A Little Pregnant: Our Memoir of Fertility, Infertility, and a Marriage, by Linda Carbone, Ed Decker

A Little Pregnant: Our Memoir of Fertility, Infertility, and a Marriage

by Linda Carbone, Ed Decker

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Format: Paperback, 240pp. 
ISBN: 0802137458
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc. 
Pub. Date: April 2001 
Edition Desc: 1 PBK ED

Description from 

Linda Carbone was scheduled for a fetal sonogram. A bit superstitious after having suffered two miscarriages, she wanted to skip the appointment, but the fertility clinic that helped her conceive this baby convinced her to go: "There aren't that many highs in life." Instead of seeing the baby's heartbeat, though, she watched as the technician kept enlarging the image on the screen, looking for a heartbeat or any sign of movement. The pregnancy wasn't viable, she was told, and the baby's body was about to "crumple." Carbone would soon miscarry for the third time.

A Little Pregnant is filled with moments like this that make one wonder just how much cruelty a person can endure. Carbone, an editor, and her husband, Ed Decker, a writer, faced nearly a decade of Job-like trials in their quest for a child. She was injected with dangerous, personality-altering hormones and underwent in vitro fertilization; his testicles were operated on to relieve low sperm count; they burst into tears whenever another couple or family member had a baby. And they drove each other crazy, nearly divorcing, not the least because Decker was obsessed with parenthood and Carbone was indifferent about it--and eventually developed a crush on her fertility doctor. All these soul-sapping events are told in a compulsively readable she-said, he-said format, suspended in a sort of magical realism, as if the pair can't now comprehend why they tortured themselves--or allowed themselves to be tortured by others--for so long.

The book escapes what might have been an overly oppressive tone because the reader knows from the start that Decker and Carbone did have a healthy baby girl, after--almost implausibly--an anguishing adoption attempt failed and they had finally resigned themselves to being childless. This is a magnificent examination of self-delusion, the cruelties of imperfect technology, and the gripping allure of parenthood. --Erica Jorgensen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

"By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this fresh, self-mocking look at life's frustrations is above all a literary pleasure, and a great read. Carbone and Decker, in describing their struggle to get 'a little pregnant,' have also offered a breathtakingly candid portrait of 'scenes from a marriage.' It's a stunning pas de deux." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Lis Harris, author of Rules of Engagement: Four Couples and American Marriage Today

"A moving and poignant story told by two unflinchingly honest veterans of the fertility wars. Carbone's and Decker's alternating stories, so different in tone and perspective, are alike in their clarity and range of understanding." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Jane Brox, author of Five Thousand Days Like This One: An American Family History

"There never is just one story, and Ed Decker's and Linda Carbone's alternating viewpoints provide us with the many stories that comprise their life-changing personal journey through infertility and the world of modern medicine. A Little Pregnant is compelling in the way it illustrates how life itself sets us on unimaginable courses, and how our desires can sometimes make us unrecognizable to ourselves." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Patty Dann, author of The Baby Boat: A Memoir of Adoption

"A Little Pregnant is a beautiful dance of a book. For the first time we are let into the complex private lives of not only a mother-to-be but a father in a heartbreaking and ultimately joyful quest to be a family." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description 

A Little Pregnant is a poignant and refreshingly honest account of a husband and wife struggling over the course of a decade to have a child. Linda Carbone and Ed Decker offer a moving appraisal of their wrenching, confusing, frustrating, and sometimes comic ordeal. She feels ambivalent about having children; he has an urgent need to have them, at all costs. In alternating chapters, husband and wife present their own powerful versions of their descent into medical and marital turmoil -- as well as their story's unexpected happy ending.

From the Back Cover

What happens to your marriage, your sexuality, and your self-image when you try and fail year after year to do what comes effortlessly to almost everyone else: have a baby? How do you know when it is time to move on to the next level of medical intervention, or to adoption, and when it is time to stop?

In A Little Pregnant, Linda Carbone and Ed Decker offer a moving appraisal of their wrenching, confusing, frustrating, and sometimes comic attempts for nearly ten years to become parents. She feels ambivalent about having children; he has an urgent need to have them, at all costs. In alternating chapters, husband and wife present their own versions of their descent into medical and marital turmoil.

