About the Book

In Brief:

Author of the extremely successful blog Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters, Melissa Ford presents readers with a guide for navigating the complex world of infertility. The Land of If got its name not only because “IF” is the abbreviation for “infertility” in the online world, but also because there are so many “ifs” inherent in being here. No stranger to the Land of If herself, Ford shares her hard-earned knowledge and insights, helping couples struggling with infertility understand the lingo, learn the details doctors tend to leave out, and keep their emotional sanity despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Navigating the Land of If gives the nitty-gritty on injections, rejections, biting your tongue during happy parent-to-be conversations, and trying not to cry over baby shower invitations. With chapters that include how-to’s for same-sex couples, and present adoption or remaining child-free as plausible alternatives, Ford tells you exactly what you need to know, from one infertile to another.

The Much Longer Version:

Welcome to the Land of If, shorthand for the Land of Infertility, a confusing, difficult world of choices and decisions. For the newly-diagnosed as well as those who have been living here for awhile, it can be a virtual nightmare to navigate—especially without a map. Which is why Navigating the Land of If will be an invaluable tool for any and all who visit here.

There are plenty of books that detail the multitude of exams and procedures an infertile man or woman can expect as they start treatments. While these books show the roads leading out of The Land of If, Navigating the Land of If is the insider’s guide one needs while actually living there. Covering both emotional and practical ground, it provides the survival skills necessary for existing in this land for the long-haul, such as tips on giving hormone injections with minimal pain, how to deal with baby shower onslaughts, and how to put emotional steam valves in place to help stave off the frustration, anger and sadness that so often comes with living here.

Infertility is a crisis where things do not necessarily improve as time passes. Ensuring that infertility does not take over one’s life requires long-term coping mechanisms to help get through the emotional pitfalls. To get over the rough spots, every infertile man or woman (otherwise known as IFers) needs a friend who can talk them through the anxiety they feel during a two-week-wait or sit with them as they cry during a miscarriage. This book is the paper version of a best friend who will help the reader make decisions, accept his/her emotions, and even give him/her strength to push through and attend that third baby shower in one month.

This guide is about how to survive while stuck on this island. It covers important lessons that are only passed along from infertile person to infertile person: learning the lingo so a person can be assertive with her own treatment; feeling empowered when searching for the words to explain infertility to someone living back on the Mainland; and maintaining friendships through infertility, a crisis known for inducing jealousy and self-anger.

People are in good company on this island. About 12.5% of the general population lives here and the ranks are increasing significantly—not decreasing. This, of course, doesn’t mean that everyone will understand when an infertile woman or man tries to tell someone outside the experience about blood draws, vaginal sonograms, and the frustrations about seeing other people with children. Even though everyone knows someone who is infertile, it also is one of the last great taboo topics. It’s the problem that no one discusses therefore most newly minted IFers are taken by surprise when they receive their diagnosis. They have no idea what to expect or where to go or what questions to ask. They’re also ill-prepared for the deluge of advice that comes from well-intentioned but misinformed friends and family. Luckily, this guide will be there to help them navigate those sticky “why don’t you just adopt” conversations.

But beyond that, newly-diagnosed infertile men and women often feel quite alone in their reactions and turn a lot of their anger inward. They may begin by gathering information in the doctor’s office, but often end up turning towards the Internet to tap into the important information that doesn’t seem to be relayed by doctors or even written about in those other infertility books. After all, it’s nice to know what the abbreviation ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) stands for, but it’s as important for a fellow stirrup queen to warn that a person should use heat after an IM injection to keep knots from forming under the skin.

A Tour Book to this Infertility Tour Book

The book begins with the lay of the land. The Land of If is firmly situated in the center of the Bermuda Triangle of Hope. This is where optimism is swallowed up inside the three corners comprising the triangle: the emotional, physical, and financial realities of infertility.
Once the reader is familiarized with the basics of infertility, he will quickly learn Iffish—that strange language composed of multi-syllabic, impossible-to-pronounce medical terms on one end and mysterious abbreviations on the other. He’ll take a quick tour of what to expect and how to prepare with excursions into fertility treatments, adoption, donor gametes, surrogacy, and living child-free.

Good tour books help a person make decisions about his trip, and this tour book will help a person make decisions about his life. There is a multitude of ways off the island and while a book can’t make decisions for you, it should provide the reader with the necessary questions to ask in order to weigh options and come to the best choice for the family. The endless options can be a blessing and a curse. It’s also hard to know when a person has hit her limit or how to step onto that pathway to living child-free—a very different way of leaving the Land of If.

Tour books traditionally include tips for blending in with the new culture, but those experiencing infertility actually need etiquette advice for dealing with outsiders to the experience. The guide includes ideas for starting conversations about infertility or loss, handy excuses that allow all parties to save face when bowing out of a baby shower, and methods for turning down well-intentioned-but-still-unwanted donor gamete offers. Plus, every stirrup queen needs a just-this-side-of-polite retort in her back pocket for when someone asks her if she thinks this is the universe’s way of telling her that she’s not cut out to be a parent.

The goal, of course, is to get off this island--and this book does provide a lot of information about doing that. But unlike other infertility books, it is also about existing on this island and not allowing the experience to swallow you whole...try as it might.