And Baby Makes Three?

No, I’m not pregnant. Don’t get excited. However, I am talking about baby-making today. Well, okay sort of, in a roundabout way…

Earlier this year, I finished my second novel. Eager for my beta readers to praise and congratulate me on such a witty and amazing creation, I quickly sent them the first twenty chapters. I smiled as I waited, ready for them to tell me how brilliant I am. Well, I guess you could say I was in for a bit of a rude awakening. They didn’t hate it but they weren’t exactly in love with it either. It became increasingly clear as I considered the feedback that something in the story was not working.

When I appeal to beta readers, I like to get a range of opinions because I know not everyone will love or hate the same ideas. I’m okay with varying opinions. What I pay attention to are the recurring thoughts, especially when those thoughts aren’t all “hip, hip, hurray”. If someone even hints at a specific part of the story causing an imbalance, I pay close attention. They might not be able to pinpoint exactly why they feel this way but the fact that something is amiss means that I need to re-evaluate what I’m writing.

So, I did what every self-respecting writer does. I crawled into a corner and cried, licking my wounds methodically waiting for my beta readers to tell me they were only kidding, that they loved it really.

Ummm… yeah, beta readers? Are you still out there? You still love me, right? It’s getting kind of lonely over here.

I’ve stewed in frustration trying to come up with a way to “fix” my creation. I even asked my software engineering husband what he would do with the story even though I know he hasn’t the foggiest. I finally let him go back to the safety of writing code after watching the sweat breaking out along his forehead. I was making him nervous.

My story sat for several months until I finally decided that gosh darn it, even I am bored with promoting the same old, same old. I published The Between World almost a year ago. It’s time for something new before I reach a point when even I can’t take myself seriously as a writer anymore. I’m supposed to be the professional here and it’s my story. Time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.

The good news? I’m (finally) making progress. There was one subplot that I didn’t like so it shouldn’t have surprised me when it wasn’t well received by the beta readers. I’m writing what is essentially a lighthearted, fun story but I’d created a subplot where the sister is suffering from domestic abuse. There isn’t anything the least bit funny about that! It was dragging the story down and I knew I needed to drop it, but I was having trouble parting with so many chapters, especially after I’d already cut the entire ending.

What does this have to do with baby-making? I’m glad you asked! It occurred to me that if I simply changed the situation so that the sister is still “struggling” but not with something quite so dire, then I could rewrite rather than simply dump. I’ve settled on a situation in which the sister and her husband are desperately trying to have a baby but for whatever reason, it’s not happening. I figure this can lend itself to all sorts of uncomfortable and even comical situations for my main character who attempts to seek refuge at her sister’s house after her apartment burns to the ground.

So, the question I pose to you today as I brainstorm possibilities is what is the craziest thing you have done (or heard of doing) to get pregnant? It doesn’t have to be personal experience. It could be some wacky wives tale that you’ve read about or know of a friend buying into. On top of that, have you ever been caught in the middle of a horrifying baby-making experience that you wish you could wipe from your memory? Please share anything and everything. You never know what will find its way into my storyline…

Oh, and just for the record, the baby-making idea was my husband’s. See, he is a genius after all.

Until next time, happy writing!

10 thoughts on “And Baby Makes Three?

  1. wordsfromanneli says:

    I know how hard it is to get rid of some part of your story that isn’t working, but once you let it go, you realize how much better the book will be. I like the idea of hanging onto the basic scenes but changing some of the content. I’m sure your rejuvenated work will become more inspiring and you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction over the results.

  2. Judith Post says:

    My daughters are grown, but when I was trying to get pregnant, my husband was so anxious that he’d stick a thermometer under my tongue before he left for work to see if I was ovulating or building for it, and then he’d draw charts for the “best times” for sex. And my friend, who was determined to have a baby of a certain sex (can’t remember which), stood on her head in a corner after sex to help the sperms travel faster to the egg. Just thoughts….

