Monday 19 May 2008

A Bonnie Tyler & Bono toasted infertility sandwich

"Where have all the good men gone?" sang Bonnie.

I dunno love, but I strolled into the Hague yesterday to try and find out. Well, I didn't stroll, I took the train, strolling to the Hague would have had me found dead from exhaustion about half way, but that's not important. Well, my death would be important of course, to some at least, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I headed for the English bookshop. Ironically this is actually an American bookshop, but once again, that's also not important. Stop interrupting.

I wanted to pick up some books, obviously enough. I wanted to find something, anything, on 'trying to conceive', or infertility, or just starting a family, from a male point of view.

What a waste of oxygen and sitting on my arse time that adventure turned out to be.

It's a relatively small shop, with a limited selection of books in relation to conception, pregnancy, childbirth and childcare, but I imagine it is quite representative of what's available in the market.

Of all the books on show, there were TWO specifically aimed at men, BOTH were related to childcare and rearing, and BOTH were big, bold hardbacks with titles like 'Child Operation Manual' or some such other utter pigshit, with pictures of a frazzled daddy on the front, with a toddler under his arm and a beer bottle up his arse.

'Okay' I say, and onward I search. Into the deceptively named realm of the conception and infertility section. I say deceptively named, as there was sweet fanny adams on infertility.

So I dive deeper into the conception books which consisted of two groups.
One, understandably enough, was full of big pink and other pastel coloured books with fat bellies and smiley faces on the cover, full with references to mother earth, and egg white whatsits, and 7am thermometers up the bum.

The second type were manuals that were just as thick, twice as tall, and less comprehensible than myself. If Freud himself had problems getting his mother up the duff, he would struggle to understand these medical journals.

My conclusion is that us fellas either have to put up with these 'changing nappies for dummies' novelty type books, or bloody biological ledgers that you need 17 years training to be able to follow.

NEWSFLASH, we are not all either complete muppets, or experts.
Some of us, me at least, fall somewhere in between.

So why isn't there anything written for, or by normal men on the subjects of conception, trying to conceive, or infertility?

Does conception not affect us? The last time I checked, fellas made up roughly half of every heterosexual couple trying to conceive, and have a 'hand' in one or two homosexual couples trying to conceive.

Does trying to conceive not affect us? Fellas want children, they want families. They might not always say it, and they prefer to be seen to be dragged kicking and screaming into the abyss that is responsibility, but under that facade, they love the idea of being dads, the head of a household. We just know it.

Does infertility not affect us? Exclusively male factor infertility accounts for 30% of infertility cases in couples failing to conceive. With 30% attributed exclusively to the women, 30% to a combination of both, and with 10% unexplained, even someone who needs one of those 'dummy' books can figure out that men bear half the responsibility in cases of infertile couples.

Why in name of all that is holy does the increasingly popular male tendency to be 'idiot or expert' have to spill into this area? Infertility is often not easily overcome, but often, very often, there are simple steps that can be taken to reverse it, or avoid it in the first place, from the male point of view.

I'm all for playing stupid to ET when I don't want to have to make myself a toasted sandwich, but this is slightly more pressing than an afternoon snack.

Why isn't there something for, or someone supporting the normal fella, the one who struggles with medical journals but is rightly ashamed to have to resort to a 'fatherhood by numbers' novelty book?

As I stood in that shop yesterday, the CD playing was Ray Lamontagne, 'until the sky turns black'. Ironically, that is just one example of a guy tackling uncomfortable subjects (depression in this case) but using his skills to work it out, and there are literally thousands of songwriters doing the same.

If so many musicians can do it, why can't writers?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I'm all that weird, not to the point where I'm completely off the mark with this. Fellas DO want to know about these subjects, how they affect them, what they can do about it and what to expect, but there's nothing out there for them. Even in the wild expanses of the internet, where lack of anonymity is no longer an excuse to shy away from these topics, resources for men on this are few and far between.

I should know, I've been searching long and hard enough.

Even though the runt gets on my nerves, there's something about short arsed Irishmen that don't know when to shut up, that just appeals to me and makes me want to quote Bono.

'I still haven't found what I'm looking for'


Jenni said...

