and live happily ever after” plan. The plan that He had for Abraham and Sarah included all of the things He had promised, but they happened at a different time than they expected. In the end, they experienced joy, perhaps more exquisite because of their patience, faith, and “judging him faithful who had promised”

Another favorite passage from the book which describes the ultimate source of healing for any ailment or trial is:

“Through Jesus Christ, we can find the strength to move forward even when all seems hopeless. Because of Him we can be empowered to progress towards becoming what Heavenly Father sees we can be. Additionally, applying the atoning power in our lives will bring much needed healing and relief."

And once more, drawing upon the examples found in the scriptures and using beautiful imagery which she naturally infuses into her writing, Kerstin offers hope on her website that "despite infertility, we can live our lives in the fertile parts of our wildernesses"

If you are interested in reading Infertility: Help, Hope, and Healing by Kerstin Daynes borrow it,  buy it, or   take a look at her website for an excerpt. 

By the way, Kerstin will be speaking at this year's Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) National Conference.


jendoop said...

Sounds like a great book. I hope many women whose hearts are aching for children will find it.

Melissa said...

I too love this book as I struggle with infertility and it took 3 rounds of IVF to get pregnant. It helps you keep your perspective