Book Comfort and Revelations

I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced this, but as a “book person”, a librarian, and an infertile woman living life on the emotional rollercoaster, I often find myself in need of something familiar and comforting in the form of a book.

In the past when I’ve struggled with things like my parents divorce, troubles at work (ongoing and constant I know, but when things are extra troubling that is), break-ups, etcetera (sometimes I just love to spell at the word etcetera. I don’t think people do it enough anymore), I’ve turned to my old pal, Harry Potter.

And lately I have been plagued with some melancholia over this whole maybe-I-will-maybe-I-wont have a baby deal. You know, that whole thing. Life altering and what not. And I’ve tried some things like watching old reruns of New Girl or Girlmore Girls, reading John Green books and just giving into the agony, and starting up exercising again (no regrets there bleeps). But nothing is really cutting through this solid and very real ache that seems to live in perpetuity in the pit of my stomach.

The other night I had a fall apart with Chief, which as always, ended in me sobbing and ridiculous. We were okay, he comforted me as much as he could and we settled in to watch some TV and I cleaned, which I sometimes do when I’m upset, and then it was time for bed. But I wasn’t ready. I just couldn’t make myself lay awake in bed thinking about my chances of getting pregnant and all the various factors and things that could go wrong. So I stayed up, and when the TV proved uninteresting at midnight, I decided to pop in a DVD. I went to the shelf and my eyes landed on it:

Julie and Julia.

I settled in on the couch and let Meryl Streep sing me to sleep with her deep, chortling Julia Child voice. It was peaceful. I didn’t finish it (although I’ve seen it a million times. I had it on the DVR at one point and I would watch it anytime Chief wasn’t around. There was even a section missing from when a storm blew through for about fifteen minutes, but I watched it anyway), but it didn’t matter. The seed had been planted.

I had read the book before too, and if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t yet read the book, then go out and get yourself a copy. I’m rereading it right now, and here’s something I had forgotten from many movie watches but only one book read through: Julie Powell is infertile. She has PCOS, which she found out about when donating eggs. In fact, a major part of her starting the Julie/Julia project was in response to this sinking feeling that seemed to encompass her whole life. She needed a project, a way to remake herself. And she found it.

When I first read Julie and Julia, I had no idea I was infertile. None. It never even occured to me. It was years ago. I’m sure that I read it blithely thinking, “Oh, that’s sad for her. Ooh French cheese!” But now, I take so much comfort in reading about an infertile woman who decided to stop listening to all the doctors and her mother telling her that “time was ticking” and decided to just live her goddamn life. Because I do. I want to have a baby, so, so much. But when this is all over, baby or not, I just want to live my goddamn life and stop living in the “what if” territory.

I told a friend of mine that I was having a hard time being hopeful about getting pregnant-that I was afraid to. And she said, “You can spend the next four or five months refusing to have hope and being worried and upset, or you can realize that if you don’t get pregnant you’re going to feel that way anyway, and let yourself hope now.”

Live your goddamn life is what she was saying.

So to all of you out there this Tuesday: just go live your goddamn life. It’s the only one you’ve got.


7 thoughts on “Book Comfort and Revelations

  1. I’ve seen the movie but not read the book. I didn’t realize Julie’s connection to Julia went farther than food. As for living your life…I concur. Easier said than done, however.

  2. I “discovered” HP after my diagnosis aged 18. he then later helped through my collapsing first marriage and divorce. Not read Julie and Julia or even seen it but sounds like a good way to live: just goddamn live!

  3. That part in the movie with Julia finds out her sister is expecting dissolves me into tears every.single.time. Just thinking about it brings tears to me eyes. The hurt, it’s always there. I wish they didn’t skim over Julie’s infertility in the movie!

  4. I really liked the movie but have never read the book and had completely missed the infertility element.

    I so get what you are saying with comfort books. I have a few I reread on an annual basis, and there are a couple that I turn to every time my life starts to feel unbearably overwhelming (Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry is the ultimate example here). I’m a PhD student in History, so I don’t usually have time to ‘read for fun’ but I fit it in anyway- it’s a mental health exercise far more than it’s a hobby.

  5. I was JUST considering reading a book to distract myself from all my fertility anxiety.
    I recently reread the entire Anita Blake series and it was glorious.

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