WAITING FOR DAISY by Peggy Orenstein

Happy New Year! I am back from my trip to Colorado. After a frigid first few days, the weather warmed up and we had some beautiful ski weather. And the backdrop of the snow-covered Rockies was gorgeous. Sometimes it is just refreshing to be in a totally different part of the country – different terrain, different pace of life.

I read two books while I was gone – Waiting For Daisy and Revolutionary Road (to be reviewed tomorrow) and visited another of the Great Bookstores I've Never Been To – the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. It's a great store with an excellent fiction selection, and its layout makes you feel like you are wandering through someone's (albeit huge) personal library. Old wooden shelves, big overstuffed chairs – a lovely place to spend an hour browsing. I picked up a signed copy of Without A Backward Glance, a book I've had my eye on for a while. It is now resting atop the teetering TBR pile.

On to the review…

Daisy I really should have liked Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy. It's about a woman in her late thirties who decides that she does want to have children after all (she had her husband had been on the fence for a long time). The book chronicles her experience with infertility, including multiple rounds of fertility drugs and IVF, miscarriages, attempts at surrogacy and adoption, and the eventual birth of her daughter Daisy by natural conception.

As someone who experienced infertility and went through many of the same procedures that Orenstein did, I found much of the book to be pretty familiar. The waiting, the disappointments, the anxiety, the loss of control - this was common ground for me. What disappointed me about this book was that it felt more like an infertility diary than a memoir. There has been so much written about infertility-related topics in the last 10 years, and Waiting for Daisy didn't really add much to what's out there. Also, the author was ambivalent about having children throughout the whole book, which made her honest but also ultimately less sympathetic in my mind. It was hard to feel a lot of emotion when each disappointment seemed to have been tinged with relief in her mind.

There was a section in the middle where Orenstein traveled to Japan and experienced a miscarriage while researching the effect of the Hiroshima bombing on young women. That interlude was interesting, but again, it felt more like a travel diary at times than a memoir. Orenstein was so unhappy most of the time that I learned more about her moods than about the country and the trip's impact on her journey toward motherhood.

I don't mean to be harsh on Orenstein. Infertility is an intensely personal experience, and it impacts people differently. She is, of course, entitled to her own experiences and emotions, and she certainly needn't justify how she felt about becoming a mother and how all of the losses and frustration impacted her. I just wonder why she wrote the book – was she simply unburdening a few years' worth of intense emotions? was she hoping to help others in the same boat? If her book was ultimately a celebration of motherhood and her newborn daughter (hence the title), why did she spend so little time talking about her?

I would recommend this book to someone going through IVF or making tough decisions about surrogacy and adoption, just to remind themselves that they are not alone, that others have forged those difficult grounds. Otherwise, I am not sure what readers would get out of this book.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who has read Waiting for Daisy - do you agree?

4 Comments

  • January 1, 2009 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year!

  • January 1, 2009 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I did a Spotlight on Books post on the Tattered Cover which was for She Is Too Fond of Reading. I LOVED that store. Glad you had a good trip.
    Happy 2009 and I can’t wait to read your review of R. Road.

  • January 1, 2009 - 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had Waiting for Daisy on my list for awhile, having gone through many of the same struggles you mentioned. I’m grateful for your review, because I think the same reasons why it might not have appealled to you would be the same for me also.
    I picked up “Without a Backward Glance” at the library the other week, so that one is waiting on my night table, too.

  • January 20, 2009 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

    hmm, waiting for daisy sounds like it might be a good read

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