Book Review – The Empty Picture Frame

I have been following along with Mels Barren Bitches book tours since they began but had never participated until now. The book for this tour is The Empty Picture Frame by Jenna Nadeau (a fellow blogger) with insight from her husband Mike interjected throughout the chapters.

I had every intention of getting this post up last night but Ontario Hydro decided that they needed to do routine repairs between the hours of 7 and 10 pm. With no electricity or internet I had to sit on the deck with a glass of wine watching the fireflies in the field. It was tough but I did it.

I found the book to be a very quick read. Although there were some areas of the book I could relate to I did think that our journey was so different than Jenna and Mikes that it made me feel like I was intruding on the whole IF issue. Like I was a fake IFer, a fraud. You can read about our journey by clicking on the Still Waiting Journey located in the sidebar.

Onto the questions.

Did your clinic have a Baby Day like Jenna described? Even if not, did you ever have a moment like that in the clinic, with newborn babies being brought in, or a woman cycling who brought her child with her? How did you deal with it?
If our clinic has Baby Days I am not aware of them. There are several large picture frames lining the halls with photos of smiling babies and I would have to walk by these photos every time I went in for bloodwork, ultrasounds and inseminations. On a good day these little faces gave me hope. On a bad day I kept my head down avoiding each and every one.
During a routine b/w and u/s appointment Sgt and I sat in the waiting room with two other couples flipping through old issues of Macleans. One of the other couples were there for routine b/w like us and the other had just gone through an egg retrieval. While we were all sat there lost in our own thoughts in walks a couple with their 2 year old. They took a seat in the waiting room after signing in. While dad sat flipping through the magazines mom was doing everything she could to entertain this little one even though she had not brought anything along to entertain her with. Mom tried to show the little one pictures in the magazines and the little one wanted to tear up all the pages. Soon mom gave up and handed the toddle the magazines, letting her tear to her hearts content. Sgt and I glanced at one another rolling our eyes. I happened to catch the eye of one of the ladies there room and her look said “Get that kid out of here.” Lucky for me I was called back into the examine room shortly after.

At several points in the book, Jenna describes how she felt that motherhood was a “calling” for her — the conviction that she was “called” to be a mother and that she would achieve that goal someday, somehow. Do you feel the same sense of “calling” in your pursuit of parenthood?
I clearly remember the moment I heard the calling Jenna speaks so often about. I was 12 years old and had been asked to babysit by our neighbour. Her son was 3 and her daughter just 10 days old. The little boy was in bed for the night and I sat on the couch with the tiny infant snuggled on my chest. Sitting there smelling her sweet little head, feeling the rise and fall of her breathing and watching the sleep-smiles fluttering across her tiny face was heaven to me. I knew then I would be a mother and it wasn’t just something I would do. It was (and is) who I am. After having our first two boys I still felt a void in my heart. I knew I wasn’t complete. I filled that void for many years by providing childcare to families in our community and loved each and every child that came into my home. It took us many years to have another child (several years trying to adopt and two years of treatment and miscarriages) before Graeme. People ask us what we were thinking having another when we were so close to being empty nesters but what they don’t see is the years of heartache and longing. One day when Graeme is older Sgt and I will look into fostering children. Like I said before being a mother is who I am and who I will always be.

The last chapter is a guide to the fertiles reading the book on how to respond and not respond to a situation. Some of the reactions and commentary has happened to many people. What was the best reaction you got to your story and what was the worst?
We had so many positive reactions during our journey but the one that really stands out for me came from a co-worker, Meghan. After every appointment with the RE Meghan would show guenuine intersted and always asked questions I was happy to answer. I shared details with her because not once did she ever say something like “Why not adopt? You already have 2, why more?”. Because I was “growing eggs” she would refer to me as Mama Hen, something that made me smile even on a bad day. She listened, really listened without saying a word during the miscarriages Unlike some others. When our last cycle worked she began refering to Graeme and the Little Chicken. Even now when we talk on the phone she asks how the Little Chicken is.
Chosing the worst response/reaction is tough. There were several but the one that really sticks with me (and I think always will) came from one of the nurses at our clinic. I had just come home from the hospital after having my D&E for the missed miscarriage at 12 weeks. Wanting to jump right back into treatment I called the clinic to see how soon I could cycle again. Nurse X, who I had always liked and respected for her humor and encouragement, took my call. As we talked about the miscarriage she said “At least you know you can get pregnant.” I was stunned and could only respond with a quiet “Yes.”. After the call ended and I had time to get over the shock of her statement I had several comebacks running through my mind and was kicking myself for not thinking of them sooner.

6 thoughts on “Book Review – The Empty Picture Frame

  1. JuliaS

    My doc’s office has a wall too. All those little faces – sometimes they were a beacon of hope and other times another taunt.

    Of all the places to receive a lousy comment like that from – your doc’s office is the last place it should come from! I am so sorry – though, sadly, not surprised. I heard that many times over and over again. Yes, I could get pg – but I also could miscarry and did, several times. It turned out to be a blessing and a curse.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Ellen K.

    I cannot believe the nurse said that! Ouch.

    My clinic didn’t have a Baby Day or “success” bulletin board, for which I was thankful. There were a couple of small baby pictures in the RE’s consultation office, but I think he changes them out or only posts them for a short while.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. loribeth

    Hi from another Ontarian! Going slightly off topic, I was reading your story from the sidebar link & couldn’t believe that so many CAS social workers gave you a hard time because you’re military!! Kind of takes the shine off all those yellow ribbons, eh?

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your responses. The one about the toddler ripping apart the magazine gave me a chuckle. Bad enough to bring a baby to a clinic at all, but at least come prepared!!

  4. Caba

    Our clinic thankfully didn’t have a baby wall. But a few times I was there people came with kids. I HATED it. I am not one to easily see outside of my own pain.

    I’m sorry your nurse said that. I’ve had people say that about other people to me, and I’m always like “What?? Is that supposed to be helpful??”

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. Samantha

    I thought the baby day in Jenna’s clinic was just cruel. I didn’t object to a parent having a child at the clinic for treatment – sometimes child care can’t be arranged – but it seems a fertility clinic to arrange a day when others can come in and show their successes – that’s just rubbing everybody’s else’s noses in it.

    I never think of the snappy comebacks until after I’m out of the situation!

  6. Deb

    What a great coworker! But that nurse certainly wasn’t thinking clearly that day. I probably would have been the woman with the evil look to the kid. For some reason lately I just can’t find the patience to deal with strangers bad behavior. I was touched by your account of when you realized your calling and how you will always find ways to fulfill it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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