Monday, September 10, 2007

Book club, part 4: Everything Conceivable

Here is a tip: If you are electing a risky, complex, and invasive medical procedure, do not read a lengthy nonfiction book about said procedure. Whatever does not scare the shit out of you will invariably make you bitter, sad, or frustrated.

If you are worrying yourself silly about how many embryos to transfer in aforementioned risky, complex, and invasive medical procedure, perhaps you should skip the section about the couples who transferred several embryos and ended up with dead 20-week-old triplets, or ridiculously preemie quads, or whatever. If you're scared of twins, you should skip the section where the author mentions that IVF embryos are more likely to split into identical twins, particularly if you have already lost an identical twin pregnancy. If you're feeling sensitive about your move to IVF, you'll want to avoid the temptation to find places where the author seems judgmental or unkind about the subject. (But: said places are rare.)

That said, Liza Mundy's Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World is interesting and informative. I read it somewhat obsessively, though skipping over the parts that did not feel immediately relevant, and I learned a lot. It has chapters about egg donors and sperm donors, on surrogacy, on selective reduction. I think the author is sympathetic to her subject and well-informed. But I still kind of wish I hadn't read it. Sometimes knowing more isn't a good thing.

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