I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home

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.

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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.

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Pamela Tsigdinos

Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.

20 thoughts on “I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home

  1. It still breaks my heart that there isn’t some sort public knowledge about the grieving process needed to move on from attempts at having a bio child (whether that be moving on from natural TTC to FTs and then eventually stopping FTs). I still grieve the loss of not having a bio child.. but most times, I realize how grand my life is the way it is.. and how much I appreciate what I have, because of what I couldn’t have.

  2. yes, more and more of us are coming out of the woodwork… all over the world.

    I am already looking forward to reading Lisa’s book!

  3. I just finished reading this a few days ago & hope to post my own review soon. But I agree with everything you had to say! Love the quotes you’ve highlighted here, too. Isn’t it nice to see more & more of us coming out of the woodwork??

  4. Thanks for the comment! I couldn’t agree more — societal support and understanding would go a long way to making the grieving and recovery process less difficult.

  5. Indeed! The price is too high. How I wish I could convey that point to women just starting on the infertility journey…not to say don’t try, but to get all the facts, know your options, know the success rates for those options and have an ending point. Don’t sacrifice yourself on the alter of motherhood.

    I recently met a woman with PCOS, fairly newlywed, I could see the stress written all over her face. Her husband really wants children. I wanted to instantly transfer peace to her, but knew I couldn’t. We talked for a little while, and I wanted to tell her whether you become a mom or not it’s okay.

    Thanks Pamela for the info on Lisa’s book it will definitely be on my must get list!

    Kim

  6. Great advice, Kim. I like to think that once more of society knows about us and our experiences, the more younger couples will see that although infertility can turn your life inside out there is hope for a different but no less happy or meaningful life. It’s a slow process, though, as many of us have all but been trained to stay in the woodwork.

  7. Wow–I had to re-read that comment over and over again and let it sink in: “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.”

    So powerful, so simple, so positive and life altering….We need to read and hear more comments like that to help validate us and our lives. I also feel so left out of so many things at times because I am not a parent. I also feel like so much time has been lost on what could have been that I want to move on to what can be. It is not an easy step…but when we have support and courage from reading books like this one and of course, yours Pamela—maybe–just maybe we can make that move.

  8. I can’t wait to read it! I’m not an e-book kind of girl; I want the “real” thing in my hands. I ordered it on Amazon, but it was out of stock, so I’m waiting (semi-patiently) for it to be available again.

  9. one of the last modern day stigmas…how true. will be ordering this book straight away as we fall ever closer towards making the decision to exit the crazy train ourselves with no elusive baby in tow.

  10. Thanks for this, I am about to go and hunt her book down, it sounds like a brilliant read and just what I need right now as I start the next chapter of my life!

    ~x~

  11. When I arrived at that place of being childlessness not by choice, I was a mess and felt so alone. I eventually got angry enough to start searching on the internet for answers. Lo and behold, I ended up at your site, Pamela. I was home! I quickly bought Silent Sorority and read it in two days. I could not put it down. Your story was my story. I was NOT alone – what a feeling of relief.

    I remained intensely eager to connect with others going through this situation, so I eventually followed a link from here to Lisa’s site and book. I felt that I could not wait even a day for more information – so I ended up buying the E-book. (first time by the way) I stayed up a few nights in a row to read this book as well. Loved it!

    Both of these books are honest, heartfelt and eloquent. They both echo much of the same sentiment – there is a great need out there. The need to acknowledge and even celebrate those of us that are Childless not by choice. The need to acknowledge the grief we suffer and have suffered. The need for a way to help work through that grief. We need a road map of our own, to help on OUR life journey.

    I cannot begin to express my gratitude to you both for sharing your journeys with these books. In doing so, you gave me hope for the first time in a long time. I know you are giving that same hope to countless others. Thank you!

  12. Dear Jenn,
    So glad you found a place where you feel welcome and among those who understand! Your heartfelt comment is further evidence that the experience lived by those who congregate here is only now being fully explored and acknowledged. One of the best ways to reconcile and heal is to know what we’re not alone — that what we experienced is real and that we’re going to be okay even as we grieve what might have been.

