When Infertility Pops Up
I was sitting in the carpool line, reading Simon Parkin’s Death By Video Game, a book that Josh got me as a tongue-in-cheek joke since — based on the percentage of my day that I spend playing, making, or thinking about games — it is likely that when I kick it, my hands will be on a controller. It’s a very good read, and I’m enjoying the way the chapters are arranged. They each focus on a single benefit or detriment of playing video games.
But I wasn’t expecting infertility to crop up in a chapter titled “Hiding Places.”
Sometimes I unexpectedly encounter infertility in a book or a movie or a song — part of a plotline or a fact about a character — and it feels like coming across a cricket, always and wholly unwelcome. Other times I unexpectedly encounter infertility and it’s more like a ghost, bittersweet to catch a glimpse of that world but also maybe a little… comforting? I guess I only have warm feelings towards ghosts and the idea that we could have a chance to see someone again.
This encounter was more of the ghost variety. I startled when the story started: “Ferguson and his wife, Sarah, had been married for seven years, and, during that time, had ‘never not been trying for a baby’.” They experienced an ectopic pregnancy, and his wife lost one fallopian tube. She remained in the hospital that night.
The part that gutted me while I sat in the car came next. Parkin writes,
After the operation Ferguson wasn’t allowed into the ward to see Sarah, who needed rest. In the chaos of the emergency, no one had taken a moment to explain to him why, as he puts it, he wasn’t going to be a dad any longer. Instead, they sent him home.
Their chapter revolves around using games as a healthy escape; not as a way of not dealing with problems, but as a way to buy yourself time to think as you play, or to keep teens off unsafe streets, or to give people a place to escape to when the real world is unbearable. The chapter also contains a discussion with a husband-wife team who describe video games as digital cathedrals, serving the same purpose — for some people — as awe-inspiring churches.
“Humans need cathedrals. Or, at very least, they need somewhere to go for refuge, reflection, sanctuary and rest,” Auriea Harvey says in the book.
It’s a really gorgeous story, marrying processing infertility and video games. Maybe it just hit close to home.
Sometimes I think the books we need to read work their way into our hands in random ways. And sitting there, in a carpool line, reading about the Fergusons and thinking about figurative cathedrals, it was the ghost I needed to have come visit.
How do you feel when you encounter infertility in a book, movie, or song?