Crossing the Moon: A Journey Through Infertility

Alden, Paulette Bates

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy
  • Date of entry: Apr-29-1997


As she turns 39, Alden begins a four-year quest to have a child. Despite her need and desire, she wonders whether having one will keep her from her work, writing. She and her husband Jeff go from not-really-trying, through temperature charts, to a series of painful and expensive procedures, all to no avail.

The memoir describes not only Alden's search for a child but for herself as well. Her relationship with her mother, her immersion in the counterculture ("in a middle-class way"), the importance of writing, her attempts to keep her own life under control, and her satisfying marriage are important elements in the memoir.


The first scene, at a Dairy Queen at which Alden observes two mothers and their children, sets the stage for this story, introducing themes that will recur: wanting a child yet feeling uncertain about having one, women's roles, the need to reinvent the self, and the writer's life. Readers get a patient's view of the medical world--its language and people and technologies--and are privy to details of the emotional and physical upheaval this journey to survive infertility demands. Even after four years of pain, depression, and determination, Alden describes her inability to quit trying to have a child: hope "was like a worm that someone chops up over and over with a hoe, and still pieces of it live . . . It wiggled away, a tiny piece of it, to live on its own."

Concomitant with this desire to have a child is Alden's need to publish. After studying with Max Steele, Wallace Stegner, and Tillie Olsen, Alden has spent her life teaching and writing. When she learned her book of short stories was to be published, she celebrated in words similar to those a newly pregnant woman might use: "'I was going to have a book!'" Because writing can assuage her pain and since it helps fight against loss and death, she writes this memoir. Her honesty, quiet wit, and clear prose inform every page.


Hungry Mind Press

Place Published

Saint Paul, Minn.



Page Count