'The Emotional Journey is Always Very Similar'

Amy Klein’s sincere guide to getting pregnant provides women a roadmap to infertility and obstacles

24 Apr 2020 | 12:31

Amy Klein is a journalist and essayist. Her New York Times column, “Fertility Diary,” followed her four-year journey to have a baby, with ten doctors, four miscarriages in three countries. Her new book, “The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind" (Penguin/Random House) is an honest and helpful guide to getting pregnant that she wished was around when she was trying. She lives in South Harlem with her husband and daughter.

Can you tell me a little bit about your infertility story, and how you knew you wanted to write a book about it?

I started infertility sometimes a little different than other people because I got pregnant right away after my wedding, and then I lost that pregnancy. And then I got pregnant again, and I lost it again. That's when I went to a fertility clinic. And you know over the next three years, I had a total of four miscarriages, something like 10 doctors in three different countries. I finally had a baby four and a half years ago, a daughter. So, I just started writing about it, and I sent in some of my essays to the New York Times, and then they called me. They said do you want to write a column about this, and I said sure.

How did you think the book or your own story would resonate with other women trying to get pregnant who are probably having complications, or think that I’m in my thirties or mid-thirties, am I waiting too long to try and get pregnant?

I don’t necessarily buy this myth of waiting; you do it when you’re ready. And it’s not necessarily that you’re waiting, you don’t have all this time to find out that you can. I was definitely much later in life to the picture and so sometimes my story’s relevant. My miscarriages are relevant to a lot of women. But sometimes it’s not. I didn’t freeze my eggs, and I didn’t have endometriosis. I’m not LGBTQ. So, there are some parts where it’s not only my story, I interviewed a lot of doctors. Because sometimes my story is not relevant. I may not be having a child on my own or have had your exact diagnosis, but I know what it feels like. The emotional journey is always very similar.

I know that you got pregnant using a donor egg, and I was wondering what you think are the different options out there for someone who maybe doesn't have the finances to do in vitro or donor eggs?

First of all, I traveled out of the country for donor eggs. Everything was a fraction of the price. I’m not wealthy; I’m a writer. I don’t have a lot of money, and we did go to Israel for IVF treatment because it was free. I’m not saying that everyone can travel or can pick up and go, but my husband’s family lived there.

My book is called "get through fertility treatment and get pregnant," but the first five chapters of the book doesn’t start with any fertility treatment, it’s about what you can do to try and get pregnant. It talks about things that you can check for you and your partner ... things that you can check to make sure that everything’s in order because there are a lot of people that don’t find out until halfway through the process that maybe there are things that a gynecologist could’ve found: that maybe you’re not ovulating; maybe you’re not even getting your period; maybe you don’t get your period regularly; maybe you have a fibroid or blood clotting disorder.

We women are so empowered in many ways but we don’t always know that much about our health. I don’t have a die-hard position on whether or not you should freeze your eggs. Everything is okay in my book, but I want us women to make the decision from a knowledgeable state. I want every woman in their early thirties to go to their gynecologist and know their hormone levels; know if they have fibroids.

Can you please talk about second infertility that you mention in your book?

Secondary fertility is where you have a kid or kids and you want more. I’m not saying which one is harder, which one is easier, but secondary infertility is also very painful for a lot of women whether they already have two kids and they want another. It’s painful because they don’t have as many kids as they want to, and they also struggle with the same feelings like I thought this was going to be easier. [They] didn’t plan on this financially or emotionally. It can be very hard, especially if the first time around it was easy.

This interview has been edited and condensed.