A book is only words. There are so many emotions that cannot be described with words, says Myriam Steinberg, author of Catalogue Baby, a graphic novel, that tells the story of an indomitable young woman’s ordeal to get pregnant.
“One would need too many words to really explain the range of thoughts and feelings going through one’s mind!” says Steinberg.
Steinberg is among the featured authors at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Vancouver Festival which opens on Feb. 20.
An honest approach
Despite the emotional and physical scars endured, Steinberg wants others who struggle with infertility and are trying to conceive to remain hopeful and to persevere.
“With images, you are confronted with emotions at a much deeper level,” she says. “You can really play with imagery to convey what it’s really going on.”
Catalogue Baby has become a resource for all women and couples facing such challenges; and a reference for the medical professionals and fertility clinics to share with their patients.
The experiences described in the book will be just another way to break down the barriers and the taboos, says Steinberg. She wants to make the patient feel less lonely and strange.
The graphic format of the book makes for a very easy read. The images not only give an overview of the story but also an immediate visual sense of what is happening. The illustrations convey joy, hope, heartbreak, laughter; and with their bitter-sweet, humorous realism they spell out life itself.
Steinberg’s five year struggles to bring a baby into the world fortunately had a happy ending, as she is now the proud mom of beautiful twins: a boy, Isaac, and a girl, Abegail.
Why a graphic novel?
Steinberg chose a graphic novel format as her first creative endeavor because the fertility journey has highs and lows.
“Yes, there are the miscarriages and losses, but there are also the hilarious things that are going on, so many funny things, as well as the devastating heartbreaks,” she says. “At first, I thought the book should be like a play, or a one-person show. But when you combine the two, the images support the words, and there is interplay that is really powerful; and the humorous moments make the ordeal more bearable, like life itself.”
The title, Catalogue Baby, comes from the sperm donors catalogue at the sperm bank, where the author chose the donor through photos, descriptions, medical history, and even essays as to why they donated.
The choice was difficult and resulted in many spreadsheets to eventually settle on the right person’s sperm.
“I wanted to have a baby in my thirties, and I never wanted to be a single mom.” remembers Steinberg. “I was always hoping to meet a guy I could have children with, then seven years ago, the man I had been dating wasn’t ready to have children, so we broke up. And I decided to have a baby on my own. The trying part turned out to be more difficult than I had ever imagined. ”
However, after multiple failed IUI and IVF, several miscarriages, the donor eggs implant was successful, and Steinberg is already planning a sequel to Catalogue Baby.
Steinberg will talk about the difficulties of her pregnancy with the twins, and her determination not to terminate one of the twin’s gestations despite the odds. The birth of two healthy babies not only proved her right, but the journey was well worth it.
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