Infertility and the media
It used to be that characters on popular television shows would find out in one episode that they’ve miscarried or can’t have children for one reason or another and in the next episode, they are adopting.
It was frustrating that they didn’t cover treating infertility or they treated it so lightly that no one could really grasp how all-encompassing the process truly is, but I think it's changing for the better.
When you're struggling with infertility, babies and pregnant women seem to be everywhere. So does infertility, it seems... at least on TV and in Hollywood.
Infertility and reality TV
Even though reality TV shows get a bad rap, they do bring some issues to the forefront that otherwise would remain "taboo." Hearing about celebrities going through infertility is in some ways reassuring because they have gobs of resources and access to the best doctors and still struggle, which only proves some things are out of our control, including our bodies. Infertility does not discriminate!
- Khloe Kardashian has been open about her and husband Lamar Odom's struggle to get pregnant, leading to her sister Kourtney offering up her womb as a surrogate on a recent episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.
- Giuliana & Bill suffered a miscarriage followed by a failed IVF cycle and ended up having a baby through a surrogate and are planning to have a second child the same way.
- The Little Couple weren't even able to complete a cycle of IVF due to complications arising from Jen's small frame. They recently adopted a little boy from China.
Infertility and sitcoms
You can only cover so much in a 30-minute episode, but I was thrilled to see these storylines:
- On an episode of Friends, Chandler and Monica found out they were very unlikely ever to conceive a child. Even though the show tried to bring humor to their situation, the overall scene was thoughtful as Monica learned that she might never be a mother.
- Robin, on How I Met Your Mother suspected she was pregnant and panicked at the thought of losing her independence and then discovered she was not only not pregnant, but also infertile.
- Liz Lemon on 30 Rock decided she wanted to be a mother and began taking fertility drugs, but unable to handle the side effects of the hormone injections, she changed her mind and chose to pursue adoption.
- On PBS' popular Downton Abbey, after struggling to conceive for several months, Mary and Matthew Crawley find out that Mary’s younger sister, Sybil, has gotten pregnant unexpectedly. Mary and Matthew each make separate, secret visits to a fertility doctor and Mary undergoes a procedure to clear her uterus. Mary’s mother also experienced infertility in the form of miscarriage in a prior episode.
Infertility and movies
Infertility storylines/subplots have even made it to the big screen, in alphabetical order:
- Baby Mama (2008)
- Facing the Giants (2006)
- Immediate Family (1989)
- Mother and Child (2009)
- The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)
- Raising Arizona (1987)
- Up (2009)
- What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012)
Infertility, loss and celebrities
Gwyneth Paltrow recently revealed that she and her husband, Chris Martin suffered a miscarriage after their two children were born.
Two members of country trio, The Dixie Chicks have been open about their struggles to conceive and so have countless other actresses: Brooke Shields, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Celine Dion, Courteney Cox, Marcia Cross, Angela Bassett, Christie Brinkley, Karen Duffy, Cindy Margolis and Bethenny Frankel just to name a few.
I feel a certain kinship with these women; I identify with and appreciate their being vocal about their reproductive struggles and respect each one for putting a face to this disease. They all set a goal for themselves and then achieved it and are all mothers today. It's as though, suddenly there's this huge thing that seems so easy for every other woman and yet it turns out we're unfortunately ill-equipped and there's nothing we can do to change it. Seeing celebrities experience that out-of-control feeling doesn't necessarily make me feel any better, but at least I know I'm not alone.
I truly hope the media continues to feature infertility in storylines and by doing so further educating people about this fight so many of us face.