Two-Week Wait: An IVF Story
Author: Luke C. Jackson and Kelly Jackson, artist Mara Wild
Publish Date: May 2021
Catalog ID: ISBN: 978-1-950354-63-4 (US Edition)
Where to buy: https://bookshop.org/lists/recently-reviewed-on-graphicmedicine-org
Author website: http://www.lukecjackson.com/
Review by Alice Jaggers
Two-Week Wait: An IVF Story is a fictional story of Conrad and Joanne who find themselves on an in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey. Two-week wait is significant because there is a two-week wait between conception and being able to see if implantation occurred. It is the earliest a person can test with a home pregnancy kit. For IVF patients, there is a two-week wait after a specialist places a viable embryo (or embryos) into the patient’s uterus before a blood test is drawn to see if they are pregnant. This time is full of anxiety and hope, especially if you are having difficulty conceiving. I appreciated the candid way Luke and Kelly Jackson and Mara Wild present the story, diving into the emotional and physical issues around the IVF venture. The mental health aspects were especially well portrayed. Conrad goes through an intense emotional venture around his potential infertility, masturbation, and the IVF process. He is afraid of how others will perceive him. Anyone looking for the thoughts of someone who has gone through the journey of trying to conceive, infertility testing, of deciding what treatments to pursue, of determining to continue the path, and IVF or is looking for tips on what to do and not to do when talking about infertility and IVF will find a good resource in this book.
I read this story through a particular lens as someone who went through a similar experience. As I write this, my 5-month-old baby, conceived using IVF, is playing next to me. The story highlights how there are universal parts of the journey, but also unique experiences. I found myself talking to my partner about happenings we had that were similar to Two-Week Wait. Joanne is drawn hunched over, dismayed, because her period has come once again (p8). This depiction of Joanne hunched over is evocative and gives the reader a sense of her grief in this moment. This is one example of the expressive poses of the characters throughout the book. Mara Wild does a fantastic job at providing context to the story and illustrating the invisible emotions and pain. I remember similar grief and disappointment month after month.
I also noticed parts where my experiences differed. Conrad and Joanne attend couples counseling about the IVF experience that my spouse and I did not go through together (p32). We received counseling separately. Additionally, Conrad and Joanne had a different ordeal with the painful hormone shots (p36). I’m so glad that my spouse was able to give me the shots with minimal bruising and pain. Although it was difficult for him to hurt me, he understood he was still doing me a big favor.
Despite only three colors used, the coloring is effective in conveying emotions and indicating context. Generally blue and orange predominate with a splash of red for emphasis. The red often comes up in moments of intense emotion. Wild plays with panel size and shape to great effect. My favorite use of this is on page 29 where the middle panel of the top row is the desk in between Conrad and Joanne and the doctor delivering news. The doctor and the couple are situated sideways, which is how the couple’s lives feel at that moment. I love the contrast of Conrad and Joanne’s experiences going in for the IVF treatments (p40). It highlights the different situations for someone with ovaries and for someone with sperm. The art on page 47 is excellent, explaining the complex process in an easy-to-understand way. I wish I had had this to show to people during my IVF process, because this is something I had to explain over and over again. One criticism I have of the book is on pages 38-39. Here the reader sees wordless panels depicting the contrasting struggles of Conrad and Joanne. Joanne has regular exams and daily shots on top of her teaching. Conrad works at his job, is seen looking at a child, possibly feeling removed from what is going on with Joanne, and receiving past due notices in the mail. The actions on these pages must go on over a period of weeks, because that’s how long it takes to ready the ovaries for egg removal, which you can see on page 41. However, there is not an indication to the reader that this is occurring over time. The only hint is that there is more than one bandage in the panel where she is giving herself an injection. I only understood the period of time these two panels depict because I had undergone IVF myself and knew how long it took. Overall, the art and way the pages are put together is fantastic.
I recommend Two-Week Wait: An IVF Story. It is especially powerful as a way to provide insight into what it can feel like to undergo IVF treatment. It gives the reader an empathetic look at the experience. I recommend this to anyone wanting to know more about the infertility and IVF process, especially from a mental health perspective. People who might get the most out of the book are people undergoing IVF or might be soon, friends and family of people undergoing IVF, and healthcare providers who work in obstetrics.
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