I've been really lucky. I've been pregnant two times, intentionally, both times resulting in healthy babies who are now healthy teens. But all along the way I've met countless women with far less luck. Infertility. Miscarriages, suffered in silence, because well, while they might be wrenching to the would-be mom, they aren't really anything yet, are they? Infertility treatments. Adoption. Time and time again we say to others, "No big deal..." but everything surrounding pregnancy and motherhood is in fact a big deal. In fact, the biggest deal striking at the core of our existence. Even when we choose to forego that experience, as so many of my close friends have, or given in to the impossibility, - they’re all powerful acts, with profound consequences.
I just finished my good friend Peggy Orenstein's new book, Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother. It’s a terrific read. Highly recommended.
The book would have spoken to me regardless, but it’s even richer because my friendship with Peggy is so precious to me. I met her, a then successful journalist working on her first book, because she'd married a Director we were involved with. I was very close with his producer, Lynn O’Donnell. Tragically, Lynn developed ovarian cancer right after her daughter was born. During those three years fighting the illness, I needed a knowledgeable but safe conduit. Peggy and I started emailing. And so we’ve continued for a decade, writing back and forth at great length. We've met face to face only a couple of times. In fact, for what would be the second time, Peggy walked into the kitchen where I was waiting, then walked back out again. Returning a few minutes later she laughed, “I thought you were someone else all this time….But that’s OK. It’s OK it’s you.”
Over the years I would whine about finding my place in the world, managing my career, if you could call it that, balancing my close partnership with my husband, and of course, the kids. Peggy was writing articles and books. And managing her own bout with cancer, career, miscarriages, adoption, misgivings, and birth. We would write directly, or I would catch up via her NYT Sunday magazine articles. I’ll never forget the Sunday morning John woke me by throwing the magazine on the bed, “Here’s what Peggy’s been up to.” “35 and Mortal: A Breast Cancer Diary” I checked my email archive and damn, there it was, the last email saved, dated the day before her surprising diagnosis. And so it continued over the decade. Funny stories, Lurching, painful movements forward, supportive dialogue. One day she said, “I’m going to write my memoir and my HD crashed. Did you bother to keep a copy of my emails? ”
And so now, here it is, Peggy's moving, rich study of her journey from ambivalence to motherhood. It's such a clear narrative for our time. There are twists and turns, a coming to terms with the hand you’re dealt. And though I knew the outcome, I was still on pins and needles, so deftly has she spun the story. And it's not just about procreation, on top of everything else, Peggy has created a glorious, very honest love story. I highly recommend it.