Thursday, July 02, 2009

Navigating the Land of If

Melissa spills more ink thanking me in the book than I truly deserve and this is the rare opportunity for me to publicly THANK HER for writing this book. I am a big believer in living a fully integrated life – what is important to our core values should be central to our work, should be central to our family and spiritual lives. In writing this book, Melissa has created tangible evidence of just that sort of integration – her deep compassion for those who suffer; her faith in knowledge and learning as being a path through hard experiences; her generosity in sharing everything she knows and learning more so she can share that too; her certain knowledge that families come in all different shapes and configurations and all are equally sacred; her ability to keep a sense of humor through it all; her deep ethical well and emotional honesty. This is a book written by a person I am lucky to call my wife, whom my children can be proud to call their mother. I am so proud of all the hard work she did. People, she worked so hard. And through it all never let the blog or her family slide. She deserves a victory lap.

With that dose of sincerity, here are my answers:

Q: Did you read the book from front to back, or did you turn immediately to a certain chapter? If so, which chapter? Are there any chapters that you purposely avoided?

I read this book the same way I read every book I pick up: I turned immediately to the last page to see whodunit? (Spoiler Alert!) Apparently this book ends with a photo of the author taken by me, and her bio -- most of which I already knew. While I have the greatest respect for the author’s work and all the fine writing that precedes this awkward dénouement, I must state from the outset that she could have done better with the ending. Perhaps a more highly qualified photographer? Even better, maybe she could have revealed on the last page that the Land of IF existed only in the mind of an autistic boy staring vacantly into a snow globe? Oh, that would have been rich!

Q: In the appendix, Melissa volunteers a supportive note to get us through our journeys, particularly those hard times like baby showers. Because there are just as many emotional pitfalls for our partners and spouses that might not be as overt to us, what note would you write to your partner to also support them through their part of this journey?

Just as Melissa wrote the note she wished she had with her during the hardest times of our sojourn in the Land of IF, what follows is the note I wish I had on-hand at those times.

Dude – This sucks. It sucks all day long and then when it’s done sucking it sucks some more. And it is okay to say that. Not to add having to talk about your feelings to the list of things that suck, but the simple admission that it sucks is something you owe yourself. Not just that it sucks for your partner, but it sucks for you. A manly thing to do is quote Winston Churchill, who said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” So get through the shittiness that is today and at the other end you’ll purge it all in a good run, or a great movie or a killer microbrew. And yeah, that won’t make the shitty disappear for good, but you’ll feel better for awhile. Be good to your partner. Be good to yourself. Keep going.

Q: I kept wishing, as I read the book, that certain people could have read certain parts while I was going through IF. To help THEM understand better what I was going through. Which part(s) did you want to show and to whom? Your RE? Your nosy neighbor? Your insensitive co-worker? Maybe even your spouse/partner?

Funny you should mention that, because the original idea was a book that infertile people could hand to their friends, relatives, whatnot and say, “Please read this.” But the book world being what it is, there’s no real category to sell that book in. It’s not self-help, it’s more like a “Help Me, Help You, Help Me.” So agents and publishers weren’t so stoked with that concept. They liked the idea of a book written for people going through infertility, easier to classify, so that’s what Melissa wrote. But it was always her hope that it would be a book you could hand to your mother, mother-in-law or best-friend-from-college-who-has-five-kids-and-can’t-let-her-husband-even-look-at-her-funny-or-she-gets-pregnant.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Moose by Stephanie Klein.

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