Quick Note: My eBook is now (finally, mercifully) in paperback. Regular price- $9.99 USD. New launch price through November- $8.49
The eBook is also on sale this month. Usually $4.99/now $3.99. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692950117
(Contact me directly for orders of 5 books or more-I'll hook ya up.) Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.
So I started chatting with someone online who had written a new book called: Down the F'n Tubes: An Ode to Fertility Futility. I'm really big on titles. I love a good play on words and phrases and can't think of one that would better sum up the feelings of anxiety and frustration of infertility than that one. (Is it too late to change my book title?) Unlike most infertility books, this one isn't written by a medical professional or "the woman" but "the couple". I cyber sat down with "the couple", Tom and Virginia Hanada for an interview.
Available in eBook & Paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B076YXQ2TV
LSF (That's me): A lot of people find it helpful to write out their thoughts when they're dealing with infertility but most of them just go under their covers with a syringe and scratch their angst into notepads they stole from the doctor's office. Why a book?
VH - In general, we’re private people, but we also try to be honest and open. A few years ago, we went out for lunch with some friends. Someone asked if we had any travel plans and we responded that we couldn’t really plan anything because the infertility treatments made things so unpredictable. As soon as we said that, one of our friends completely dropped out of the conversation and didn’t say more than two words for the rest of the afternoon. We found out later that she and her husband were about to start their first round of IVF. Apparently she really wanted to talk to us about it, but she didn’t feel comfortable. And that’s unfortunate. We could have supported each other. At that moment, we knew we wanted to start a conversation.
LSF: How long have you been dealing with infertility? So, what made you pick this time to write about it?
VH- Four years. It seems like forever to us, but we know people who have struggled with infertility for much longer. I felt the need to CREATE something to make up for the fact I couldn’t procreate. Writing creatively gave me a sense of control and purpose. I got to control the narrative, and it felt great to define infertility—instead of being defined by infertility.
LSF: Tom, the vast majority of non-medical infertility books are written by women. Did you get roped into this or was this all your idea?
TH: I was more than glad to be a partner in all of it. Virginia was enduring 98% of the awfulness of the experience (my 2% was having to masturbate into a cup at 7 am in a sterile hospital room without lubricant or porn; and for that I shall always be a martyr!).
LSF: Yeah, yeah, we all know what your 2% was. Boy, you people have to spell out everything.
TH: Just because of biological realities I wasn’t able to be the equal partner during infertility that I strive to be in all other areas of our lives. The least I could do was be an equal partner in a project that brought us both joy and expression.
LSF: "The least I could do"?... Virginia, are you telling him what to say? My husband has never put those 5 words together... Moving on... How did this collaboration work? Did you write the book together or did each of you come up with material independently and then compared notes?
TH- We’d walk the dog at night and decompress about the day, how we were feeling and what we wanted to say in the book.
(LSF: This is actually Tom and Virginia walking the dog.)
TH: ...And then we’d both write different sections of the story and come together and compare our work. Virginia is a college professor, and she approaches all problems with a scientific mind. So when we started composing the rhymes in anapestic tetrameter (aka the “Dr. Seuss meter”), the only way she could wrap her head around it was to create an Excel spreadsheet where she broke down each line by syllable and stress. I’m sure Dr. Seuss is rolling in his grave at the thought of us composing poetry in Excel spreadsheets, but we’re very happy with how the rhymes turned out!
LSF: Really? Those fricken little boxes drive me nuts.... Yeah, where did that Seuss-like rhyme pseudo children's book idea come from? I mean it's not like a normal game of word association: Syringe, nurse, blood, Seuss! I mean, what the hell?
TH - We came up with the rough idea together while driving back from an IUI appointment. But the thing was, we didn’t actually get the IUI because the doctor didn’t like the looks of the ultrasound – it looked like there might be polyps in the uterine lining, but could only be confirmed with a different kind of ultrasound, which couldn’t be done that day (and would be another couple hundred bucks). Virginia was really frustrated on that drive home. I commented that I envisioned the polyp as some mean old lady who lived on the uterine lining and was shouting at all the kids passing by to “Stay off my lawn!!!” Virginia laughed at that. And it was good to hear Virginia laugh. We decided at that moment that we were going to find some fun, imaginative way to tell the infertility story. Our good friend, Amanda is a talented artist. She really added a lot with her illustrations.
LSF: There's a lot of raw emotion in this little book. A lot of yelling and some cursing and even a few sexual positions mentioned. (One I had to ask my husband what it was. He said: "You know when I want some and you want to watch a TV show and we compromise? That's what that is.") Anyhow... Did you set out to give a good, honest, form of venting that we can all relate to or did it just evolve into that?
TH - I don’t think we would have ever finished it if it weren’t an honest expression of how we felt. We were angry. We were frustrated. We were annoyed. We were ashamed. I’m not sure we could write an infertility book that didn’t contain those emotions. We wanted to do it in a way that was both relatable to those who are familiar with the experience, and accessible to those who aren’t. Something that you can hand to your best friend, or your mother-in-law, or a young couple who just hit their first road block in the process. Hand it to them and say “Read this. And then let’s talk.”
LSF: Wait... Whoa... Your mother-in-law? I mean, you've got that sexual position that I didn't know had a name and you said the "M" word just a few minutes ago, and the "F" word's in the title...
TH - EVERYONE we know has been invited to read this! In fact, the book’s cover is going to be the image on our Christmas cards this year. Many of our elderly aunts will now know that we have a book about infertility on Amazon… even if they don’t know that “Amazon” is more than a jungle in South America.
LSF: Or a very large warrior woman.
TH: Right. One of our intentions in writing this book was to “come out” to our family and friends. We wanted to express our frustration to them, but to do it in a fun, entertaining way. It’s a narrow target to hit (serious yet whimsical), but the response from everyone we love has been amazing.
VH: The most amazing thing has been how many friends have seen our book and then reached out to personally share their own infertility struggles with us! These are friends whose Facebook pages are plastered with photos of their beautiful children. I never knew the anguish they went through to have those children. Everyone seems to fight infertility alone, and it’s not right that something so emotionally and physically draining is also so lonely and isolating.
TH: I think it’s been great. The more we can get other people to accept infertility without stigma, the easier it’s been for us to accept it too.
LSF: Thanks a lot you guys for taking time to chat... And for you know, only saying "masturbate" once.
Down the F'n Tubes: an ode to fertility futility by Tom and Virginia Hanada. https://www.amazon.com//dp/B076YXQ2TV -