Not Pregnant Poetry: Toledo Author Explores Fertility Highs and Lows

Local author Christina Reed carried the dreams of many young girls – to be married and have children – into her adult life. But when she met and married the love of her life, she found the parenting journey to be not at all what she had planned.

“As I was married to a woman, I figured I’d have to see a fertility specialist,” Reed explained. “My doctor was optimistic and saw nothing [that would have prevented pregnancy.]”

Even so, after two years and two IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments that resulted in pregnancies followed by miscarriages, she realized that “having a baby was off the table. After the second miscarriage, I had to come to terms with that,” she said.

You can be just a little bit pregnant
Also not pregnant at all
Or ever again
We can be so many things (Reed 15)

During her treatments, Reed began writing, ultimately creating the book Not Pregnant Poetry, which was illustrated by her wife Lindsey. It’s a raw, poignant and ultimately uplifting collection of feelings about a diagnosis that impacts 25 percent of all women.

She also created an Instagram page and website of the same name, because she felt she had to connect with women who were going through the same thing. “People really reached out to my poetry,” she explained. “It’s all part of the grieving process I’ve been through, so it was helping heal their wounds too.”

Every woman can learn about the continuing challenges of infertility, Reed said. “It can open your eyes to the different avenues we all take,” she said. It also helps everyone understand why “going to baby showers isn’t always fun,” she said.

It wasn’t the death
That was difficult
It was the insignificant role
I played in it all (Reed 26)

The Reed family today (left to right) – Christina, Hudson, Thomas and Lindsey.

“It was a very dark time,” Reed said. “I was really paralyzed with depression as I was coming to terms with this nightmare. It was very isolating because everything was set up for me to become a parent.” She found it difficult to go to social gatherings, and even to be happy for friends growing their families. 

At one point it was suggested that her wife consider becoming pregnant. “She said no,” Reed said. “We struggled through this and all the treatments together, and actually became much stronger because of it.”

In fact, as the book began to become a reality, “my wife took care of everything,” Reed said. “She edited the book and did all the illustrations.” 

Of all the things
I’ve had to love
And let go
You are
By far
The greatest (Reed 91)

During their fertility treatments, Reed and her wife discussed adoption. “I said no to adoption, but she convinced me to take fostering classes,” Reed said. They were wary about fostering children under five years old who might be returned to their birth parents, and, in fact, were assigned a two-week-old whose uncle was later located. They were able to adopt the child – Hudson – at the age of eight months. “He’s everything I absolutely wanted,” Reed said.  Later they provided respite care for a six-year-old, Thomas, and were able to adopt him.

I gave up on my dreams
Shortly after I found out
They would cause
Bankruptcy and body dysmorphia (Reed 52)

“When we’ve had disappointment in the past, we tended to be taught that if we work harder or try something else, we’ll be able to do it next time,” said reproductive therapist Julie Bindeman in Huff Post. “While that is the case quite often in life, it’s not how things work with fertility – it’s not something just can just easily figure out.”

Bindeman and other therapists share coping advice:

  1. Build a support system with your partner, family and friends.
  2. Feel your feelings and acknowledge that there’s no right or wrong way to feel.
  3. Talk about it, and don’t be afraid to share your story (if you’re comfortable).
  4. Practice self-care, even though you may feel betrayed by your body. Take a fertility break if that’s possible.
  5. Dive into activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  6. Try to remember that you’re not the only person facing these hurdles.
  7. Find experts you trust.
  8. Remove blame and regret, knowing that infertility is a medical condition.
  9. Understand that your partner might feel differently.
  10. Seek professional help.

You don’t have to plant the seed
For the flower to be yours (Reed 146)

“I’ve learned that my purpose was to be a mother, not to have a pregnancy,” Reed said. “You can do great things and tell a great story, even if the outcome is not what you thought it would be.”

Not Pregnant Poetry is available to read at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, or to purchase at Lulu.

Recent Articles