Monday, September 17, 2012

Breed Review

Confession time. I've wanted to be a mother my whole life. I always felt like having and raising children was what I was meant to do. I was ready to have kids as soon as I was married, over three years ago, but my husband wanted to wait a bit. We had been friends for a very long time before we got together and when we finally started dating everything happened really fast. So he wanted time for just the two of us. I'm really grateful he insisted on that and I wouldn't change the last three years for anything in the world. But I was really excited when we were finally ready to try to get pregnant last October. However, it became clear pretty quickly for reasons that I don't need to get into that something was wrong. I trusted my GYN, though, because I had been with her for years and just kept trying, charting my fertility, taking progesterone supplements, etc. That is, until she made some errors when putting me on Clomid for the first time last May. Then I switched to another doctor in her practice, who was fine, but it wasn't until I finally saw a fertility specialist at the end of July that I learned that getting pregnant wasn't just taking a while, it actually wouldn't happen at all without going through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Anyway, super long story short, I know what it's like to desperately want children, to be heartbroken month after month when it doesn't happen and to do anything to have one, from going gluten free to acupuncture to quitting spin class to going through test after test and finally scheduling an upcoming surgery. All this is even before we get to ICSE, the method we are going to use to hopefully get pregnant. Post-surgery, I will have my eggs stimulated and removed, fertilized and frozen for three months while I get shots of lupron to shut down and reboot my entire reproductive system in the hopes that I will be able to conceive and carry a baby (or two) sometime next year.

You might be wondering why I'm writing about my fertility, or lack thereof, in a book blog. I haven't been open about this struggle on facebook (although since I link this blog to FB, some people might end up reading it, which is fine), but haven't hidden it from my close friends or family either. I have avoided a lot of books about children recently because I simply couldn't take it. I needed distractions from the whole kid thing as I watched so many of my friends and people I know on facebook having children. My sweet brother even bought me a book called The Possibility of You for my birthday but I haven't been able to bring myself to read a book about giving children up for adoption when I can't even have one on my own.

Last week I spotted the review for Breed in Entertainment Weekly and it immediately caught my interest. Breed is the story of Alex and Leslie, an upper east side couple who have tried to get pregnant for three years using every possible method without success. That is until they fly to Slovenia and meet with a doctor who gives each of them three shots and make them drink an odd liquid that seems to boost their sex life. Immediately after they have crazy, violent sex and Leslie is sure that she is pregnant. But her pregnancy is odd. She sprouts hair all over her body (more than normal for pregnancy) and both she and Alex face strange, intense mood swings and an increasing desire for red meat.

At five months, she goes into labor and delivers two seemingly healthy (and one barely alive, misformed child that is quickly disposed of by the hospital without the parents knowing... although I had suspicions about that immediately) children: Adam and Alice. The story then shoots forward ten years and focuses on Adam, who is terrified by the things he overhears from his parents. He and his sister are locked in their rooms every night, but Adam uses a baby monitor to spy on his parents who have violent tendencies, continue to sprout hair, and who whisper in the dark about wanting to eat their children. They have neglected their formally successful careers and their gorgeous Manhattan townhouse is falling apart. Plus the family pets keep disappearing.

Adam and Alice decide to flee from home one night. The majority of the book concerns their attempts to run from their parents and their parents' attempts to bring them home. Their journey pulls in Adam's teacher, Michael, his boyfriend and the twins' aunt. They travel back and forth across the upper east and west sides, meeting other children who have similar stories to theirs.

The book was described as being a sort of Rosemary's Baby, a movie that I love, and it was to an extent. It was definitely creepy, especially as Leslie and Alex devolve into being more and more like animals. You really feel for the kids caught between loving their parents and fearing for their lives. It was definitely a bit of a cautionary tale for those of us who are reproductively challenged, but frankly, even as much as I want kids, I will draw the line at going to Slovenia and having a sketchy doctor shoot me with needles. The biggest thing I've learned from my own experience is to trust your gut. It took me a little too long to listen to my doubts and see a specialist and if I had to do anything over again, I'd go see a specialist earlier. In Breed, Leslie definitely has misgivings but in the end, goes against her instinct and it doesn't turn out well.

My one complain is the abrupt ending. Nothing was really resolved (*Note, I just read that the author is planning a sequel called Brood, which makes me feel better about the ending). I would have liked an epilogue of some sort but up until the ending, it was a very entertaining read. It freaked me out a little bit but also made me laugh at the irony of their situation. It definitely made me also feel better about my own issues, and that's the important part, right?!

Reviews: NY Times and NPR

Buy it at amazon and Barnes and Noble 

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