If you've gone through infertility, you know how much it sucks. But it also sucks for the other person in the trenches with us, our partner. There's just not a lot of support out there for the dudes. We have tons of books and a bunch of websites ... guys have nothing, unless you go to a Resolve meeting, and even then it tends to be the women who really open up while the husbands stroke their arm in a supportive fashion.
Greg Wolfe experienced that while he and his wife Julie were going through four IVF cycles, which eventually resulted in their son, Connor. He asked his wife where his book was "and she looked at me like I'd asked for a platypus egg omelet," he says. So he decided, with her encouragement, to write the book himself. The result, How to Make Love to a Plastic Cup, was published earlier this month by Harper Collins. He took some time out to talk with us about the book, which is even more awesome than the title implies.
Not only is it hilarious and an easy, fun read, it's a really comprehensive look at the various types of fertility treatment and all the various things that go into them. There's even a chapter on "the room"; that dreaded spot where the guy has to, um, "make love" to the plastic cup in order to produce a semen sample that is pretty essential to the whole process. His most salient tip? BYO porn.
That humorous approach was both his natural style (he worked with the Groundlings comedy troupe before becoming a high school English teacher) and a survival skill during the years they were going through treatment.
"During infertility, it's really emotional. Nobody gets it on the first try; there's a lot of depressed feelings there," Greg says. "Having a sense of humor about it makes a huge difference in being able to deal with it."
Also, he knew guys weren't going to pick up the watercolor-illustrated, flowery books aimed at women, nor were they logging on to the websites with their endless cutesy abbreviations and "baby dust."
One thing I loved about it was that it gets into the ugly side of infertility: money worries, marriage stresses, and the general sense of failure at not being able to make a baby with the person you love.
"You see all your friends having babies and wonder 'who is my kid even going to be able to play with?' The sense of that window closing adds yet another layer of crap to the rest of it," he says.
His hope is simply that guys find the book and know they're not alone. Men are not exactly known for their ability to offer emotional support to one another, while women can and do form deep and intimate bonds with perfect strangers in a matter of minutes.
"Chances are we're not going to find each other any other way," he says. "There are small pockets of us out there, and just knowing other people are going through same thing and be able to commiserate even through a book, can help."
I loved this book. It's really funny in a smartass kind of way, it's accurate about what treatment entails and realistic about the suck. Not being a guy, though, I had my husband read it. His review can be summed up thusly: "This is awesome, and I wish it had been around when we were going through it."
If you're reading this, you're probably the female half of an infertile couple, and I'd recommend you buy this for your partner. But read it yourself first; it gives some valuable insight about what they might be going through even if they can't articulate it themselves.
Have you dealt or are dealing with infertility? How has it affected your partner?