desperation and aspiration
Rahnia, whose story opens this book, casts herself as a “runner,” a woman
moving frenetically from country to country in a tortuous quest for con-
ception. Rahnia hoped that her journey would serve as a cautionary tale
for other would-be reproductive travelers. She also hoped that her story
would shed light on the intense longing and despair of infertile women,
who experience an “invisible disability” in a fertile world that neither ap-
preciates nor understands their suﬀering.
Indeed, for many women—and men— around the world, infertility is
a dire social burden. Infertility assaults an adult’s personhood and gender
identity. It can lead to marital duress, divorce, and abandonment. In many
socie ties, infertility causes intense social stigma and community ostracism.
The experience of infertility inspires those who can to undertake repro-
ductive travel as a solution to their suﬀering and to satisfy their intense
longings for children. Such desire for children underlies every reproduc-
tive quest. Rahnia and many others who travel for in vitro fertilization
(ivf) describe their emotional desires for a child as “desperate”—an aﬀec-
tive driver of reproductive mobility that cannot be underestimated.
Thus, reproductive travelers are often under considerable pressure in
their attempts to conceive. Some of these pressures are economic, while
others are logistical. Women may feel pressured because of their advanc-
ing ages and a “ticking” biological clock, while men may feel pressured to
i ntrodu C tion
sojourn: 1. n. A temporary stay at a place.
2. v. Stay temporarily; reside for a time.
— Oxford En glish Dictionary