GS. vs. STA: Infertility

This email comes from Rebekka: 

I don't know if you can help me, but I would really appreciate some recommendations of romances to read that address infertility. As you know, most books that even mention it barely do, and it's usually more a case of, “Oh! My dead husband was sterile!” or it's some other problem easily fixed by the Mighty Wang.

The only romance I have read that actually deals with the emotional aspects of infertility – and which isn't magically fixed – is the Julia Quinn “Bridgerton” book When He Was Wicked (Francesca's story). My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for a year now and are about to start our first round of IVF. Even though I am only 27, our doctors say that we have less than a 5% chance of having a baby without it. Reading about other couples supporting and loving each other through such an emotional and difficult issue would really help me feel more hopeful that things can turn out all right, and that you can get through all this hard stuff together.

I remember being where Rebekka is, and it can be terribly isolating. I know that AAR has a list of romances like this (I love those lists, holy smokes), but it was last updated in 2009, and I wanted to see what romances published since then you'd recommend that featured infertility. What do you suggest? 

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  1. 1
    Maya S. says:

    Have you read Julia Quinn’s 2nd epilogue for “When He Was Wicked”?  I know she’s referred to it as her favorite thing she’s ever written, and it really is quite lovely. 

    My best wishes to you and your husband and I hope you find the love and support you need.

  2. 2

    While it’s not a complete romance, and I haven’t finished it yet, “Sing You Home” by Jodi Picoult is lovely!

  3. 3
    Lindleepw says:

    Here is a link to a free short story by Lucy Monroe dealing with infertility. The story isn’t the greatest but the ending has always stuck with me. And well…it’s free. =)…

    I have PCOS and while I’m neither married or trying for a child, I know infertility could be a problem in my future. I’ll be very interested in seeing what books are suggested here.

    Good luck with the IVF! I hope everything works out for you and your husband!

  4. 4
    Yulie29 says:

    When He Was Wicked was wonderful. I wish the second epilogues weren’t so pricey relative to their length, because that’s one HEA I’d love to read.

    I can think of several books in which infertility wasn’t the main focus of the group, but it was at least addressed: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas, Flawless by Carrie Lofty, Unclaimed by Courtney Milan and Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase.

    The third book in the Bronze Horseman trilogy, The Summer Garden, has an extended subplot about the h/h’s inability to conceive. I’m hesitant to recommend it, though, because it’s a very difficult trial for them and they come awfully close to not getting through it together. So not at all a comfort read.

    I hope things will turn out well for you and your husband, Rebekka.

  5. 5
    April says:

    Eloisa James deals with this theme in a really excellent, thoughtful way in a lot of her Historical Romances.

    I can’t think of a specific book myself because I tend to get the titles confused, but Your Wicked Ways is the one James mentions in Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels. So that could be a good place to start.

  6. 6
    Anony Miss says:

    Having been through many many years of IVF myself (socialized medicine FTW, or else we would be living in a tent know), I can tell you I have NEVER seen anything in romantic fiction that deals with that actual process. I’ve seen chemo, addictions, even ED, but the IVF process I’ve never seen dealt with (except in very wall-bangingly offensive examples of showing how “pathetic” an infertile woman was, that she is willing to do IVF. Oh gag me on a syringe). If it’s out there I would LOVE to know.

    (changes tone of voice off of rant)
    That said – best of luck and prayers to you Rebekka – IVF is a godsend. Keep your sense of humor (and ice packs for the injections). My two daughters were worth every last poke.

  7. 7
    Kornzohar says:

    Shana Galen has several I believe-
    in Lord and Lady Spy they go through several miscarriages, and there is another (can’t remember the title) where the couple has a very hard time conceiving. I think they eventually do (which is revealed in another book…)
    Hope this helps!

  8. 8
    Susan says:

    Most of the books I can think of are the type you cite—where the heroine thinks she’s infertile because she’s actually with a partner who’s infertile (such as Mary Balogh’s Seducing an Angel).  Then, in romancelandia fashion, she conceives when she gets together with her true love.

    Someone already mentioned Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband, which has a different kind of resolution.

    I suspect that neither of these scenarios are what you’re looking for in your situation.  I can’t really think of a book where infertility/IVF is a central theme, tho.

    Best of luck to you both with the book search and your IVF.

