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August 12, 2007

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, So Why Can't An Author On Her Knees Do It?

by ovulating debut author and guest blogger, Kathy Miller Haines

Ever since THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER came out, I wake up each morning with two questions on my mind: How are my book sales and am I ovulating?

I know I have no control over the former, much as it pains me. So I'm obsessing over the latter.

See, the husband and I forgot to have kids. We've both always wanted them, but life intervened and now that we're finally ready to proceed with Operation Get Knocked Up, our biology isn't cooperating. I've always had the ability to show up on time wherever I go, yet I can't seem to figure out how to have sex at the precise moment that will allow sperm to meet egg. I blame Catholicism. I spent so many years being afraid of getting pregnant and becoming a blight on my family that I think my cervix has become hostile toward any potential insurgency.

As sex has gone from recreation to failed procreation, I've developed what my friends call infertility rage, even though by all accounts I'm not infertile and the husband's swimmers are just fine, thank you very much. The anger stems from failing to accomplish something that, judging from the people I see every time I go to Wal-Mart, is easy for the rest of the population. Millions of people have had babies for millions of years. How can it thwart us? We can do anything! I wrote a book, damn it! For a brief period last weekend, my Amazon ranking was higher than THE DAVINCI CODE's. That's got to count for something!

Sorry. That's the rage talking.

I've started to think about each month's . . . er . . . cycle like Amazon rankings. Right now my fertility is in the high six figures, with the books that haven't been released yet. But in another week? I'm going to rocket to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS numbers and that's when we know it's time to boogie. I just hope the husband's ready for business before we dip toward classic American literature reprints. I hate THE SCARLET LETTER.

I've invested in kits designed to predict the glorious moment when the egg descends the fallopian tube. I monitor my fertility like a kid with a chemistry set and have developed the impressive ability to aim my urine at a very tiny target. And through all this I've learned that while I have quite a few years under my belt being a woman, I know nothing about my body. I mean seriously: where have I been? When did they teach us this stuff? I can tell you anything you want to know about the World War II home front, but until a month ago I assumed that the appendicitis-like pinching I felt each month was ovulation. It's not. That mystery pain has no explanation, aside from the various phantom diseases I've diagnosed myself with courtesy of WebMD.

Speaking of which: there's a very good chance I have cirrhosis of the liver.

Where once I eagerly devoured another author's stories of how they got published, now I've become obsessed with other women's tales of conception. Which are surprisingly dull (for the love of Mike, people: at the very least tell me what wine you drank.)  The parents I know got pregnant by:

   1. Not wanting to


   2. Having a lot of sex.

So hit me with your best advice:  Did you just relax and let it happen, or did the obsession and micromanaging pay off?

And for the record: I'm talking about both conception and sales.

Kathryn Miller Haines is a playwright, actor and writer.  Her first novel, THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER begins a series set in the theater community of WWII New York.  Says Kirkus, Kathy "knowingly describes thespian combativeness and audition politics . . . But her real success is her pitch-perfect rending of the early '40s, from rationing to java stops at the automat."


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Both times we were able to conceive, it was a couple of months after I had started a new job and was relaxed and reasonably confident about being able to provide for the family. Granted, 1990 was also after a nice dinner for my wife's birthday (she maintains). The first one, she was 35, the second, 39. In neither case did we try, but we didn't try not to.

But I'm a boy. It would be interesting to hear what some of the girls have to say.

I'm assuming you know about charting your temps. to predict ovulation. You take your temperature every morning when you wake up before getting out of bed. There is normally a temperature spike when you ovulate. I did this with my second child when I was 39 and had a bit more trouble conceiving than I did with my first when I was 30. If you indeed become pregnant, the temp. stays consistantly high, so charting also becomes a very handy dandy early pregnancy test. I know I had a book with a title like How To Take Charge of Your Fertility that had lots of helpful tips. We used some of them, like staying in one position after sex with your legs raised up in the air (god, what we do for our kids, even at the start). I wish you success and a very happy healthy pregnancy!

LOL. We got so sick of trying that we decided to take a couple months break, and got pregnant "accidentally". That was the first kid--it took about a year of trying and a month of not trying...

For the second one, we got a hit the first try. Go figure, I guess my body figured out how to do it.

Good Luck!

I wish I could help, Kathy. I had my kids when I was 27 and 30. I quit taking the pill and boom, I was pregnant.

Nice to see you on TLC!

Hi. It's me Margie.

