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Not Trying

Infertility, Childlessness, and Ambivalence

Kristin J. Wilson

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title page, Copyright

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pp. vii-x

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1. Entering Otherhood

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pp. 1-18

“How’re you doing with your plight?” asked my new fertility doctor when he entered the exam room. While sitting fully clothed awaiting this initial consultation, I looked over the thick files that constituted my fertility history up to that point (it would get...

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2. Conceiving Stratification

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pp. 19-38

Procreation is a fact of life. Actually, it is the fact of life. Infertility, then, can be confounding, albeit in different ways. For example, the stigma of infertility is so strong in Ireland that couples stay silent on the matter, making it seem as if the condition...

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3. Motherhood from the Margins

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pp. 39-73

Women can be single, childless, professionals, artists, healers, nuns, and workers; but they are also mothers a priori, imbued by society with a maternal femininity. In their book Pregnant Pictures, Matthews and Wexler (2000, 2) posit, “Most women...

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4. Indecisions

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pp. 74-100

Gloria succinctly—if a bit cynically—outlines the standard life course in US society. But when it comes to the part about starting a family, the women I talked with all found themselves off that course to one degree or another, at times intentionally and...

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5. Ascribed Motherhood

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pp. 101-116

Instead of blaming society or personal failure, the women I talked with, who tend to find their infertility or childlessness to be mostly a positive or neutral outcome, commonly attribute their condition to chance or “God’s will” or “God’s plan...

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6. Realizations

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pp. 117-137

LaWanda Jackson, a forty-two-year-old nurse’s aide, tells me that five years ago she did not want children but that she did not feel definite about that decision. More recently she began wanting children, but she volunteers—rather adamantly, in fact—that...

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7. Interventions

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pp. 138-167

The women of this study rarely mention the moral concerns that are sometimes part of the public debate about ARTs. Other people worry about the personhood of embryos, the unknown health consequences for women, and the dangers of creating...

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8. From Mandate to Option

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pp. 168-177

Procreative freedom has to encompass all women to be any freedom at all. To be freely chosen, motherhood and nonmotherhood must be attractive, acceptable options for all women. Fertility monitoring and treatment are not just about women...

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pp. 178-180

All names used in this book are pseudonyms, a few chosen by the respondents themselves; I attempt to preserve the ethnic origin suggested by their actual names. All the women listed as infertile are either medically or personally identified as such...


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pp. 181-194


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pp. 195-206

E-ISBN-13: 9780826519986
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826519962

Publication Year: 2014