This is something new for me, it’s my first ever book review! As you can imagine I have read lots of books with an infertility theme. When you are going through treatment or waiting for the next step it’s hard to know if something is going to be helpful and if it’s going to give you hope or just make you feel like even more of a failure.
I recently came across a new book called Detours, Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility by Sue Johnston. The strap line of giving hope immediately caught my eye. I have struggled with infertility for 10 years and you could say that my reserves of hope are somewhat diminished. I was looking for something to give me a boost and to remind me that I’m not alone. This book delivered on both fronts.
Detours is a series of short stories written by those that have experienced infertility first-hand. Each one is written by the individual and as a result there is a collection of very personal and heart-warming stories. The thing that brings them together is their struggle to conceive and their ability to seek support from others to get through the rollercoaster that is infertility.
Each story follows a different path, the cause of infertility is different and the treatment paths that they decided to take (or not take) are different. It covers a range of treatments including initial investigations, Clomid, IUI, IVF, surrogacy, donor treatment & embryo donation, so no matter what your diagnosis, there is something within the book that you will relate to. Each story gives a true picture of what it is like to be waiting for treatment, having treatment & dealing with the outcome whether it’s positive or negative. Many of them went through multiple cycles and somehow found the strength to keep going.
It isn’t overly medical which I really liked and it means that it is an easy read if you aren’t familiar with the world of IVF. It focuses on the physical & emotional journey that each person took and the ways in which they sought and found support to get through it.
In parts, the pain and heartache oozes from the page and reminds us of how isolating and soul destroying it can be. Over and over again it describes perfectly the emotional impact that infertility has on both the individual and the couple.
One of the stories gives a male perspective of infertility and treatment. This is a rarity and makes a refreshing change to read the impact on the male partner who has watched their loved one go through treatment. It is a reminder that even though they may not be doing the injections or taking the drugs, there is a deep routed impact on them too.
For me, Detours is about surviving, keeping hopeful, staying strong & moving forward.
Anyone that has struggled with infertility will be able to relate to these key themes. Reading that others have been where you are gives a certain amount of comfort & hope that you will get through it.
For me there were a few quotes that struck a chord.
For those starting out:
“You are about to embark on an emotional voyage. Infertility treatments are like crashing waves; you will have your ups and downs. Be kind to yourself. Do whatever it takes to feel better…pick yourself up and do whatever it takes to move forward” Sue A Johnston
I wish I had received this piece of advice when I had started my journey. I have never been able to find the words to describe how it feels to be weathering the storm of infertility, Sue manages it perfectly.
For those in treatment or struggling to know where to turn next for treatment:
“This infertility journey can be long and at times treacherous. But you can be your own compass. You know your body better than any doctor. You can control the direction of your own treatment. Don’t fear getting lost because, no matter what the journey brings, you truly already know the way home” Katie Kearney
I cried when I read this story. This is so true, you are your own compass. Follow the path that you are comfortable with, be your own advocate & take control of your treatment. No-one else will do it for you.
For those moving on from treatment:
“…I can be happy and fulfilled without becoming a mother. I am so thankful to finally realize that while life doesn’t always give us what we expect, we can still end up with wonderful gifts that extend far beyond our own limited hopes and dreams” Christina M. Ryan
As someone who is now facing the very real decision of whether to carry on with treatment or not, this story had the biggest impact on me. Yes, infertility is hard & IVF doesn’t always work but that doesn’t mean that you cannot lead a rich and full life.
No matter where you are in your struggle, Detours it has something for you. It delivers hope. Hope that IVF can work against all the odds, hope that you can find a way to build your family even though it may not have been in the way you expected or hope for a positive future even if that is without the family that you had always dreamt of.
The overarching message is to seek out support. They found their infertility sisters and supported each other through even the darkest of times. Detours encourages us to find strength and support from those that have been on a similar journey, they are the ones that are best able to help you on your own journey.
This book perfect if you are trying to support someone going through treatment but don’t quite know what to say or how reach out to them. It gives some useful advice on things not to say to someone who is affected by infertility.
It is brimming with hope, advice and words of wisdom from those that have travelled the path before us. Between them, they have over 100 years combined of infertility treatments.
Detours is an honest and emotional account of infertility and I would highly recommend it for anyone is on their own journey or supporting someone in theirs. I have never read anything before that so accurately describes what infertility does to you, the struggles that you go through on a daily basis and how it really makes you feel when you are on the rollercoaster.
A heartfelt Thank You to those that allowed their Infertility Detour stories to be shared with such feeling and raw emotion. We are not alone, there are many of us.
About the Author
Sue Johnston struggled with unexplained infertility for over a decade of her life. After 5 IVFs and 2 ZIFTs she finally conceived her one and only son. Infertility had a profound affect on Sue’s life and she is passionate about supporting the infertility community. Nothing in her life has affected her so deeply. Sue is an infertility advocate, author and anthologist. Sue also leads her own RESOLVE affilited infertility support group and volunteers for their helpline. A portion of Detours will be donated to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Sue has created her own blog and line of infertility support cards and gifts aptly named, “In-Fertility & Friendship Gifts.” To learn more about Sue Johnston and her advocacy work, please visit her website, The In-Fertility Advocate