Um, I don't have any kids, but my first guess would be that the thing you do when you're on your knees -- Uh, you can't get pregnant that way. I don't know who told you that would work, but I'm guessing it was a guy.

Kathy, I've been down the road you are on right now. Although, our dilemma was actually carrying a pregnancy to term. After eight of them and turning 40, I gave up.

I underwent every fertility text known to man (some of which I was convinced were against God and nature, can you say OUCH!) We underwent in vitro fertilization. I could go on and on.

The thing is, Kathy. Having children is such an incredible privilege some of us never get to experience. BUT -- find a specialist, a good one, and you and your husband go to him. If you've been trying for a year and had no luck, that's all the criteria you need.

Best of luck with this.

First of all, thanks for sharing, Kathy. You've come to the right place. There's a lot of life experience here and we like to talk turkey.

I agree with Candace -- find a good specialist. Maybe because I spent so many years in New York, a lot of my best girlfriends went through this. Serious career women who put off kids until late 30s, early 40s and then had trouble. The ones whose stories I know went through some harrowing stuff with infertility treatments, but they're all moms now. It took determination, high pain and trauma thresholds and lots of money, but I don't think any of them regret it.

Both your reasons 1 & 2 work for getting pregnant, but actually, #1 works best. Everyone I know who wanted to get pregnant and couldn't (including me) finally managed to be successful after they gave up and quit trying. Adoption seems to work really well, too. Adopt a child and viola, you're pregnant and you have two in diapers instead of one. Obviously, stress plays a huge role here. Unless, of course, you're not married, in which case getting pregnant is really easy even if you are stressed.

And, oh boy. If you think you are 'body-ignorant' now, wait until you're pregnant. You'll wonder how you could live in the same skin for so many years and know so little about it.

Best of luck!

Personally, I recommend cheap motels. My husband and I also forgot to have kids and quit our jobs to start a business instead. We were on a cross-country research trip and holed up in nowhere Kansas to hide out from the plague of cicadas that had coated our car in solid bug ooze. There is nothing like a romantic getaway in a cheap motel with a dead tv, a bag of chips, a six pack, and 8 million bugs outside the door to keep you in bed for 24 hours. We got a wonderful daughter the next year.

Kathy, I could write a book. Oh, wait -- I did write a book. But anyway, I've done the sex thing, the fertility treatment thing, the meeting with the adoption lawyer thing, the acupuncture, chanting, take-a-nice-vacation thing (didn't try the cheap motel, which I didn't know about then!) and the recurrent miscarriage syndrome treatment thing (which worked) and finally, at 41, used an egg donor (and did it again at 44) and I am a very very very grateful mother of 3. Everyone's path is different, just like the path to getting published, but I really believe that how we arrive at motherhood means very little, once we're there. I can't even remember now how sad and stressful that time was. And you won't either, once you have your baby in your arms.

Kathy, welcome, and best of luck on both fronts. My strategy was to try *not* to get pregnant because I was heading to grad school. Fortunately, the cosmos (and my sister) knew better than I what was good for me.

I wish I could help with the fertility issue; as I can't, I'll have to help on the other front and make sure I get your book, just as soon as I finish with Wollie!

Thanks everyone for the great advice and keep it coming! It's so reassuring to hear that others have had to deal with this as well. Tis a lonely road when you're a member of a frighteningly fertile family. I so didn't want to turn this into a science experiment, but I'm realizing that it might time to do something other than our current plan of action.

Although I am liking that cheap motel idea....


Best wishes, Kathy.

I came into the family picture as a stepfather and, within three months, a step-grandfather. First-hand experience is thin on the ground hereabouts.

Friends have told me that, yes, there comes a time when lab techs are your best friends - though Kim and Kev did draw the line at naming their daughter Pyrex Tex, as one wag waggled.

Cheap motels? Hah, a costume party opportunity! Contact Margie for 'wardrobe' and 'props.'

I was just talking to a friend whose adult daughter and her husband conceived in the back of a rented minivan parked outside their Disney World hotel.

Thanks for being our guest, Kathy!

Kathy, as someone in her thirties that just got knocked up with her first child, I know exactly what you are going through. Trying to conceive is probably one of the most stressful times in a woman's life. You learn more about your body than you EVER wanted to know.

Want to know what worked for me? Elevate your legs with your pelvis on top of a pillow immediately after the...um...deed for at least 30 minutes. The month I started doing that I got pregnant.

I wish you lots of luck!

