I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...
Title: Empowered Fertility: A Practical Twelve-Step Guide
Author: Claire Hall with Dr Devora Lieberman
Publication Date: January 26th 2016
Synopsis: "Trying for a baby doesn't always go to plan. Sometimes it can take months or years longer than anticipated; stress levels rise and hope can start to fade, making women - and their partners - feel completely powerless.
Empowered Fertility has been created to guide you through this part of life. Its clear, perceptive and incredibly helpful advice, crafted from years of experience and medical expertise, enables women to empower themselves to deal with infertility and navigate the often difficult and confusing path through fertility treatment."
My thoughts: Okay, just slow your guns there. I know what you're thinking 'wow! Is Beth trying to get pregnant?' and I am just going to be straight with you - no. I am not.
I requested this book to review simply because I am looking to be more healthy through being more fertile - something that is actually really important, particularly in women's bodies. Anyway, I won't bore you with what is wrong with my fertility, and we will get onto the review! [just to repeat - not. getting. pregnant.]
I worried when I first opened this book that it would be solely aimed at women going through IVF - and to a certain extent, it was. But there are just so many useful exercises in here for women in general - whether you are planning on getting pregnant or not. While I was reading, I had my journal open next to me and was just jotting down so many things to come back to later and try again - this book is filled with little exercises to help you calm yourself and also to sit with certain emotions. It helps you to ask tough questions about what you want out of life, and also has forays into questioning why you want children in the first place (never really a straightforward thing to answer, in my experience).
The book is set into two parts - the first part being the Twelve-Step Guide where you confront many of the emotions and difficult situations that come up with going through IVF in particular (or with the possibility of being infertile generally), and then the second part is the IVF Cycle Handbook, which breaks down each part of the IVF process into steps to go through, and walks you through each part gently.
My interest was mostly with the first part, as I have no experience with IVF personally, but what I read of the second part did seem quite helpful.
In the first part, one of my favourite steps that I came across was Step Seven: Building Your Emotional Toolkit. In this step, you are asked to become familiar with the types of thoughts that often come up for you, and whether they are one of the 'big five false-thinking godfathers of the monkey family: blame, shame, guilt, regret and perfectionism.' This also taps into the Buddhist idea of 'monkey mind', which helps us to notice our thoughts as just what they are - thoughts. Not always something to act on or react to, just something to observe. This step confronts those ideas, and I have to say that I found it very useful, even outside of my own fertility journey - I confront quite a few of these 'monkeys' when it comes to my own writing ability, and it the techniques I found in this book to observe them rather than react to them were extremely handy.
Overall, I think this book has been written very well. While it is quite short, it seems to pack quite a bit in, and doesn't shy away unnecessarily from the deeply hurtful things that can come up in the fertility journey. It even has helpful ideas for maintaining healthy communication and love between couples, and other people that you have relationships with, which I thought was really wonderful.
(I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!)
You would like this book if: you are going through the IVF process or fertility tests and related health tests of your own; you are interested in helpful exercises to deal with difficult emotions and situations.
Tea to drink while reading this book: I was drinking a lot of Raspberry Leaf tea, which is helpful for women!
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