Review: ‘What If?’ Shows One Woman’s Struggles With Infertility

by James Ferguson

The miracle of life is just that when you think about it. It’s not like you can just wish really hard and a stork swings by with an infant. Sometimes it takes a lot of work and heartbreak before you can get there. What If? tells one woman’s story of the lengths she went through to become a parent, going through a variety of infertility treatments and procedures, wrestling with insurance companies, and figuring everything out along the way.
In some ways What If? reads like a helpful guide to infertility, IUIs, IVFs, and more. I definitely learned a few acronyms while going through this book. Writer Barrie Arliss pulls from her own life story to put a human face on all of these concepts. She personalizes her journey, adding a bit of humor to the experience.

While we’re invested in Barrie’s story, What If? does come across more like a manual at times. It’s helpful though as it’s something you can give to anyone struggling to get pregnant to humanize the whole thing. I’m sure this is something that can make you feel isolated or alone, like no one else has ever gone through this, but that’s definitely not the case. This comic gives you a first hand account of the trials and tribulations that come with this.
This is also useful for those around the person trying to get pregnant. The part about language was especially eye-opening because there are things people say that just seem like second nature, yet they can be really hurtful for someone in this position. Barrie breaks this down with a great analogy that speaks volumes.
Artist Dan Louis Lane adds to the humor of What If? with some great imagery. Barrie in particular is very expressive at the best times, adding to the comedic moments. There’s no way you can avoid making a weird face when your feet are up in stirrups. There are just the right amount of exaggerations in here too, like when Barrie has a hard conversation with her mother and her heart literally explodes out of her chest.
The panel layouts for What If? are varied and intricate. This adds a lot to the reading experience as every page is different. It also really helps tell the story as the layout often shifts to coincide with a given topic.
What If? tackles a serious topic in a light way without losing the gravity of the situation. It’s powerful, yet warm, fun, yet serious. At times it can feel more like a guide or a manual, but it would be incredibly valuable to those dealing with infertility.
What If? is available online at Amazon.

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