Saturday, 17 May 2014

Guest Blog - My Little Soldiers

When my wife and I were struggling to make a baby I found it hard to vocalize my feelings. My failure at fatherhood ate away at my very being and made me feel less of a man. Friends later told me that my body was physically hunched from the emotional weight of my baby wait. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone and certainly not mates. I would walk past children playing in the park and I’d feel my heart breaking into tiny pieces. Consumed by Bugaboo envy I’d see couples pushing their baby strollers and want to punch them in the face. I would oscillate wildly between anger and depression. After learning a friend of ours was pregnant I didn’t leave my bedroom for two days.

But although as a couple we were, by the World Health Organisation’s definition, officially infertile there was one small life raft I could hold onto – it wasn’t me with “the problem”.
I am ashamed to admit that when my wife and I both had our fertility tests I sat in the doctor’s room waiting for the results silently praying that my sperm would not be judged to be ineffective and that instead it would be my wife’s eggs at fault. So when the doctor opened up his beige file of notes and read them in silence before matter-of-factly announcing that Iza had polycystic ovaries, I almost whooped for joy.

Imagining what it would be like for a man to have faulty sperm was the basis for my novel – My Little Soldiers.

In a modern world where the role of men is being questioned by men themselves, and conferences are even being held discussing what it is to be a man, male infertility is a very useful device for exploring modern masculinity, as well as a good arena for comic material. At its heart, my novel is an unconventional love story but I wanted the comedy, much of it drawn from my own experiences, to contrast the heartbreaking tale of loss and yearning.  

I hope the novel gets more men to open up about their infertility problems, and also for their partners to realise that whilst they may be on the frontline there is man next to them who is just as emotionally invested as they are.

Already one woman has told me that after reading it she saw her husband in a whole new light and for the first time they properly discussed their previous years miscarriage.  

My Little Soldiers – by Glenn Barden (Piranha Press) is available here
Extracts can also be read at
Twitter: @glennbarden    Facebook:

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