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'What IF': Seattle author's encouraging, informative and funny take on infertility


“I’m infertile, how are you?” Seattle mom Barrie Arliss greets the readers of her true story What IF: An Infertile Graphic Novel with a line that invites honesty, solidarity and a bit of humor into what can be a depressing topic.

One in eight couples are currently dealing with infertility. If you haven’t personally struggled with infertility, someone you know has. Despite the more open conversations happening about infertility, those of us experiencing it firsthand often feel like there’s no one else who understands what we’re going through.

“Because when you’re in the stirrups for the third time in a week before the rest of your co-workers wake up and you’re just hoping for good news that day, you feel terribly alone,” says Arliss. She hopes her book will change that.

Arliss partnered with Seattle artist Dan Louis Lane to illustrate her personal infertility journey in a way that’s altogether encouraging, informative and funny. The graphic novel takes readers through the ups and downs of fertility treatments, from awkward moments in the exam room to conversations with well-meaning friends who always say the wrong things, and so much more.

While no two people have the same infertility journey, Arliss explains many of the stops along the way: She talks about trying weird naturopathic tinctures that “taste like death and diarrhea”; she describes the shots that caused face-melting fevers; she lays out her battle over coverage with the “motherf---ing insurance company.” Now a mother to one son via intrauterine insemination, Arliss talks about the miraculous joy when fertility treatments work and the crushing trauma when they don’t.

Whether you find yourself in the stirrups for the first time, celebrating or grieving the end of your infertility journey, or wondering how to support a friend through the process, read What IF for the encouragement, comic relief, and the handholding you’ll need.

What IF is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Arliss is hoping for a grant to make her novel available to libraries, Planned Parenthood and Seattle fertility clinics at no cost.


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