Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein

A writer and journalist who never wanted kids finds herself spiraling into obsession when she begins to try to conceive.

Peggy Orenstein paints herself in such a bad light in Waiting for Daisy that it’s next to impossible to sympathize with her predicament. And that’s too bad, because three miscarriages are a lot to suffer through. However, Orenstein paints her desire for a child not as a powerful emotional urge but as an accomplishment she can’t live without. She never once talks about wanting to be a mother, or even wanting to have a baby. She is singularly focused on getting pregnant and staying that way for as long as possible.

Near the end of the book, there’s a truly bizarre incident that actually broke my heart a little bit. Orenstein’s husband is Japanese, and during one trip to Japan, Orenstein put her name on a list for a Japanese baby. She gets a call that there is a baby who needs parents, and she never calls back. However, when her husband learns that she hid this from him, he goes ballistic. So they get back on the waiting list and eventually another baby comes up. They travel all the way to Japan and spend the weekend with the little guy, like they’re test-driving him, and then decide not to go through with it because the paperwork will take too long and besides she’s pregnant again anyway. Her writing about this incident is so vague and unfocused and emotionally detached that I got really creeped out. Shopping for babies.

I don’t like to criticize a book like this, one that is so personal, and came from such a dark and difficult experience. But I don’t think Orenstein did her own story justice. I am glad that she had a child in the end, and I hope that she is enjoying every minute of it.

8 thoughts on “Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein”

  1. …I’m kind of creeped out just reading the review.

    I hate pointing out the flaws in people’s memoirs, or true stories of tragedy. At the same time, if you can’t be bothered to do a good job of it, hire someone else or just leave it alone.

  2. I completely agree with you. I read it today, and I found the whole thing more than a little chilling. It was like the baby was some weird proof of her personhood, and without that she would have no identity. Not very nice.

  3. Thanks for your review. Finally a voice of reason.
    I really struggled with this book. I found myself focusing on/feeling angry about her turning her back on what already was in her life: a stray cat, a non-biological child, non-perfect dogs, etc. The memoir did not make me feel sympathetic to her — and I certainly could not relate to her quest to be a “parent.”

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