In Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility (Chalice Press, 2016), Elizabeth Hagan opens her heart, describing with exquisite intimacy her excruciating feelings of biological failure, human disappointment and divine abandonment. The reader looking for support while living through infertility will find a friend who understands, and the friend looking for ways to offer support will find answers, in this warm and real account of the author’s attempts to have the baby she so dearly wants.
The paragraph above was the “blurb” or endorsement I wrote for this wonderful, touching new book. I had the privilege of reading parts of the manuscript in development as part of a writing group and to see the process Elizabeth went through in coming to her conclusions about what the experience of infertility really did in and for her life. She is forthright about how hard it was, about the devastation of failed attempts at IVF and the loss of pregnancies. Women who have been through such losses will recognize the emotional pain, sleepless nights, and strain on a marriage.
If the reader is a pastor, a medical professional, or a friend, Hagan gives you some guidance on how to be present and how not to make things worse. When friends and loved ones really come through, they are treasured. As Hagan told a seminary classmate:
“Making a baby has broken my heart deeper than I’ve ever known. But, at the same time, I’ve also felt more seen and loved by a few of you than I’ve ever imagined.”
I took a breath and went on, “So I’m thinking that sometimes the only way that real love can go deep down inside of us is for our heart to be cracked open. And through the pain, love has the room to seep into us and live.” (p. 57)
Hagan’s writing voice is much like her “in real life” persona: approachable, authentic, frank, and funny. This makes it all the harder to live through her grief as a reader, and all the more beautiful to see her work to make sense of her situation, medically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I highly recommend “Birthed” to women grappling with infertility, to doctors and nurses, to pastors and counselors, and to women who want to better understand how to be a friend and a support.
Listen to Hagan read from the book in this video posted on Instagram.
I received a digital copy of the manuscript for the purposes of writing the endorsement, and a copy of the book as a gift from the author.