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Q&A with “The Trying Game” author and infertility advocate, Amy Klein

Amy Klein could not have imagined the journey ahead when she began trying to conceive.

Faced with fertility obstacles, she quickly became an expert. After nine rounds of IVF, four miscarriages, three acupuncturists, two rabbis, and one reproductive immunologist, she finally became a mother. And she wrote about it all for the New York Times Motherlode blog in her “Fertility Diary” column.

Now, she has penned a reassuring, no-nonsense guide to both the emotional and practical process of trying to get pregnant, all written from the perspective of someone who has been there. The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind debuted this month, and Amy is excited to share the book she wishes she’d had when she was TTC.

Fertility Centers of Illinois experts appear in the book sharing their knowledge, insight, and helpful advice. Below are some sample quotes in the book: 

“I think word of mouth is an incredibly valuable way to find a doctor,” says Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld- Cytron of Fertility Centers of Illinois. 

 “Men are one half the genetic contribution to making a baby,” Dr. Marie Davidson, a psychologist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, likes to remind the couples she counsels. “Many men will come to a fertility practice and feel like they don’t even count— that’s crazy,” she says. “I’ve also met many couples where there is a joint fertility issue. Sperm is never off the hook, no matter what the semen analysis reveals.” 

And, unsurprisingly, “women feel it’s their fault no matter what,” psychologist Dr. Davidson says. Even if they don’t feel like it’s their fault, “they want to protect their husband’s feelings,” she says. 

To celebrate Amy’s book release, we sat down with her to discuss her experiences, inspiration, how she aspires to help others, and her words of hope to others still on their path to parenthood.

Q: What are your personal experiences with infertility?
A: My journey started when I got pregnant a week after my wedding at 41, then lost it before my doctor’s appointment. Over the next three-four years, I had three more miscarriages, underwent nine rounds of IVF, saw ten doctors in total before I got pregnant and had my daughter, who is now almost five.  

Q: What inspired you to write your book, “The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind”?
A: I started chronicling my journey in The New York Times “Fertility Diary” column, thinking I would get pregnant soon and start writing about it — but it took 30 more columns over the next three years. In between the time I started writing and when I had the baby and got out of the first harrowing years of motherhood, I realized I wanted to tell a bigger story than my own — everyone going through infertility’s story, in order to help those at the beginning or in the middle of their journeys.

Q: How do you hope this book helps those on their journey to parenthood?
A: I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I want people to avoid those mistakes. I want them not to be overwhelmed by the process of trying to get pregnant — either on their own or with medical and alternative medical help. I want them to have all the right questions to ask their doctors (because I’m not a doctor and I can’t give medical advice, although doctors in the book do!). I want them to know how to handle their boss, their mother-in-law, that one pesky friend who asks too many questions, and even to preserve their relationship. This is the book I wish I had. 

Q: What is something you learned that surprised you while writing your book?
A: Look, I haven’t been through EVERYTHING. I’m not gay or single and I didn’t have endometriosis or PCOS. But what I found talking to people from all walks of life — Catholics, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinas, Trans people, surrogates — is that we all go through similar things. We don’t know how to find a or pay for it or deal with our emotions, no matter what the procedure. I spoke to a gay couple who had such disappointing egg results — and they felt it just as hard as I did with my own eggs. So that felt familiar.  

Q: What is the number one thing you wish people knew about infertility?
A: Infertility is a disease, as defined by the World Health Organization. I

t’s not life-threatening, in terms of you will not die, but the pain of childlessness is awful. I wish people knew to treat others as if they had an illness, and got full medical coverage, and support — and not told to “just relax.” (You wouldn’t tell someone with a heart condition to just relax, right?) So I wish people with infertility struggles knew this was normal — one in eight couples in America! — and there are many ways to start a family. 

Q: What is your message to those who are losing hope or feeling frustrated?
A: You have to take care of yourself. If that means a break, take a break. If that means giving it your all – give it your all. And DON’T stay on one path for too long because insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results. Try a different protocol or doctor or clinic or move onto the next thing (donor egg/sperm/surrogate). There are so many ways to have a family, so keep your eye on the big picture until you can get there.