Fertility Book Review: Dare To Dream

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Dare To Dream
By Izzy Judd

2017 edition
Pages 269

What is the book about? An uplifting personal story

Dare to Dream is the personal story of Izzy Judd, her struggle to conceive with PCOS, her experience of IVF, her miscarriage and subsequent pregnancy (and I hope that by cantering through this description I am not exposing too many of the plot twists). The memoirs begin in childhood and travel through to almost present day. Unlike Louise Brown’s book My Life as the First Test Tube Baby (sorry Louise), Izzy’s descriptions of life events dwell on relevant and engaging aspects for a completely appropriate length of time to make it entertaining and informative.

In my view, this book is incredibly brave. Not only does Izzy talk publicly about her infertility, she also discusses her raging war against anxiety, which has been a companion in her life from a young age. Both infertility and mental health are topics that are rarely discussed openly, although the tide is thankfully changing due to books like these.

Fertility Book Review Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd

The Author - Wife of Harry Judd from McFly

The author is the wife of Harry Judd from the pop band McFly. Or is it Busted? Or both? Are they actually the same band with a quick clothes change to fool the audience, like in amateur dramatics? Not having my finger on the pulse of popular culture I didn’t know much about Harry from McBusted, which you may have suspected was the case after me referring to him as being in a ‘pop group’, a term my dad would use to describe anyone in music industry since the Rolling Stones.

How insulting to refer to Izzy simply as the wife of Harry Judd. A statement that would make feminism turn in its grave (oh no, wait, feminism isn’t dead yet). If someone’s main description of me was as ‘the wife of Joe Woodward’ I would not take kindly. A swift punch in the face and I’d soon be known as the aggressive wife of Joe Woodward.

So who is Izzy Judd? Izzy is successful in her own right. A professional violinist, a music teacher, an infertility and mental health advocate and the mother to two small children. Have I just ruined the ending of the book? Sorry if so. But the suspense of ‘will they, won’t they’ is removed if you follow Izzy on social media as her cute children frequently feature. Yep, I have now definitely spoilt the finale.

If you are deterred from reading the book, as I was (what a cow), due to the fact that it is written by someone in the public eye, don’t be. It is wonderfully written, engaging, entertaining and certain parts were like a mirror reflecting my thoughts and experiences of infertility, just much better articulated than my general ramblings.

Fertility Book Review Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd

Who is this book for? Taking a break from the scaremongering and life changes

If you are like me, you fill your infertile days reading studies, absorbing information on nutrition, studying books by fertility experts and other scientific, factual works that encourage the reader to a) panic and then b) spend an inordinate amount of time and money making significant lifestyle changes. Doing all of that is really important, but it is also exhausting. Dare To Dream is the perfect book to read during a holiday away from the science and scare mongering. It is like chatting to an old friend about their experience of infertility and IVF. It is comforting, positive and above all, gentle. The literary equivalent of a good cup of tea and a warm hug. Perfect for a break and ideal for those frequent moments when you are of feeling overwhelmed.

Dare to Dream does contain some advice, tips and inspiration as to positive actions that can be explored further by the reader, but it is not a book that is designed to give advice. It is an uplifting personal story, not a ‘how to’ on IVF or a detailed exploration of the perfect fertility diet. That is not what this book is designed to do and there are plenty of other books on the market that are if this is what the reader desires.

Did Izzy’s experience resonate with me?

So many of the books (Emma Cannon’s Fertile), Apps (Headspace), activities adopted (yoga and long contemplative walks in nature) and diets explored (gluten and dairy free) by Izzy were exactly those that I lent on during my years of infertility. It seems like we all try the same tricks, I suppose that’s unsurprising given that these are the things that actually work.

The author’s descriptions of her feelings throughout her struggles were like reading from my soul. The trepidation during IVF, the anxiety induced by pregnancy after so many years of struggling, the pressure to feel happy 100% of the time when a new mum (despite sleep deprivation being an effective CIA torture technique for a reason) and feeling guilty if not, and the perception that frozen embryos are little parts of you, potential life that cannot be simply left in the freezer or disposed of without breaking your heart. All this could have been written by me, if I had Izzy’s elegant vernacular. In terms of our fertility experiences I felt that we were one and the same person. When it comes to other aspects of life, my husband only sings in the shower and despite learning the violin, the only way for me to pass my long awaited Grade 3 is to flirt outrageously with the examiner and pray that they lost their hearing in a freak childhood accident.

Fertility Book Review Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd

What is different about this book?

Dare To Dream is mainly an infertility autobiography but the final few chapters of the book contain something a little different. One chapter is written by Izzy’s husband to provide the male view of the experience of infertility and IVF. It is always intriguing to hear two people’s thoughts on the same events and to understand how their experience and focus differs.

The end of the book also contains an ‘Ask Izzy’ section in which the author answers the most common questions that she has been asked by readers, followers and associates about infertility and IVF. This is a useful section for the reader, but also I imagine for reducing the email traffic to the author. One could view this as a challenge to think of the most obscure question possible for poor Izzy to tackle by email.

The inside covers, front and back, are adorned with affirmations that the reader can adopt in to their lives to make things just that little bit brighter. My personal favourites that I have taken on board are ‘She took a deep breath and let it go’ and ‘Trust the timing of your life’. Will affirmations alone fix your infertility? No, but they may make you feel better which can be half the battle.

How long did it take me to read?

It’s another quick one - just 5 days of reading at a relaxed pace. It is aesthetically pleasing (an expression my mother once used to describe a boyfriend of mine) in that the text is of a good size, well spaced and with thick pages bordering on cardboard. I love that in a book as it makes me feel like a speed reading goddess, flying through the pages. There is nothing worse (in terms of book text anyway, let’s not compare it to world poverty…) then opening a new read to find the words are printed in tiny font on tissue paper. So demoralising.

Conclusion

Unlike me, don’t be put off by the fact that it is a personal experience story, or written by someone in the public eye, or hardcover (they just don’t fit in my handbag - what is a girl to do). This book is definitely worth the read and for those with penchant for soft back books (AKA floppy copies) the paper back version is being released in December 2018. Dare To Dream would be the perfect ‘New Year, New You’ uplifting read and in my view this book is a 9 out of 10.