In this collection, twenty-two authors take up the subject of wanting a baby and what happens to one's self-image and marriage/relationship when difficulties arise. All the contributors are accomplished writers--e.g. Amy Hempel, Michael Bérubé, Tama Janowitz--who tell stories of the miracles, disapppointments and sometimes horrors of the various reproductive technologies; the experience of childlessness when one/a couple desperately wants one; the joys of "success" via technology or adoption; what happens when every method fails.


This is a remarkable collection of first-rate writing. As a whole it informs readers that there is no one experience of infertility and when reproductive technologies are called forth the lived experiences for the woman and her husband/partner are complex even when the procedures are successful. A few of the chapters are especially notable.

For adoption, Barbara Jones's "Heedless Love" and Tama Janowitz's "Bringing Home Baby" are wonderfully written accounts that inform anyone who wonders about the depth of love between parent and child not connected by birth ("The irrevocable moment in becoming a parent is not the moment you conceive a child; it's the moment you conceive of her," Jones writes).

Helen Schulman's chapter, "The Habitual Aborter" addresses how "close two people can be and how far apart" when they're ravaged by the emotionally draining process of multiple miscarriage and still forge on in their desire to have a child. Sophie Cabot Black tells of a lesbian couple's attempts at artificial insemination in a chapter called "The Boys" (their name for the sperm).

Jill Bialosky's "Ex Utero" describes what it is like with "two babies in the ground, and the carrot is still dangling under our noses." "Missing Children," Bob Shacochis's account of repeated failures to carry a baby, is perhaps the most accomplished essay in the collection as he traces the complex emotional, financial, physical, spiritual, and relational issues involved in reproductive technologies, what he wryly calls the goddess Technologia who is "not now the protector but the enhancer--the madam, the pimp--here in the brothel of reproductive science, with its endless promises of redemption."

This is a remarkable book, but what is not included is problematic: What do poor, disenfranchised women do when they experience reproductive difficulties? Where/how do they find babies? Certainly not in the procedures that cost many of these couples their life's savings, and certainly not by flying to China.


Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Place Published

New York




Jill Bialosky & Helen Schulman

Page Count