  9. 9
    Rocketrder says:

    Heart Choice by Robin Owens is a fantasy/sf that deals quite a bit with the infertility issues. The heroine, Mitchella, will not be able to conceive due to a childhood illness and no miracle cures solve the problem. There is no IVF but it deals with adoption and definitely the issues that arise from the infertility.

    I agree that infertility would be a boon in more romance novels. As someone else who has struggled with it, it is frustrating to see characters pretty much think about getting pregnant and ta-da! they are.

  10. 10

    I just read a book that you might enjoy. It’s called A Dry Creek Bed by Avery Flynn. This is the second in a series but you don’t have to read the first book to get what’s going on here. (Although, I loved the first one too!)

    But in A Dry Creek Bed, the heroine finds out that she will never be able to have a baby and the hero, who is obviously beyond smitten with her, really wants a family. The subject of infertility isn’t brushed under the rug, nor is it cured magically – it’s dealt with in a sensitive and real fashion. Plus, the book is a romantic suspense so it definitely gets your mind off of everything else. I really, really liked it and strongly suggest it!

    Best of luck, Rebekka – I’m sending you many positive thoughts and prayers!

  11. 11
    tambourine says:

    i think christina jones’s book “jumping to conclusions” dealt with the hero being infertile and worrying about this, but then it turns out she doesn’t want children.

    i may be wrong, though. and he may have been infertile because he got kicked down there by a horse…

  12. 12
    cleo says:

    I don’t think Your Wicked Ways deals with infertility – the whole plot revolves around Helene wanting to get pregnant, but the problem isn’t that she’s infertile, it’s that she’s not having sex (because she’s estranged from her husband). 

    I’m trying to remember any Eloisa James books that deal with infertility and I’m coming up blank right now.

  13. 13
    library addict says:

    I hated the Julia Quinn 2nd epilogue of When He Was Wicked. I know she feels it’s the best story she’s ever written, but the underlying message of “If you are just patient enough and truly in love you will conceive and have a baby” really rubbed me the wrong way.

  14. 14
    Becca says:

    What I’d like to see is a story where IVF doesn’t work, and the couple wind up adopting (waves hand).  The only story like that I can remember is a Lindsay Graham (?) book where she goes to Russia and adopts a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. That book hit the wall.

  15. 15

    Just want to give Rebekka a hug.

  16. 16
    RachelT says:

    You might find The Trouble with Joe an interesting book by Emilie Richards. Here it is the husband who is sterile, and much of the book is about his coming to terms with the concept of adopting a baby that he has not fathered. I don’t know if it is appropriate to reference a reiew from another site, but as you have already mentioned AAR’s list, I think you might find it helpful to lookat their very thoughtful review of this book.

  17. 17
    Emily says:

    the issue was dealt with in James’s Duchess by Night. I really liked except this one thing kinda ruined it for me.
    Second some couples remain infertile for a long time, but I have known people who were infertile and then they got pregnant. A guy on a blog I liked to read was married 8 years before he and his wife had a child ( and they hoped to get pregnant the whole time). then a friend of my gandmother’s thought she was infertile waited years adopted a daughter and then had kids. It does happen.
    That being said it would be helpful to know what you are looking for. Are looking for an ending where the couple adopts and becomes resigned to their fate or are hoping for a book with a magical prenancy works.
    Unclaimed is the former. so is a cute little novella I read by Beverly Jenkins called “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Its holiday themed but you could read it now. Its actually Thanksgiving themed but you could read it now. It was part of an anthonlogy called Baby Let It Snow. I recommend it.
    When He Was Wicked and Duchess by Night are the latter, involving a divine pregnancy although both of these stories contain a pregnancy that happens after h/h have been together a long time. (WWHW is in the second epilogue only.)
    I wish you luck! Let us know what happens.

  18. 18
    Caitlin Getchell says:

    “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon has an infertility subplot. It isn’t specifically a romance, but it does fall loosely into the category.

  19. 19
    Becca says:

    <quote>That being said it would be helpful to know what you are looking for. Are looking for an ending where the couple adopts and becomes resigned to their fate </quote>

    or are not “resigned” so much as embrace the idea, and the children aren’t “second best”

  20. 20
    Flo_over says:

    Since I don’t know any books I’d like to toss in… adoption rules.  I am adopted.  I have the BEST parents on the planet.  They love me fiercely, deeply, devotedly, endlessly, and have taught me what it means to be a kind and loving person.  Not once, EVER, have I not felt like their daughter.  Not ever.  To the point where my mother even suggested I could go look for my birth mother (for health history reasons) and she wouldn’t be upset.  I told her I didn’t need too.  I had MY mother.  In every EVERY way that counts she is my mother.  The woman who cried with me, laughed with me, taught me a love of literature and music.  Not some stranger who baked me for 9 months (although I am ETERNALLY grateful to her for giving me a shot at life!!!!). 

