Most infertility memoirs end with a miracle baby; Tessa Broad’s book Dear You: A Letter to My Unborn Children, out in the UK on June 29, doesn’t. Instead, it’s a warm, honest and quirky account of her very own miracle; how she found a way to live a happy and passionate life without children. As you can see by my name on the cover quote, I was privileged to review the book ahead of publication.
Whether you’re still struggling to find your path to your Plan B, or are out the other side, this is a must-read memoir of one of the biggest untold stories of our generation – what it’s like to survive and thrive after involuntary childlessness.
Infertility is life-changing. It is stressful, painful and deeply upsetting and to have it ignored or brushed aside, diminishes the experience. Enduring the most arduous of treatments to join the parent club and to fail is tough and to be left on the periphery with apparently nothing to contribute toward the care of children is worse. I have at times wanted to wear my infertility as a badge of suffering for all I have been through, but I know that dragging my infertility around with me like a wooden cross, the smell of burning martyr filling the air, is not helpful. I feel it would be softer, nicer, to share how I have imagined you in my life, though I’m not sure how that would be received; with a puzzled look probably. (p.96)
As someone who hasn’t been through fertility treatments, Tessa’s account of how brutal that experience can be, and the unkindness of some ‘fertility docs’ left me stunned. Even though I’ve heard many versions of these stories from IVF survivors from all over the world, it still never fails to astound me that those who have taken a vow of ‘do no harm’ could be so causal with women’s physical, emotional and psychological health. Tessa’s gift as a writer is one that, as with Julia Leigh’s memoir Avalanche, I was taken right into those consults and procedures along with her, and I wept with her at some of the harshness she experienced.
In the book, and during email conversations with Tessa, I discovered that she had been a member of our Gateway Women private online community and had found it a great support in difficult times. It is wonderful to know that another childless woman has come through the dark years of grief and back out into the sunshine of life again. Yes, childlessness is devastating. No, it doesn’t have to be a lifetime sentence of misery. This message is important. This book is important. Thank you Tessa.
Dear You: A Letter to my Unborn Children by Tessa Broad
Published in the UK by RedDoor on 29 June 2017