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Adrift: Fieldnotes from Almost-Motherhood

UK Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

‘The world is not neatly divided into two camps of women, those who wanted to reproduce and did, and those who didn’t want to, and didn’t. So many of us are caught here, in between, neither one thing nor the other, drifting towards a receding horizon, in our own camp…’

When Miranda Ward and her husband decided to have a baby, they were optimistic. There was no reason not to be: they were both young, they were both healthy. But five years, three miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy later, Ward finds herself still dealing with the ongoing aftermath of that decision: the waiting, the doubting, the despairing, the hoping.

Adrift is a memoir about the unique place of almost-motherhood. Some people pass through it without even noticing; others languish there, held safe, held prisoner, by the walls of not-knowing – for as long as there is still a question mark, an open ending, there is a chance of escape.

Inspired by her childhood on the California coast, Ward turns to the water, seeking solace in a landscape of a different kind – the swimming pool. Hoping to make sense of the uncertainty, she begins to ask questions of geography on the most intimate scale. How do we learn to feel at home in our own bodies, even when they disobey? How can we find our way, even when we feel adrift? What language do we have for the spaces in between? Charting a journey through territory at once deeply personal and widely shared, Ward offers a searing, lyrical and radically honest narrative of fertility and motherhood that is less often told.


‘Adrift is, quite simply, the best book on its subject I have ever read. Miranda’s thoughtful, sharp, insightful, funny, brave, honest and often painful writing on fertility has given form and life and language to something fundamental and universal. I wish I’d had it years ago. I’m so glad to have it now. The clever use of structure, the humour, the feather light touch of her narrative voice; it is the sort of book that makes you wish you were a better writer. I have no doubt it is going to help a lot of people and touch many more.’ – Nell Frizzell

‘It’s long past time we stopped tip-toeing around the subject of miscarriage and started to acknowledge the difficult space between pregnant and not and all the emotions that live there. (Contrary to common belief, you can in fact be a little bit pregnant). Miranda Ward gets the conversation started in this thoughtful, beautifully-written, devastating exploration of the will to reproduce and the wildness of the body. This is a vastly important and necessary book.’ – Lauren Elkin

‘I was both captivated by Miranda Ward’s story and impressed by her attention, perspective and understatement. Her experience of “almost motherhood” is told with truth and clarity in a way that will be a comfort to some and a revelation to others.’ – Amy Liptrot

Miranda Ward is a writer, editor and lecturer based in the UK. She has a PhD in cultural geography from...