    I could go on but… even if you don’t have a baby of your own body, whatever person God gives you, whoever comes into your life, love them, love love love LOVE them.  Even if they arrive by stork.  Literally.

  21. 21
    a9ymous says:

    I don’t have any reading recommendations for you, but I did want to say that I will keep you in my prayers.

    Like a few of the other commenters mentioned, I have a family member who went through IVF with his wife without any luck. When they finally “gave up” trying to get pregnant, they actually did get pregnant. They now have two daughters.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t stress yourselves out with this process… Just pray for acceptance of wherever you’re life leads you. You just might find that it leads to parenthood.

    ? ? ?

  22. 22
    Gina Lamm says:

    As someone who is currently dealing with infertility I am in total agreement with you, Rebekka! There needs to be more romances dealing with the emotional turmoil that trying to conceive can cause when it’s not so cut-and-dried. *makes note on to-do list: write contemporary romance with IVF plot* :)
    Good luck with your journey!

  23. 23
    Sasha says:

    I don’t have any great book recommendations, but one movie I remember watching with new eyes while dealing with infertility was the Coen Bros. “Raising Arizona”.  After dealing with it personally, the insanity of that movie seemed to be played a lot more straight than I saw when I viewed it before infertility.

    And the ending is one of the best I can remember.  I still tear up since there is quite a bit of ambiguity to the HEA and how it is achieved.  Highly recommend while going through treatment.  I laughed and cried during the scene where the H.I. (in a voice over) says,

    “Biology conspired to keep us childless…At first I could not believe it. That this woman, who looked as fertile as the Tennessee valley, could not bear children. But the doctor explained that her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.”

    Hope this helps during your journey –

  24. 24
    willaful says:

    The best one I know is an old Harlequin, A Secret Sorrow by Karen van der Zee.

    We had infertility on both sides, and my miracle is stomping around the house singing at the top of his lungs at this moment… I wish the same for you someday.

  25. 25
    wascally1 says:

    I really enjoyed Lucy Monroe’s HP “The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain”. While it’s the last in a series, the heroine in the story is struggling with her diagnosis of endometriosis and the fertility issues that come along with it.  Also, “True Confessions” by Rachel Gibson has a heroine who is post hysterectomy and has come to terms with the fact that she’ll never have children the “traditional” way.

  26. 26
    Emily says:

    Sorry not trying to offend.  I do think some couples go through some type of mourning period where they feel a loss for not being able to have their own children. I also know couples who were childless but chose not to adopt. Still my mom had a teacher friend who couldn’t have kids, but enjoyed being there for her nieces and nephews and her career and her husband and had a full life.

        That being said the novella I recommended includes a woman who does embrace the opportunity to have adopt.

  27. 27
    April says:

    I haven’t read that one in ages so that sounds about right. I think infertility is brought up in one or more of the Desperate Duchesses books, but it was probably something along similar lines so those are probably out too.

    My apologies, Rebekka! I hope some of the other books work out better.

  28. 28
    Marissa Fortin says:

    “Seven Years to Sin” by Sylvia Day has an infertile heroine whose infertility is NOT magically resolved by the end of the book.

  29. 29

    Sarah Morgan’s ‘Once a Ferrara Wife’ pub Mills & Boon/Harlequin has an heroine who firstly has an ectopic pregnancy, is told she is infertile due to damage, adopts, accidently becomes pregnant but she and her husband experience the pregnancy as unnerving and difficult and decide they won’t try again so any more children will be adopted. This is set against a background of required breeding of heirs.

    It isn’t a story about IVF or magic ‘bits’ delivering miraculous children but of their experience as a couple working their way through their circumstances to their HEA

  30. 30
    Ariella says:

    Rebekka –
    It’s not infertility (but close), instead in Lorelei James’ “Shoulda been a Cowboy” the main female character is an orphan from Eastern European where she had a hysterectomy at a young age to cure cysts. 
    The story is filled with them adopting children.  It’s quite beautiful

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