I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood by Lisa Manterfield is a page turner, a spirited memoir recounting what led her on and off what she terms the “crazy train” in pursuit of pregnancy and motherhood.
Raised in the suburbs of Sheffield in northern England, Lisa, the youngest of three and most adventuresome of her tradition-bound extended family isn’t one to shy away from the unknown. Armed with a degree in civil engineering, she moves to Los Angeles and eagerly embraces new experiences and learns what she does and doesn’t want in a relationship. Naturally curious, quick to laugh, a believer in work hard, play hard, Lisa falls hard for and marries in her early 30s a wonderful, devoted man. She innocently begins to nest only to find herself in a hellish maze confronting biological failure and societal intolerance (what, married with no kids? and “your opinion doesn’t count, you’ve never had kids...).
I always knew there were women around the globe who banged up against the same walls I did, who left no rock unturned in pursuit of something modern society takes for granted, who tried to make sense of the unthinkable and who, when pushed to the limit, pushed back. I just didn’t know any of them personally and they certainly hadn’t written any soul-baring books about coming to terms with the finality of it — one of the last modern day stigmas: infertility — and recognizing that society doesn’t know what to do with couples who do the unthinkable: disembark from the crazy train.
How is it that well in the 21st century we still have difficulty openly acknowledging, despite all the advances in human reproduction, that pregnancy isn’t a given — at any age? Why are women and men who can’t conceive made to feel like failures? Why are there not more honest discussions about the very real limits of nature and science and what infertility does to relationships, identity and planning for the future?
Lisa Manterfield’s book makes mince meat out of the notion that if women in their 30s “try” hard enough, relax more, change their diet, engage in acupuncture and yoga, they can achieve pregnancy. She devoted five years of her life in pursuit of an outcome that didn’t materialize, and, in the end, realized how much she sacrificed in the process. She makes it clear that infertility robs couples of much more than their children
She also discovered that in giving up the chance at motherhood, she not only had to mourn the loss of her children without any support system but also give up “a certain acceptance in society.” In a day and age when motherhood is held up as a crowning womanly achievement, when parenthood is positioned as a necessary validation of a life well lived, and when celebrities at 48 (!!) are shown cuddling newborns on the cover of national magazines, it takes guts to recognize and say:
Children would have made life a great adventure. But standing there in the kitchen, I realize that life will have to be great without them, too.”
Check out Lisa’s I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood (and blog) and learn about how one woman dared to say no to motherhood and get her life back.