A Book Review of The Conception Chronicles by Patty Debano, Caurtney Menzel, & Shelly Sutphen
Reviewed and written by Lindsay Jenkins and Stephanie Schramm
Published by: Health Communications, Inc., 2005
# of pages: 281
The Conception Chronicles is designed to be an overall topic book for anyone TTC and provides an informal view of information on the topics we all might face. The book is designed to be informative with a bit of light-heartedness. It is organized into a TTC timeline and the writing is informal and mixed with humor. I would suggest this one for ladies getting started in the journey that are looking for facts about the options, stories about the journey but without being swamped with a lot of medical talk that can feel daunting.
The authors have tied together facts and stories by using a few different features. Each chapter heading looks like a day calendar page with lists of things to do during stages of TTC. Included throughout there are quick little stories and tidbits from outside TTC ladies that I enjoyed very much and also short email exchanges between the authors.
I enjoyed the humor in the book but most of the knowledge I have heard before. My impression of the book before starting it was that it would be a lot of funny stories real life women have gone through in order to find the humor in life and struggles and to get a break from the stress of TTC. Instead it is more of guide for what you will go through and what things you may face. It was a bit short in my opinion with the actual stories from others. The further in the book you go the less humor there is. However the overall attitude of the book is to know that there will be rough times during this journey but to find a bit of humor in it anyway. They point out different viewpoints on the journey and how each stage could affect you. It provides helpful links throughout and advises on the options you may have for finding others in the same boat. What I liked most was that they bring up the emotional rollercoaters you will most likely face in a way that makes you know that you are not alone in the journey.
Review by Lindsay Jenkins
What are the main topics presented in the book? (secondary infertility, adoption, IVF, donor reproduction...)
The book is a great resource for those just starting to TTC (try to conceive). It covers just about all facets of infertility except for two; involuntary childlessness and miscarriage. The first 2/3 of the book covers ovulation tests, grasping the possibility of being infertile, and dealing with social situations. In those aspects, it is a great resource. I would not recommend it for anyone who has been through multiple IVFs, has not decided on adoption, and who may be facing life as a not-mother forever. Given that about half of all women pursuing Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART), do not make it to a baby, this is disheartening. The audience is primarily women and the book admittedly does not cover male factor infertility apart from a small section on donor sperm.
What is the book's format? (technical, informational, memoir, formal, informal...)
Although it is written by three different women, they are best friends and each chapter includes an email exchange between the three. There are also sporadic personal accounts added to chapters of women who were or are TTC. Those are very helpful to read to hear real-world accounts of possible situations.
How is the book organized?
Each chapter is a progression of infertility from “Practice Makes Perfect, Right?” to “Mama, Madre, Mommy, Mum”. One chapter is dedicated to IVF. One chapter lumps together adoption, donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, and surrogacy.
Writing style (humor, factual, etc.)?
There is an overlying sense of humor to it all. Self-deprecating and sarcastic at times, they did a good job at adding inspirational quotes and anecdotes with the stories to help break the heaviness of the subject.
What is the author’s experience on the subject? (patient, doctor, family...)
All the authors were TTC at some point. Some were primary infertility and some were secondary. But all of them have children.
Does the author have a certain point of view or opinion?
The intent of the book is to aid those just starting out TTC and are just getting their feet wet, so to speak. For those who have been in the trenches for a long time, this book may not be as helpful.
Who would you suggest this book to?
This book is recommended for those who are just starting to TTC and are sensing a delay (6 months ttc+).
How did the book affect you?
Throughout the book, I was reminded of myself in those early stages of optimism, ovulation testing, and counting down to the time I’d give birth. It saddened me to recall those moments and even the description of IVF, though it was exactly my experience, brought me to tears at the memory. It seems easier to reflect on the procedures with less emotion if ultimately, it has worked.
Is there anything you wish the author(s) had elaborated on?
All the characters seemed to have good support systems right from the start; each other. I think it would have been interesting to have more advice for those without strong support systems. In addition, although failure and repeated negative results are described in the early stages of TTC, miscarriage is hardly mentioned and the prospect of not having a biological child is answered with “adoption” or “donor”.
Rate this book on a scale of 1-5 stars. Why do you think it deserves this rating?
3.5 out of 5. It’s great for those just starting out but for anyone facing their second or more IVF, childlessness, or adoption, it’s all old news.
I am sure this sounds harsher than I mean it to be. Maybe I am more critical because I felt a bit neglected in the book. I didn’t get much out of it, personally.
Review by Stephanie Schramm
A special thank you to April B. for donating her copy of the book and to Lindsay Jenkins and Stephanie Schramm for their awesome reviews.
If any readers out there have read this book before and have other thoughts, we'd love to hear from you. What did you think of the book?