Most of the time I imagine I’m writing for a woman who is kind of like me. My book, The Pursuit of Motherhood, is dedicated to ‘all the women who know how it feels’. So when a man tells me they’ve read it, I’m always a bit surprised as well as really very touched indeed.
This week I had an email from an old family friend who I hadn’t seen for years. He and his wife had, by chance, heard the Radio 4 documentary, A Family Without A Child, that I appeared in last month. He wrote to say that they’d bought the book and that he was half way through it. They are a generation older than me and I’d always thought of them them as a cool couple who had made a choice not to have children. But what I now know is that they had invisibly handed the baton of infertility onto me and we were connected in a way we never knew existed. He finished his email by saying that he thought my book was not just for women but also for all the men who had the hope of being partners in creating a child. It made me want to re-write my dedication to all the women who know how it feels, and all the men too.
Later the same day, I got a new follower on twitter: @MakeFertCon – a new national campaign to provide better support for men experiencing infertility. I followed back (I’m polite like that) and by return was asked whether I had any views on the taboo that surrounds male infertility. A tweet didn’t seem the place to go into the detail of my day (in the same way that’s it’s not the place to tell the world you’re in Starbucks having a coffee, unless you happen to be the Chief Exec of Costa in which case that would be interesting). So I simply replied that I thought it was a ‘massive issue’. It was yet another reminder (and note to self) of how men are so often left out of the thinking, just expected to go into a cupboard with a pot and page 3 to perform.
So if you’re reading this and you are a woman a bit like me please do what I’ve done and sign @MakeFertCon’s government petition to improve the treatment of male infertility. Because men have feelings too.