You're not off the mark at all. My husband felt exactly the same way. When I became pregnant, friends and family members gave him these books with titles like "Pregnancy Sucks, FOR MEN" and "She's Having a Baby and You're Having a Nervous Breakdown." It really annoyed him - he said all the books for men were written as though men were idiots and they only thing they cared about as far as conception/pregnancy was how much sex they did or did not get to have. He thought they treated it like a joke, when but the hubs took it very seriously.

Maybe you should write a book...

Tara R. said...

I'm thinking the same as Jenni... could be a new career as a published author in the offing for ya! We can say we knew you when. :D

Unknown said...

My mind is frazzled at the moment, but when we adopted, I would swear that many of the books that were given to me were pretty good.

I'll look them up when I get home and forward the list to you. You know, unless they suck.

BTW: Seconding Jenni's recommendation that you write the damn book.

Momo Fali said...

Clearly you need to write a I'm the 3rd out of four comments to suggest it.

Momo Fali said...

Okay, 4th out of four. I am a woman. I am an idiot.

Katie said...

I'm coming out of hiding to comment that all the above commentors have it right... you should totally write a book.

As one who reads your blog regularly but rarely ventures out to comment, I think much of your blog could be put into your book... witty, informative, fun to read... you've got it all, my friend.

Publish away...

Putz said...

nappy, nappy, nappy, someone out there wants to keep us in the dark is a conspiracy...but the truth is out there, somewhere... to keep us in the dark is understandable,, men are idiots, women are the ones who will do the nurturing in the end, unless you will be a stay at home dad....we, don't write a book, i would read it, but am 66 and don't need it anymore...just keep blogging and remember we all care...

Anonymous said...

You're already writing it. You're just not getting paid for it!

Kori said...

Well, since there are only 30% of the male population who are trying to conceive, and the other 70% are busy saying, "WTF?" I would say that it hasn't been published because there is not really a market; we are talking publishing=big business, right? So since maybe 10% of the original 30% are actively involved as opposed to just getting it up, that makes like three people who will read it? But you should write it just so there IS one. In defense of we women, I will say that the pregnancy books I have read all made me feel the same way-like I was stupid and ignorant and being condescneded to. The only book I read about pregnancy and childbirth that really helped me at all was one where the mom writes and talks like me, meaning she talks about how there are a lot of really crappy, icky, painful days and sometimes the good ones make up for it. So write a book about it, sure, if it will help ONE person, it will be a good one.

Russ said...

It sounds like Erika is right. It's ok, I'm a cheap bastard and like reading things for free.

Nearly all the books that I had were just on this side of useless. We had one (it found a new home, with yet to be born children) that was almost decent. The book didn't say anything revolutionary, but it didn't talk down to you either. I issue with it is that it only stayed with the stereotypical male side of things (as a sahd, I'm anything but a stereotype), i.e. she'll be really horny the second trimester, and all sorts of financial aspects of having a child (I'm an accountant by training, I can handle my finances, but not everyone thinks about the money side of things).

That said, there is a book or two in existence that just doesn't utterly suck.

Bettina said...

I think there are probably no books as the perception of society at large is that pregnancy is the 'womens' domain as it is physically happening to her and in our self centred society other people that may be impacted are rarely considered. Fair? no.

meh. I'm just going to join the bandwagon - maybe you should write one yourself.

Jason Roth said...

I think after all is said and done and you finally have a child, you'll be the expert writing the proper book for the fellas.

Lyssa said...

You've already written the before-pregnancy book. Just package it up and send it to a publisher already. Soon enough you'll have the material for men surviving pregnancy... and onward and upward. I can totally see your writing on bookshelves all over the world!

MarĂ­a said...

Dude, you're going to be contacted by a publisher sooner than you think. You have one of the best and most original blogs on the internet. Dooce who? Diablo who?

Anonymous said...

Myabe it was just the bookshop you were in?

That said, I haven't looked for books relating to fathers and infertility for men before, so what would I know.

I will have a look down here next time I am in the bookshop and see if I can find anything promising.

And I agree that you should write the book. But that doesn't help you right now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of the above. Not only should you write a book, but it should be written for prospective dads specifically. No one can give them a better understanding then someone who has gone through it and the frustration of the process. And when that nappyrash shows up, you can write a father's perspective of what it's like to deal with black sliky shit, and puking at 3 am.
I would buy it. :)

Mr Lady said...

Write. It.

Anonymous said...

According to all forms of media surrounding parenthood, conception, and sex, men are just bumbling idiots. We are highly under appreciated and under respected. We should start a group or a blog...