Well, according to my family, the trick is to buy a new coffee pot. We bought our house, and I went out and got a cool fancy new coffee maker (lots of bells and whistles). I was pregnant the following week and couldn't use the darn thing for 2 years (no caffeine for me during pg and while nursing).

When we wanted to try again, it didn't happen. We went through many tests and many doctors. I got intimately acquainted with giving myself shots and forking over huge sums of $$ to my pharmacist. Finally, my coffee pot broke and I went and bought another one. I was pregnant 2 weeks later. We unfortunately lost that baby, and eventually quit trying because it wasn't happening.

4 years later, it was again time to get a new coffee pot (again!). My friend even teased me that now I'd get pg again. I swore that it couldn't happen (according to all my drs. and the history of 9 years of ttc and failures). Guess what? I used that pot one time, and suddenly started feeling sick. Yup, preggo again at 40!

My son is now almost 3, and I am NOT buying another coffee pot no matter what anyone says!!!!

IF is horrible, especially when it's unexplainable.

Ha! I think you win for the best advice, Ellie. I hope it works with toaster ovens. I really need one of those.

Kristine, we're pretty well versed in post deed gymnastics, but thanks for the advice.

Thanks everyone for sharing such a personal tails of your trials and tribulations!

Hi Kathy,

My story is long, but here it is. First time I conceived, it was easy. Three months trying and bada bing. The only problem was that three months later I miscarried. Then I couldn't get pregnant for another year. I finally did, but it was an ectopic pregnancy. Another year later, we used IUI (basically, the professional turkey baster) and I became pregnant. This one took and my son was born. I had another miscarriage and then conceived my daughter.

I do believe that stress has a lot to do with conception. Having sex when the ovulator predictor kit says its time takes all the sport out of love making. I would suggest that you consider something like IUI -- it's cheap, it gives you an extra edge because they juice up the sperm -- and, for us, I think it helped break the infertility cycle.

Best of luck!

Oooh, and shoot, I forgot to tell you. I do have a carved wood fertility sculpture thingy that we hung up shortly before we conceived. My sister in law used it and passed it on to several of her friends who swear by the thing. It's now back in my possession and we have no plans for my kids, so if you would like to borrow our fertility friend, just give a holler.

My mother always said she got pregnant when Dad just unbuckled his belt. I was fortunate to get pg that fast, too. But friends & family (well, step-daughter) have had trouble...

The raising of hips with legs in the air worked for 2 friends.

An ovulation monitor worked for my step-daughter. They tried for 4 years without luck and the first month she used it, it worked. Then she got pregnant while breastfeeding and has two 14 months apart.

A friend of my sister's had a lot of blood work done and they determined that she was lacking an enzyme that helped the egg stick to the wall. The egg got fertilized but it didn't want to stay in place. She changed her diet and had twins. I don't remember exactly what diet it was, or what foods she ate more of, but it worked.

Good luck!

My mother always said she got pregnant when Dad just unbuckled his belt. I was fortunate to get pg that fast, too. But friends & family (well, step-daughter) have had trouble...

The raising of hips with legs in the air worked for 2 friends.

An ovulation monitor worked for my step-daughter. They tried for 4 years without luck and the first month she used it, it worked. Then she got pregnant while breastfeeding and has two 14 months apart.

A friend of my sister's had a lot of blood work done and they determined that she was lacking an enzyme that helped the egg stick to the wall. The egg got fertilized but it didn't want to stay in place. She changed her diet and had twins. I don't remember exactly what diet it was, or what foods she ate more of, but it worked.

Good luck!

Hey, everyone, Kathy's written a really lovely book---plenty of style and personality and a great mystery, too. Check out Miss Winter!

Do not waste any time and get to a reproductive endocrinologist fast. The worst thing I did was not take seriously the niggling feeling I had that something was not right and I wasted 3 years. Age is everything in treating infertility. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. Period.

There are many illnesses and diseases that can cause infertility - not just STDs. And, there is the natural aging process. The reality is that once you hit 25 your fertility drops. Then, again, at 30, with another big one at 35. By the time a woman hits 40, most clinics will encourage you to seriously consider going with a donor egg. Many - if not most - of the women who are in their 40s that have had treatment have their children due to donor egg ivf. This is where another woman's egg is fertilized by your spouse's sperm (if possible) and you carry the child to term.

Obviously, this is not ideal for everyone and some couples then choose to either adopt or live child-free.

Do not wait. Get to an RE fast.



You should have sex as often as possible. Of course, I'm a guy, and I might be projecting a wee bit. So to speak :-)

Great good luck on the hunt.


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