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What I Thought I Knew

What I Thought I Knew

3.8 32
by Alice Eve Cohen

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A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancé that she's never been happier. And then


A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancé that she's never been happier. And then the stomach pains begin.

In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb - six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate. With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today's society. Timely and compelling, What I Thought I Knew will capture readers of memoirs such as Eat, Pray, Love; The Glass Castle; and A Three Dog Life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this chronicle of a late-in-life pregnancy, New York City playwright and theater artist Cohen recalls an unlikely chain of events that, at age 44, transformed her life: "Three weeks ago I found out I was pregnant. Two weeks ago, I contemplated and rejected a late-term abortion. One week ago I was put on bed rest. I accepted my role as a miniature hospital, protecting a fragile life by lying on my left side and drinking Gatorade." Already the mother of an adopted daughter, Cohen's first experience with pregnancy is a minefield of physical and financial dangers: "A woman with no prenatal care for twenty-six weeks is a lousy insurance risk... To an obstetrician, she represents an expensive malpractice liability." Cohen questions herself-health, commitment and emotional readiness-and others while sorting through a growing mountain of advice, ultimately wondering whether one can ever be fully prepared to bring a baby into the world. Compelling, humanizing, and deeply honest, Cohen's narrative will get readers rooting for her growing family.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A blackly humorous, deeply personal story from a playwright and solo theater artist. In 1999, Cohen (Writing and Theatre/The New School) was a 44-year-old divorcee raising an adopted daughter and dating a 34-year-old fellow performer. Her gynecological history was bleak-a DES daughter with an abnormal uterus, she had been told she was infertile and believed herself to be on the brink of menopause. When a hard lump appeared in her abdomen, she feared it was cancer. After some absurd misdiagnoses, however, she learned that she was six-months pregnant. In three "Acts," Cohen reveals her reactions to this news and the ensuing complications of a high-risk pregnancy, possibly damaged fetus and lack of adequate medical insurance. "Unbridled Good Fortune" ends with the author considering an abortion. "What I Know" chronicles the three anguished and often indecisive months that culminated with the birth of her baby. In "An Unexpected Life," Cohen discusses three therapy-filled years and, finally, a malpractice suit against the doctors who misdiagnosed her. Periodically, the author inserts lists titled "What I Know," the items of which change as she learns new "facts" and as her thoughts and feelings about the situation change. At times her humor is harsh, particularly in her caricatures of her endocrinologist and of certain students in her storytelling class. The questions that Cohen deals with-whether or not to abort, to place her baby up for adoption or to sue for malpractice-are serious, even controversial, and her frankness in dealing with them can be disconcerting. A memoir of a life in crisis that may challenge female readers to face some of their darkest fears. Author events in New YorkCity

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Alice Eve Cohen is a playwright, solo theater artist, and memoirist. She has written for Nickelodeon and PBS and received fellowships and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at The New School in New York City.

