The Early Birds: A Mother's Story for Our Times
Jenny Minton's twin sons, conceived via in vitro, were born prematurely and spent nearly three months in the NICU. Minton recounts--honestly and fluidly--what this time was like for her and how her experiences caused her to question the culture of infertility and wide availability of fertility treatments. I suspect that this book will resonate most strongly with women who share Minton's experiences of infertility and prematurity; I also suspect that Minton's honesty about her priviledged social position will irk some readers. But as a reader who identifies with all of those things, I found this to be a compelling read (which is code for Jenny Minton made me cry).
From the book description: "In the winter of 2002, Jenny Minton delivered twin boys. She was thirty-one weeks pregnant, and her boys, conceived through in vitro fertilization, were more than two months early. Both boys were placed on immediate life support, and for sixty-four days they hovered, critically ill, in the neonatal intensive care unit of a New York City hospital. The Early Birds is a record of their time there and the story of Mintonâs harrowing, triumphant quest to bring her sons home." It's a well written story of the ups and downs of fertility treatments and premature birth. (I've been there having given birth to a 33-weeker and a 36-weeker.) However, it doesn't go far enough. Jenny wonders if fertility treatments give rise to premature births and possible birth effects, but never nails down the evidence or only gives a glimpse of a few studies on this subject. Honestly, this book needs a follow up in about 10 years. Did the fertility treatments result in a risky birth? Was the babies' prematurity cause for any worry down the road? If a child is conceived through "artificial" means, does this affect their intelligence, development and health? Jenny needs to take this story farther.