Anonymous said...

See, do you remember a while back when I said 'bad things happen for a reason?' Well here it is.

You will now go on and write a best seller, which will take your mind off spencer long enough for him to be sneaky and 'sneak' where he should be really but he thinks he's being cool by not going there. (Huh?). You will get pregnant AND become millionaires.


Anonymous said...

My hubby thought the same way when I was pregnant (my 4th, his 1st) He couldn't find a book that was geared towards men, that didn't treat them like they were stupid. He ended up with my copy of "What to Expect When Your Expecting." And he'll kill me if he ever finds out I told anyone, let alone the internets.

Found you through the Dad Gone Mad Links!

Anonymous said...

So, it's up to you, of course to write something that is down to earth and accurate for today's male ( who is having some trouble with fertility). It will be a best seller!

Martin said...

@Jenni - Absolutely, it's not like these books don't have a place, they do. They are nice introductory items for people perhaps.
But some people want something substantial, something useful, without needing a phd to decipher information.

@Tara R - relax, deep breaths...

@Kyhle - I'd be interested in anything to be honest, may not use it, but it's nice to have the option.

@Momo Fali - That tag line is copyrighted...

@Katie - Thanks very much for popping your head up to comment, I thought I'd have to smoke you out ;0) Nice of you to say that, although I seriously would doubt by advisory abilities!

@Putz - I think you are a prime example of what I'm talking about actually, you sure could have done with some information 35 years ago.
Conspiracy huh? interesting...You are a gentelman sir.

@Erika - I don't think I'd find this blog any help if I were looking for it, I'd read it, but it wouldn't help squat lol.

@Kori - I take your point the real audience is relatively small, but I don't believe for a second it's as small as the market presence would suggest.
There MUST be stuff out there.

@Russ - In our early days of this carry on I read some guide or other for men, it was mildly informative, but the jokes and stereotypes portrayed made me feel like I was watching a sitcom.

@Bettina - You'd be correct as to the perception. My argument though is that the perception is inaccurate. Certainly today.

@Roth Family Adventures - It will be too bloody late then, I want to read one now!

@Lyssa - Kind words, drug induced I'm certain, but kind.

@Immoral Matriarch - It's comments like that that make me wanna quit my job and stay home all day, ET will SO kick your ass.

@Veronica - A small shop for sure, but pretty representative I'd imagine. Exactly, I'm looking for someone else's opinions, not my own twisted ones!

@JT - Just paypal me a tenner now and we'll cal it quits yeah? I just can't believe how sparse the material out there is.

@Mr Lady - yes M'am.

@Wpat - I hear drums beating.... we are man, hear us whimper... but yes, idiots or experts. That's the protrayal, nothing exists in between.

@Tismee2 - You've had a lot of coffee this morning haven't you...

@Jenn - Thanks jenn for 'dropping by'. He's no reason to be ashamed, there was simply nothing there for him. Leave shame at the gate arond here !

@Tiff - I don't think I'm quite the pioneer, I can provide sarcasm by the bucketload, but useful advice, I doubt.

Anonymous said...

Write the bloody book yourself...gah..

Anonymous said...

No seriously, you COULD do it. hell if Dawn at 'Beacuse I said so' can go on TV all over america and that I'm sure you can too.

C'mon man, don't be a pussy - like they say "stop bitchin and get on with it"

Why you already have a thousand signed copies sold from us lot!

Karen MEG said...

I see a huge unmet market just waiting for you to write this book. You're absolutely right, and for years, actually, there weren't the greatest books on infertility at all, really.

The "experts" and writers have assumed, and wrongly so, that it's only the women who want to know, to do something about it.

You would prove them all wrong.

Newbie said...

You know things are looking desperate when you're resorting to quoting Bono...

This may or may not be helpful, but the Ben Elton book "Inconceivable" is nowhere near as dreadful as the film version, though it's more about the trials and tribs of IVF. The main guy in it is based on Mr Elton himself though and as such comes across as a bit of a twat.

Anonymous said...

hmmm... Maybe you guys should rethink using the stupid card just to get us to do all the work? We treat you like dumbasses because you want us to think you're dumbasses when it benefits you!

I think you would be the perfect candidate for writing it all down and publishing it. Honestly. You're still early enough in to start at the beginning and be able to touch every single base along the way. Obviously there's a market for it! The fact that you've been unsuccessful in finding anything just lets you know there is certainly a demand not being met.

