There Is No Good Card for This

This morning on my drive to work, I heard an interview with Emily McDowell on NPR. If you haven’t heard of her amazing Empathy Cards, stop reading right now and go check them out!

Seriously, I’ll wait.


After I lost Jane, a coworker sent me this card:


I went straight to and ordered 20 cards the same day.


I didn’t even realize until this morning that she has an infertility card too! (Although many of her other designs would also be perfect for infertility, pregnancy loss, or a whole bunch of other shitty things…)


Anyway, the reason for the interview was that she just coauthored a book, titled – wait for it – “There Is No Good Card for This: What to Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to the People You Love.”


I live with my foot permanently wedged in my mouth, and have lamented the fact that I have been/would be pretty worthless at comforting a friend in the way my amazing friends (including several who read this blog) did for me.


I just added this book to my Amazon cart. Can’t wait!

Seeking book recommendations

While it’s still ICLW, I’m hoping to get your input!

I love to read. When I got my first teaching job, I spent the next year reading every book I could get my hands on about teaching, mentoring students, navigating academic politics, setting up a research program, and so on. Not surprisingly, I took the same approach when we started trying to conceive.

Here’s a list of the books I read in the last year or so (in the order I read them), and what I thought of them:

  1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book is the charting bible. My only suggestion is to excise the chapter on choosing the sex of your baby, since it is pretty much nonsense. The rest is fantastic. We got pregnant the first month we charted according to the instructions in this book…(We miscarried a few weeks later, but I don’t blame Weschler or this book for that!)
  2. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. After successfully getting pregnant, I was interested in a book other than the ubiquitous, alarmist What to Expect When You’re Expecting. For a fabulously concise rationale for not trusting Heidi Murkoff, see this post by Yeah Science!
  3. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy. I had heard this one was funny, and bought it for my Kindle before learning that Jenny McCarthy was an anti-science wack-job. (As much as I hate to offend any readers, as a card-carrying scientist, I have to call it how I see it: Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine buddies are anti-science, and I can’t help but feel anti-Jenny McCarthy.) I did read her book, though, which I think pre-dated her anti-vaccine stance, and was amusing.
  4. The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean Twenge. I bought this book after learning that we were about to miscarry. This book is awesome. It is a brilliantly written, funny, thoroughly researched (Twenge is a psychology professor at San Diego State), and concise guide. I especially appreciated her thoughts on age and fertility, and her discussion of antral follicle count (she got pregnant naturally…twice, after having the same crappy AFC as me). This book – along with TCOYF – impressed upon me the importance of visiting a specialist soon, especially if you know you’re timing things right. The one thing Dr. Twenge’s book doesn’t include is a detailed discussion of ART, as she didn’t end up needing it.
  5. Preventing Miscarriage: The Good News by Jonathan Scher. I expected more from the founder of one of the world’s top ART clinics. This book was dreadful. It is anecdotal with no citations or scientific support for Dr. Scher’s claims. Worse, Dr. Scher seems to imply that women who don’t quit their jobs and submit to 9-month bedrest are at fault for their miscarriages! This book also had the feel of an advertisement for the Scher clinic. Blech!
  6. The Infertility Survival Handbook: Everything You Never Thought You’d Need to Know by Elizabeth Swire-Falker. Another excellent book, well-written and researched, and yet personal and touching. (Swire-Falker is a former attorney, and, like Twenge, knows how to do proper research.) The one downside of this book is that I found it a little depressing that despite years of attempts at ART, she was ultimately unsuccessful in carrying a pregnancy to term. She did however successfully adopt (and breastfeed!) In this book, Swire-Falker convinced me not to save IVF as a ‘last resort’ treatment, and also suggested making and stashing little self-care baskets to pull out as a pick-me-up on the inevitable rough days of an ART cycle…
  7. Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice Domar. I liked this book a lot. There were parts that felt like an advertisement for her program, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Scher’s book. Dr. Domar was honest about acknowledging which of her recommendations are controversial (like giving up exercise). I especially appreciated her treatment of the emotional difficulty of IF and miscarriage.
  8. What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant: The Complete Guide to All the Technologies for Couples Facing Fertility Problems by Daniel Potter & Jennifer Hanin. This book was fine. Not great (it had type-os and some slightly misleading information), but fine.
  9. If at First You Don’t Conceive by William Schoolcraft. This book has some of the same shortcomings as Dr. Scher’s book (weird organization, shameless plug for Dr. Schoolcraft’s clinic – The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, and not a single reference for any study or literature support for his claims – apparently having a medical degree means you don’t have to bother with proper use of sources?!), but I liked it a million times better than Dr. Scher’s book. Unlike Scher’s book, Schoolcraft’s contains lots of interesting and useful information, including cool figures like these:Image    It also contains a section on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

And that’s it! I’m almost through with Dr. Schoolcraft’s book, and I want to know what to read next. I have a slight preference for TTC-related (particularly IVF-related) nonfiction at the moment, but I’ll entertain all suggestions (fiction? websites? movies?).

So…what do you recommend?