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What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
E_M_13423 More than 1 year ago
Finally at a forgiving age of 44, life is good, a divorce behind her and ready to be married to a wonderful guy. Alice’s adopted daughter is thriving quite well, and her career is satisfying. A large lump in her stomach is giving her concern, fearing cancer, she visits her GYN and low and behold….she is pregnant. What?! She wasn’t supposed to be able to be pregnant, thought to be impossible, infertile, they said….and so starts this story.
Crazy-for-Books More than 1 year ago
My Synopsis: <p> In this startlingly candid memoir, Alice Even Cohen shares her personal journey as a 44 year old "infertile" pregnant woman. From the medical professionals who couldn't figure out what was wrong with her (she was SIX MONTHS into her pregnancy before it was finally discovered that she was pregnant!), to her emotional struggle of whether or not she wanted to have the baby, Ms. Cohen's memoir is deeply touching and fast-paced. <p> My Thoughts: <p> I loved this memoir. I am completely shocked and downright appalled at the medical professionals who failed Ms. Cohen. To read her journey and all the doctors she saw and the tests she went through and no one figured out she was pregnant - it's absolutely unbelievable to me! The circumstances she had to endure and the conversations she had to have during her "medical mystery" and after her diagnosis will make you cringe and cry. <p> I can relate to Alice in many ways, being an infertile woman myself. I can't imagine being set in your life and accepting of your situation, in your mid forties and BAM, suddenly you are pregnant. What a shocking situation it must have been for her! I don't want to examine her thoughts and feelings about the situation because none of us know how we will react when faced with the same circumstances. All I will say is that Ms. Cohen is a brave woman who fought through a very difficult time the best way she knew how and I commend her for that. <p> This memoir is very well-written and short at less than 200 pages so I blew through it in two sittings. Ms. Cohen has a way of capturing the reader's attention at every turn of the page until you know the outcome of her story. I couldn't put the book down.
VickiLN More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book not sure if I’d like it or not. I didn’t know if the author wrote it in a way I would enjoy, because of the sensitive subject. And for the first few pages I still wasn’t sure. But before long, I was hooked. I didn’t want to put it down and read it in two sittings. I would have read it in one if I hadn’t had to stop and do things that had to be done. The writing is terrific, as is the story. And it’s a true story. One that I can’t imagine going through. It is at times happy, and others very deeply sad. It’s full of confusion, worries and very hard decisions. And a lot of happiness and love. The author is very funny at times too. Alice Eve Cohen holds nothing back in this book. She shares her thoughts and feelings through this time with an openness that surprised and touched me. I felt like I was listening to a friend talk. I’ve seen a few negative reviews, saying that the author was self centered and only thinking about herself. I didn’t get that from the book at all. She was devastated that she didn’t know she was pregnant for the first 6 months and so she had been drinking etc. Because of that, her baby was subjected to things that weren’t at all good for him/her, and didn’t get the care needed, like vitamins. She also was told the baby would more than likely have a few devastating health disabilities, due to her age and her own medical conditions. That was the reason she had the thoughts she did. But, she still did whatever the doctors told her to do for the safety of her unborn child. This book was so good. Really really good. The best memoir I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read this book, go get a copy. It’s a quick read that is packed with a very emotional story.
macjam47 More than 1 year ago
Alice Eve Cohen’s memoir is honest, deeply moving, and at times humorous.  At age 44, Alice is happy with the way her life is going. Divorced, she has found Mr. Right and is headed down the path to marriage. Her adopted daughter is thriving, and her career as a storyteller and performer is flourishing.  What more could she want? She was settled into the life she wanted when suddenly she started experiencing mysterious symptoms.  After a visit to her gynecologist, the doctor told her she was going through menopause. She had a hard belly and eventually after x-rays and months of other tests, she had a CAT scan. Her diagnosis was a shock. She was six months pregnant, was a DES daughter who would undoubtedly deliver her baby early, and she had no prenatal care up to now.  She had been on medications and there was a possibility the baby would be born with problems.   How could she be pregnant?  All these months the doctors had been telling her she was depressed, menopausal, anemic, preoccupied with the possibility of having cancer, and she was supposedly infertile.  She was high risk and no doctor wanted to take her on as a patient because of the six months she had no prenatal care.   Alice considers all of her options, openly and honestly.  She is genuine and straightforward and doesn't hesitate to describe exactly how difficult it was for her to make the decision she did concerning her baby. It is hard to talk about her story without giving too much away so I will leave it here.  It is a book you won’t want to put down.  I recommend this as a five-star book.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Which means you only get to sample the table of contents...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read hundreds of memoirs and I undertand that what makes for a good read is an author who bares their soul but she took it too far. There are somethings that are better left unsaid. A good portion of this book revolves around her contemplating whether or not to end her pregnancy. Her husband had to basically coerce her into not doing so. By putting these thoughts down on paper it was probably cathartic for her but it was potentially at the expense of her childs future mental health. I cant imagine what her daughter is going to go through when she is old enough to read and undertand this book.
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I read this book almost in one sitting. Her style of writing is so fluid and easy to read, transporting you directly into her head. This book was so real, she doesn't hold back on any emotions from her readers. It was really refreshing.
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Hriess More than 1 year ago
I revelled in the unbridled frankness and authenticity of the roller coaster emotions revealed in this memoir. Alice Eve Cohen is a gifted story teller who keeps us on the edge of our seats with her indomitable wit and heartwarming humor. I recommend this book for everyone who ever wanted to be or did not want to be...pregnant.... and for their partners
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, couldn't put it down. Read the whole thing in 3 days time. Look forward to reading more books written by this author.
Magiggle More than 1 year ago
Des was a drug that was supposed to stop miscarriages and other things. It causes numerous health issues and deformaties. Be prepared to be shocked at what the pharmaceutical companies didnot tell the mothers that took this drug about the side effects that they knew of.It is like the Thalidomide scare but not alwways as visible and alot of us were considered just crazy because no one really wanted to believe something was wrong when some of us have no specific diagnosis.It is a chiller to live with and read about.