Why not? You need something to do inbetween Spencer's performances!

By the way, when I was young, I had such a girl crush on Bonnie Tyler's raspy voice!

justmylife said...

This blog is from a men's point of view, it may not be the instructions on how to get pregnant, but it goes a long way to say what a man goes through trying to have a child. A book along these lines would be of help to many men who are right where you are. Don't sell yourself short, I have read the comments, you have helped not only men but their wives too.

Martin said...

@Frog ponds rock - don't go squirting the puppies at me lady...

@tismee2 - I admire your belief but I'm the one looking for the information, and not in a position to dish it out.

@Karen MEG - there is a sizable market, but I'm IN it...!

@Newbie - I've read it in February, mildly entertaining. I'm only a passing fan of Ben Elton though, he is a bit of a knob. Didn't know it was a movie?

@Angel - I admit to using the stupid card, but I am totally against it for the most part.

Bonnie & Shakin' Stevens!

@justmylife - I'm sure some will find some solace in the fact there are others in similar position's but this is a million miles away from being a 'resource' of any sort. Which is why I'm looking!

Rachel said...

Quit yer yammerin' and write one yourself!! :-)
You're going through it now, you're writing it now. Write a proposal, send it out... :-)
I know tons read you online, imagine how many you could touch by mass producing ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'd very much agree that the perception is inaccurate, I'm pretty much thinking it's a rule that a lot of society's percceptions are inaccurate. Like the one that says that SAHM's aren't making a valuable contribution to society, I'm sure people can come up with a list as long as your arm.

I caught my hubby a few times with my pregnancy book but he felt really uncomfortable with it as if he was looking at something he shouldn't and it was just wrong for him to be made to feel like that by the book or by societal expectations.

Anonymous said...

A friend in a similar situation gave me A Few Good Eggs. It was the only book I read, and I didn't read all of it. I recommend you NOT read those books. Each case is different and you really need to listen to your specialist and otherwise not focus all your attention on the topic. Easier said than done, I know, but really. Read Breakfast at Tiffany's and fall in love with ET again. And forget reading about fertility.

Deb said...

IMO, fertility books are a giant pile of stewing dog poo anyway. Your blog is far more interesting than anything I read when I was on the conception train, so I'm inclined to agree with the other brilliant comments and say you've found your future career.

Dto3 said...

OK, the "a hand in it" comment made my night. During our struggles with male factor infertility, two nuns at the hospital walked in on my wife and me doing the hand jive with a Dixie cup. That'll spoil the mood.

Martin said...

@Rachel - you sound like you know what you're talking about!
I like the idea of touching many people ;0), mass production may be a problem, seeing as I can't manage to produce anything!

@Bettina - Exactly. Maybe I'm being idealist but there must be a way of getting this information for men. Without resorting to idiot manuals or forcing them to read books intended for the ladies.

@Nola - You might have something there. I don't know how much 'use' I would get from these books, but I just need to read up, background etc and just get super familiar with everything that's going on.
As for breakfast at tiffanys, I'm not so sure. Although I think if you could recommend something for ET to read to stop her wondring what a git I am I would be very grateful.

@Deb - very kind. not much use to me at this momrnt in time though ;0)

@Dto3 - That is absolutely brilliant. Would you think less of me if I said that might even HELP me with the delivery... Nuns...Mmmmmm

Jenni said...

so, i'm double commenting on this post, at Veronica's request, to send you baby dust and luck for next week.

and you absolutely get all the credit for "bugger."

Newbie said...

It's a horrifically bad movie with Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson. I really recommend you stay well clear as it may make you be sick in your mouth a bit...

Newbie said...

It's a horrifically bad movie with Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson. I really recommend you stay well clear as it may make you be sick in your mouth a bit...

You're right, Ben Elton is a knob.

Martin said...

@Jenni - Thanks for the well wishes, we shall have to see...
I KNEW that 'bugger' was mine.

@Newbie - I looked it up yesterday, 'Maybe Baby' the movie name, and it's didn't lok promising.
Sometimes names really suit people, and 'knob' and Ben Elton are a perfect match.
Having said that, I've read nearly all his books and felt cheated after everyone.
Very two dimensional.

Dondi Tiples said...

Jenni and Tara are right. We think YOU should write THE book. You've got enough experience to go through with it and all.

Send us an autographed copy, 'kay?