In MY day, when people found out they couldn't have children, they gave up their power to the men in the white coats. We allowed the men in white coats to poke and prod us without completely understanding the whys. We suffered alone, isolated. And we liked it! We loved it!
wussy modern people confronted with infertility will have a much easier time of it, thanks to the recently released book, Navigating the Land of If: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options. The Land of IF is a guidebook for a place just off the mainland, a place where one in six people find themselves marooned. Author Melissa Ford has explored every nook and cranny of this formerly insular jungle-of-a-place, and she indulged me in a few questions about her journey to parenthood and to authorhood.
You decided to become a tour guide for an island where no one wants to go. Huh?
Well, someone had to do it! Actually, there are a lot of really good books out there for infertility, but they were all missing items here and there. I wanted to cover the basics, but also make sure that all of the questions I still had after I put those books down were answered. Such as what happens if you hit a blood vessel during an injection? Or what are the various IVF protocols?
I also wanted one book for everyone: primary, secondary, situational, biological, young, old, single, or married. This doesn't mean that everyone will love the book because they may hate my writing style, or how inclusive it is, or any other reason. But I wanted the door to be open to everyone who wanted to walk through by using inclusive language, considering a plethora of situations, and including information for everyone in the community.
You call this island the Land of IF. What does IF mean?
IF is the online abbreviation (on bulletin boards and blogs) for infertility, but "if" is also a huge part of infertility. "If" also conveys the uncertainty and leaps of faith one needs to take daily with infertility.
You've done a lot of actual travel. What did you look for in a good guide book? And how did you incorporate this into the Land of If?
I looked for consistency between chapters/cities and information I could use. I love Lonely Planet and Let's Go because they both skip the pictures and essays about the place (well, they contain that in a small amount) and instead use the space to list the important information you need while you're there, keeping in mind all people and not just a small subsection of the traveling population. They don't make assumptions about your financial situation or your interests. They just throw it all in there along with a few helpful tips that will help you bypass difficulties while on the road.
Everyone gets off the island eventually, one way or another. What neighborhoods did you hang out in and what was your path off the island?
It's an interesting question because I had the neighbourhood I lived in (and most of us only own one home), but many neighbourhoods I visited due to friends or family members living in other spaces. Many of my childhood friends ended up going through infertility with me, and, of course, I met people along the way through Resolve and now blogs.
In addition, I think the way off the island is really an emotional journey. You can have children and still not resolve your infertility or you can stop the family building process and still not resolve your infertility. There is a saying with Resolve that children resolve childlessness, not infertility. And I find that to be very true.