Catawampus: The Fertility Process from a Man's Perspective is a memoir detailing my wife and my experience through approximately two years of fertility treatments in our struggles to have a baby, told from the husband's, i.e. my, perspective.
I wrote this book for a variety of different reasons. First, through what is obviously a very personally challenging and emotional process, I was shocked by a host of different things, but specifically by (1) how many people I personally knew who "had" to undergo some type of fertility treatment, (2) what a fundamental disconnect can exist between those going through this struggle and, essentially, everyone else out there in the world who is (happily) not; and (3) the fact that there did not seem to be any resource out there -- book or otherwise -- by a man detailing the man's side of this maddening experience.
Thus, I figured I might as well write a book. In doing so, I wanted to provide a resource for women and men who were actually going through the process itself -- women in order to understand a little bit of what the men in their life might be thinking and men in order to maybe feel a bit less isolated when they were tramping into a fertility clinic to provide yet another "sample." But, also, the goal was to provide a glimpse into a process that many of you all will hopefully never have to go through, so that you have a better understanding of what a difficult, imminently frustrating, and bizarre experience it can be for people you may know.
And, yes, the final reason I wrote this book: I enjoy writing and, apparently, I think I am pretty clever. Actually, I am very proud of a few things I was able to do in this book. A random compilation of some of these is below:
1. I use the word "mellifluous." (Correctly, I think; actually, it's kind of used ironically, but, I think correctly, although I'm not sure I used ironically correctly just now either.)
2. I use "Zinedine Zidane" as a verb. (Perhaps not the most timely reference, but, at the same time, a classic.)
3. I have an amazing Who Framed Roger Rabbit? simile. My copyeditor asked me to clarify this particular paragraph, but I told her, no, no, ma'am, I really can't do that. Everyone is going to know exactly what I am talking about, trust me.
4. I reference a quote by William Gay. William Gay was a brilliant fiction writer from Hohenwald, Tennessee. I’m sure many of you have not heard of him, but, at the same time, I’m sure a handful of you have and I know one of you at least is a big fan. And that’s the point. If you’re a random fan of a movie or book or song that you might think has absolutely nothing to do with fertility, infertility, or “processes,” in general, there’s actually a pretty good chance that I probably reference it in Catawampus at some point or another. (ST:TNG? Jorge Luis Borges? The Neverending Story?).
So, to be clear, this book is for everyone! So, if you're anywhere from 20 to 50 and have ever struggled with fertility or known anyone who has ever struggled with fertility, this book is for you. Also, if you've, say, never had a baby, never wanted a baby, had plenty of babies years ago, don't plan on having a baby anytime soon, or, in general, have no interest in learning about how babies can be made, then this book is also definitely for you, because it's entertaining, relatively short, funny, and, in general, is an important story that needs to be told.
What they are saying about it:
"[Stuart] bravely offers a perspective you might not have heard and does it with humor and hope."
— Samantha Fisher, WKRN (ABC - Nashville) News Anchor and former CNN correspondent
"With 'Catawampus' Stuart Burkhalter has created a quirky guide to understanding the fertility process that both educates and entertains. By chronicling the highs and lows of his own efforts to start a family with his wife, Stuart blends information with humor to create a wholly engaging read that is equal parts reference and memoir."
— Hon. Rory-Owen Delaney, Man Bites Dog Films, director of The Rivalry: Red V. Blue, Toxic Soup, and others
Catawampus is a must-read for anyone looking to better understand the fertility process from both a procedural and personal standpoint. As much a memoir as it is a reference source, it describes what Stuart and Julie experienced physically, emotionally, and financially, providing potential parents with a reliable roadmap of what they can expect should they, like the Burkhalters, choose to trek along this trying trail. But Catawampus isn’t just for couples who are trying to conceive – it’s also for the friends and family members who want to support them on their journey, as well as for healthcare professionals who want to fully appreciate and address their patients’ needs beyond what’s listed on any medical record or chart.
— Red City Review, redcityreview.com
"LOVED [the] book, and I plan on getting several friends of mine to buy it and read it. It is REALLY well done...."
— Chuck Beard, Author of Adventures Inside a Bright-Eyed Sky and owner/operator of East Side Story
Virginia Festival of the Book
March 18, 2015