    • stephanieingramauthor says:

      I’ve heard of charting basal body temperature but I like that it was your husband who was most into sticking the thermometer under your tongue every morning. That’s sweet and endearing. Your friend standing on her head after sex made me laugh out loud. That is perfect. I can see my main character walking into the room and her sister is standing on her head and she just rolls her eyes. That’s great. Thanks so much. 🙂

  3. philangelus says:

    My first thought was that she should see a NaPro doc. 🙂

    But then I thought — what if you have the sister TOTALLY into the natural family planning thing to the point where she’s absolutely comfortable talking about cervical mucus in front of the other characters. I mean, there’s a whole language out there for this stuff, and if she’s completely embraced NFP, she might be thrilled to tell people things like “Well, we have eggwhite fertile mucus now, and the cervix is wide open and soft, so I think tonight’s ideal for baby-making!” while everyone around her sits looking like 8-0

    She could also say incomprehensible things like “I’ve O’d on CD 15 of the last three cycles with a 12-day LP, which I think is pretty good, right?” (and everyone can just be like, “Um….yeah, I guess.”)

    I have heard that if there are fertility problems, the woman should lie on her back with her buttocks on a pillow for about 30 minutes after sex in order to make sure the sperm have a better chance at getting to the tubes.

    But I do have a word of caution: infertility is HORRENDOUSLY painful to couples, and therefore I wouldn’t make this couple already infertile if you’re looking for something lighthearted. Maybe they haven’t started trying yet but want to make sure that when they do, they’re successful. But infertility is heartbreaking and in some ways just as devastating as domestic violence, and I would caution against making it a source of laughs.

    • stephanieingramauthor says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. Infertility is a serious thing and it can destroy a marriage. I didn’t mean to make light of it. I don’t plan on making the couple infertile actually (they will end up pregnant by the end without needing help from a doctor). I actually just wanted them to be so completely consumed by the baby-making process when my MC shows up at the door that it becomes a very uncomfortable place for her to stay. The time frame that I’m looking at is within one to three months of trying before they conceive, which is fairly normal. I just want them to be obsessed with it to the point of making everyone around them uncomfortable.

      You’ve given me a lot of great thoughts there – especially to insert into conversations to make my main character cringe. LOL Cervical mucus … gotta love it! Definitely she would be one to post her chart on Facebook as well. 🙂

      • philangelus says:

        I’ve been using NFP for 22 years now, so if you need someone to look over your character’s cervix/mucus/cycle talk to make sure it’s accurate, I’d be glad to help.

        Oh, and if you don’t mind…women should be taking folic acid three months prior to conception to prevent certain birth defects (spina bifida, anencephaly) and many women don’t know this. Would you mind having your character mention it? It helps make “good eggs” (your character should totally be obsessed with making good eggs, since eggs start to ripen three months prior to ovulation). But my daughter died of anencephaly, and if more women knew to start taking folic acid ahead of time, maybe other women could be spared that loss.

  4. stephanieingramauthor says:

    Thanks for the offer.

    You make a good point about folic acid / taking prenatal vitamins long before trying to conceive. I could certainly envision a scene when the sister tries to convince my main character to take prenatal vitamins because of these reasons even though my MC is not even married and would be annoyed by the assumption that she was as baby-obsessed as her sister. I am more than happy to add something that could encourage other woman to take folic acid if they are even thinking about having a baby sometime down the road in an effort to avoid devastating birth defects.

    I am very sorry for the loss of your daughter. 😦

    • philangelus says:

      Thank you. She was a sweetie.

      About vitamins, you could have the sister with all her various vitamins spread out before her: vitamin A to increase the quality of her cervical mucus, vitamin B6 to increase the quantity of cervical mucus and have a more pronounced thermal shift, wild yam cream rubbed into the skin in phase iii to support progesterone production, vitamin C to help with cell wall flexibility… 🙂

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