I’m so pleased to be doing a blog swap today with Tess Kossow! Tess is the author of I’m Very Ferris, a fantastic children’s book about IVF. As we discussed what to write about, we decided to share more about what made us both want to write “unconventional” infertility books–her books, aimed at children, and my book, aimed at men. Here we go!
How did I react when my wife Olivia and I found out we’d need to do IVF to have a shot at growing our family? Research. Obsessive, all-consuming research.
I downloaded podcasts by the dozen, devouring patient stories on my daily work commute. I scoured blogs, comparing different accounts of IUI, IVF, surrogacy, and various infertility diagnoses. At one point, I needed to keep a separate internet browser window to accommodate the dozens of tabs I had open with different blog posts, articles, and links to podcast episodes.
While this research helped me feel better prepared to act in true partnership with Olivia throughout the fertility treatment process, I did find one thing missing in all those podcasts and posts: I almost never heard a male partner’s perspective. In fact, to this day five years later, I still specifically remember the handful of podcast episodes I found in which the male partner was featured or joined the conversation.
Now to be clear: I’m incredibly grateful for the wide array of infertility resources out there created by and for women. The support, community, and information they provide are invaluable–and helped me tremendously.
But as our own fertility journey unfolded, I found that opportunities to connect with other men going through the same thing were so helpful (even if they were rare). I learned of a few friends also going through fertility treatment, and the occasional texts or conversation with those guys helped me feel less alone.
Indeed, the idea that there could be more resources to support men through infertility probably rolled around in my head countless times through our journey.
Yet when I started to write some essays reflecting on and recording our path to parenthood, I didn’t intend for it to turn into a full book. I figured the writing would help me process what we’d been through and as a bonus might be something for our kids to read someday. And hey, if I found a chance to publish an essay here or there online or in a local paper or magazine, that would be nice too.
Before I knew it though, those “couple brief essays” had ballooned into over fifty pages of writing. I spent an hour here and an hour there adding, deleting, editing, and refining.
Then one day, as Olivia was looking over some of the writing, she turned to me and said: “This is really good. What are you going to do with it?”
The clear, obvious answer hit me all at once: “I…think I’m writing a book.”
Spurred on by Olivia’s support, I redoubled my efforts. I decided that if I was going to write an entire book, I wanted to provide three things I wish I’d had during our fertility journey:
- Clear, concise, and simple information about the causes and treatments for infertility
- Concrete tips and guidance on how to make sense of and support my emotional mental wellbeing while also supporting my partner
- A raw, honest, and comprehensive fertility story told from the male partner’s perspective
The next nine months were a whirlwind of writing, editing, and learning about all the “other” stuff like marketing and design that go into creating a finished product. In July 2022, I finally pressed “publish” on my book, The IVF Dad.
That moment of officially hitting the “publish” button was the scariest moment of all. I had spent weeks reminding myself that the goal of writing The IVF Dad wasn’t to sell a million copies and retire–it was to help just one person. If one person out there bought the book and it made their fertility journey a little easier, then it would be a success. Of course, that mindset is easier to say than to embrace at times, and any author wants their work to find a wide audience.
I was happy to see that more than one person bought the book, but the most validating reward came a few days later when I received this note from a reader:
My partner and I recently started IVF. She bought me a copy of your book, and I wanted to tell you that I’ve already finished it less than three days after it arrived. I found it such a helpful and compelling read and I feel incredibly well informed as we go through our IVF journey. It made me feel much less lonely, so I just wanted to thank you for writing such an informative, useful, and fantastic book.
I read Tyler’s note over. And then read it again. My eyes grew misty.
In the months since publication, more notes like Tyler’s have arrived from around the globe. It’s a great feeling to have provided the type of information and support for men that I wished I had myself during our journey.
Best of all, it feels as though all the stress, pain, sadness, and anxiety we experienced has now transformed in a source of help for others who need it. There’s no greater reward than that.