    I’m grateful to all who stop here– even briefly — on their way to a new life journey. Each comment, each acknowledgment makes the transition that much easier for those coming behind us…

  13. Wow, ladies, thank you for all these kind and beautiful words. As I’m sure Pamela can attest, writing a book can seem like one long series of “What the heck am I doing this for?” moments, so to hear all these wonderful comments makes it all worth it. From my heart, thank you. xox

  14. I am almost finished with Silent Sorority and have loved every single word of it. I’m definitely buying “I’m Taking My Eggs And Going Home” today. We stopped treatments in December 2010, so I’m still trying to find as much as I can to read to help deal with all the feelings that I’m dealing with right now. I am so thankful for this blog and Silent Sorority. For the first time, I do not feel so alone. I knew there were more like me out there, but couldn’t find you. I have now, so be prepared to hear from me often. I have finally found a “tribe!”

  15. I did everything to bring a child into existence. I changed my diet, my exercise routine, I did acupuncture, herbs, massage, energy healing, relaxation, fertility meds, and never reached that end goal of a baby in my arms. I hurt everyday because this is new for me. My husband decided no more this summer. I thought secretly I would continue with all my natural remedies and we would end up pregnant without really trying. I thought I was pregnant in December, but learned last month I am going through menopause at age 35. So, now my dream is over and I have to come to terms with being childless. It is hard enough going through infertility, but now dealing with menopause. I find that I am angry all the time. People who say stupid thoughtless things about TTC I just want to pound their faces in, I actually laugh with glee went I think about doing this…

    My husband doesn’t understand. He has already moved on, but I have not. I keep wondering is there still hope. Should I try something else? Will it happen when I least expect it? I read these stories of hope and I get inspired. If it happened to this person made it can happen to me. I delude myself because I can’t imagine life without a child. We build some much of identity around being a mother. If we are not mother who are we? Society does not value us…Individuals do not value us. I planned out my life according to being a mother. College, career, then child. Now, I am trying to figure out what do I do with myself…How do I reclaim my life and live it with purpose? Thoughts that I hope connecting with other women will help me with.

    1. Fran, I am childless at age 51 after a long and painful road. I have step kids and everyone thinks “well, at least you have them” but do I? Not really, they are my stepchildren and I love them but the hole is still there. I just want to tell you it does get better. I have my bumps in the road but I have a good life and a lot of freedoms that people with children don’t. We love our husbands and just can’t understand why they don’t hurt like we do. It’s just not built into them like it is us. Paternal is very different than maternal. I remember it like it was yesterday and it’s been almost 12 years for me. The hope every month. I was relieved when I had a hysterectomy and the “hope” was taken away, I could breath and grieve.

      I think letting go is hard because we are goal oriented people and the goal feels unattainable. I’ll never forget what my Dr. said when he told me he thought it was just not going to happen. He said “maybe you can focus on being the best wife ever” he saw how much I love my husband and I did and do! We survived it and we are often told by nieces and nephews that they want a marriage like ours!

      You will figure it all out. Time. Love what you do and do what you love and you WILL be happy!
      Janet

  16. I just discovered this site and can’t wait to explore it in depth, read the books, etc. Nine years ago, upon learning of my premature ovarian failure, we chose not to even consider ART or other therapies. Economically, we could afford it. But it just never felt *right* for us. Although neither of us are especially religious, my husband and I felt (and still feel) that there must be a different plan for our lives; that to go to extreme (for us) means would somehow be forcing God’s hand. And so we chose never to even get on board the TTC thru ART Train. We looked at adoption options, but even that didn’t feel right for us. And yet we both love children, volunteer time with them, enjoy nieces and nephews and children of other friends. And we have the greatest respect and share in the joy of those couples who conceive children with the help of ART or who choose to adopt.

    As we approach our mid-40’s now, we still sometimes struggle with the question “so now what?” But we are finding our way together as a couple.
    I’m really looking forward to hearing about others’ experiences.

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