Infertility is a lonely thing to go through — few people talk about it openly. During my own five-year struggle to have a baby with my husband, I became keenly aware of this stigma, and how poorly women with infertility in particular are reflected in books, on screens, and online. When pop culture and news media represented us at all, it was in ways that were at worst scornful and at best inaccurate and formulaic. Every sitcom plot line ended with a surprise pregnancy, every well-meaning news article began and ended with the IVF process, and the majority of books on the topic were in the self-help genre, focused more on helping women conceive than on infertility’s emotional and social impact. They all ended with a baby. Most troublingly, the popular image of infertility is that of an upper-middle-class, white, straight-partnered woman in her mid-to-late thirties, a stereotype that erases the significant experiences of black, indigenous, poor, and LGBTQ women who face barriers to diagnosis and treatment.
This isolation makes the stories that do get it right all the more important for those of us seeking community and meaning. The following are books I found that I thought provided special insight and guidance into the process of trying to conceive, adopt, or live childfree after infertility. Some of them surprised me — the books I found resonated most weren’t necessarily by women, or even about infertility — but, for me at least, they hit on some key aspects of the desire and struggle to build a family that includes children in ways that made me feel not only less alone, but proud of my story — with all of its complexity, trauma, and triumph.