This is a story of self-discovery by two quirky observers, best friends who are deeply in love but who rarely find themselves in the same psychological place at the same time as the years and the diagnoses pile up. The endless parade of medical options makes the couple's doctor a collaborator in their drama. His role is intensified as the wife's friendship with him deepens into sexual desire. Meanwhile, the husband, obsessively nervous about producing sperm samples on demand and ever fearful that his wife will decide she's had enough, finds himself in the grip of anxiety attacks that send him into therapy.

Written with a mesmerizing power and supple grace, this candid exploration of what infertility can do to a marriage ranges from heartbreaking to hilarious, from cynical to spiritual. Looking back on all the surgeries, miscarriages, fertility drugs, and adoption attempts, and on the small army of professionals called on to treat them, the couple examines the shifting permutations of loyalty and love that brought them through a decade of pain and promise-culminating in the quiet arrival of a child when all hope seemed lost.

For couples, for parents, for fertility patients, and for all of us who have ever desperately wanted something we couldn't have or wondered how far we'd be willing to go for the person we love, this poignant, compelling memoir will linger in the mind and heart long after the last page is turned. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author 

Linda Carbone has been editing other people's books for twenty years. This is her first publication. Ed Decker is a freelance writer whose humor and opinion pieces have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. They have been married since 1982. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Description from

From Library Journal

Carbone and Decker have written a personal diary of their struggles to have a child. In alternating chapters the two bare their souls, describing the invasive and impersonal medical procedures they endured to conceive the child he so desperately wants. Use of indelicate slang may startle some readers, and statements about various options can appear insensitive and offensive ("the hybrid child"), but midway through this sometimes whiney, wordy, self-centered story the reader is hooked. The adoption episode is particularly heart-rending. Carbone and Decker do not pretend to offer recommendations to others in a similar situation, and couples who remain childless may not find much comfort here--after nine long years Linda does become pregnant without intervention and gives birth to a healthy daughter. Written like a popular magazine article, this should circulate well in public libraries. There is little else of such a personal nature available.--Margaret Cardwell, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

From Kirkus Reviews

An affecting chronicle of one couple's nearly decade-long struggle to have a baby. Writing alternate chapters, Carbone, a book editor, and Decker, a freelance writer, have produced an astonishingly revealing account of their experiences during years of infertility. Their attempts to conceive a child began in August 1986, and their daughter, Julia, was born in January 1995. Between those dates, Carbone had two miscarriages, was diagnosed with and treated for endometriosis, had some ten surgical procedures (hysterosalpingograms, hysteroscopies, laparoscopies), and Decker had surgery to remove testicular varicose veins in a futile attempt to improve his sperm quality. When conventional medicine did not help, they turned to chiropractic and acupuncture. In vitro fertilization failed, as did the GIFT procedure, whereby sperm and egg are united not in a petri dish but in the Fallopian tubes. Adoption appeared to be their only remaining option. Meanwhile, with their sex lives regulated and mechanized, Carbone had fallen into a fantasy romance with her fertility doctor, and Decker's performance anxiety had sent him to a therapist and to a sperm bank for donor sperm just in case. Their drama reaches its climax when the birth mother they eventually locate changes her mind about giving up her baby for adoption at the very last moment, but the very next day a pregnancy test shows that Carbone is herself pregnant. What makes this couple's story unusual is that it's the husband, not the wife, who is desperate for a child. In Carbone's words, "I just followed the script Ed handed me. This was his show." What is surprising also is that this articulate couple, who reveal so much here, apparently didn'tshare their feelings with each other as these events were happening and rarely discussed their infertility during the years it dominated their lives. For six million similarly afflicted American couples, the lessons to be learned from this candid account are as much about love and marriage as about infertility. (First printing of 30,000; author tour) (For another look at infertility, see Liza Freilicher and Jennifer Scheu with Suzanne Wetanson, Conceiving Lac: A Family Story, p. 691.)

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