Often a book, an article or a poem can describe many of the issues we struggle with and can offer a different way of looking at our emotional life. Simply reading the words of someone who has experienced similar issues to our own can be comforting and can help us feel less alone in our struggle.
On this page I aim to offer a frequently updated resource bank of texts which I feel can be helpful.
Grief and Loss
Dannie Abse (2007) The Presence. Vintage Books, London. This book is a beautifully written account of the year following the death of Abse’s wife. It is written as a diary and spans the range of emotions and feelings in the struggle to come to terms his shock and grief.
Therapy and Therapeutic Processes
Irvin D Yalom (1991) Love’s Executioner. Penguin, London. In this book, Yalom describes in the most sensitive and poetic way, some of his cases in his work as a psychotherapist. The book gives us a glimpse into the often perceived mystery of the counselling session and allows the reader to follow Yalom’s clients through their journeys of discovery.
Adrienne Rich (1995) Of Woman Born. A book which explores the notion of motherhood and identity. Rich asks important questions about how we perceive motherhood as an institution.
Mardy Ireland (1993) Reconceiving Women. Although written almost 20 years ago, to me, this book still has important things to say about the pre-conceptions of women and motherhood. What happens when a woman does not become a mother. How are ‘childless’ women perceived? What is their place in the world? Drawing on her own research with over 100 women, Ireland explores the emotional and physical implications of childlessness.
Fertility and Fertility Loss
Gerrie Fellows (2007) Window for a Small Blue Child. This is a poetry collection which tracks the process of fertility treatment and all its highs and lows. Fellows uses medical and technical language and makes it her own. By doing so she shows how it is possible to take back some of the power and control which often the medicalised nature of fertility treatment can steal from the person undergoing the treatment.
Rochell Ratner (ed) (2001) Bearing Life: Women’s Writings on Childlessness. The Feminist Press, New York. Ratner has collected poems by women writing about living without children, whether by choice or otherwise. Many of the poems are moving and reflect the emotions and feelings of being a woman living ‘outside motherhood’ in a world which often elevates the notion of motherhood to saintly levels.
Gamete Donation/Donor Conception
Nordqvist, P & Smart C (2014) Relative Strangers: Family Life, Genes and Donor Conception. A book which describes the ‘lived reality of donor conception’ and what it means to conceive and to be conceived through treatment using donor sperm, eggs or embryos.
Jeanette Winterson (2011) Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal. Winterson says that this book is the untold part of her novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. This autobiography is moving and funny in equal parts but never self-indulgent or overly sentimental. It is a wonderfully written account of emotional trauma, breakdown and ultimately, survival in the wake of a childhood experience of rejection, confusion and abuse.
Search for genetic origins
Jackie Kay (2010) Red Dust Road. The biographical story of Jackie Kay’s journey to find her birth father. The story beautifully conveys the desire to know one’s genetic background whilst at the same time, celebrating the love and life given in her adoptive family.
Useful Associations and Websites
Infertility Network UK www.infertilitynetworkuk.com
The Miscarriage Association www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk
More To Life (Support for involuntary childless men and women) www.moretolife.co.uk
Cruse Bereavement Care www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk