Has anyone noticed the distinct lack of infertiles in television and movies? Despite the presence of over 6 million women diagnosed as infertile in the US alone, you would think we are a rare breed so infrequently do we pop up anywhere. I can recall various made for TV movies about adoption, but I don't think they ever focused on the actual issue of infertility that lead to the couples adopting. Instead, a loving middle class suburban couple would spontaneously decide to adopt and an everlasting bond would be forged with their new child. End of story. There would be a hint that they were adopting because they could not conceive naturally, but those depths were never explored. There were no emotional breakdowns in the middle of the supermarket, no daily hormone shots in the ass, and no crying into the pillow at night because of the searing pain of inadequacy.
This is why I will always stand by Sex and the City as one of my favourite shows. Sure, plenty of shallow types claim it is their favourite show as well, and I cringe each time I hear that with the knowledge that I have voluntarily grouped myself with such vacuous company. Despite the focus on being swinging single ladies in Manhattan consumed with fashion and the all important, token shoe collection (shoes...swoon!), I maintain that Sex and the City delved into issues that most television shows wouldn't touch. This of course, includes what is near and dear to all of our wombs, infertility.
When Sex and the City decided to write Charlotte as a character dealing with infertility, I was nervous. I assumed it would be a cliched portrayal with a happy biological ending. Obviously it would be great to see a woman go through all of the treatment and come out with a real, live biological child, but I find the Hollywood picture-perfect conclusion is so predictable. To the media, infertility is almost always resolved successfully. People try for children for years and somehow always end up with what they want, in the way they want it. I'd like to think that's my future, but real life isn't so interested in a perfect resolution.
I monitored Charlotte's infertility with a rather disconcerting amount of interest, because at the time I was going through my own trouble alone. There were a few scenes with Charlotte unable to cope with Miranda's pregnancy, and I cannot count how many times I would watch them and cry. I cried because that emotion was all too familiar to me, and to see someone else, even a fictitious infertile experience these feelings, was quite overwhelming. Up to that point the only coping I was doing involved writing in my journal. All my anger, resentment and disappointment was internalised and I had no one to convey these feelings to. Watching Charlotte endure what I was experiencing as well was oddly cathartic. Even though I still didn't have anyone to speak to about my infertility, the ability to see that what I was feeling was not unique to me was comforting. The person or people that wrote that arc surely felt what I was feeling, or else they would not be able to capture those emotions so acutely.
Charlotte's story did not end with a successful end of infertility. The final episode saw Charlotte and her husband preparing to go meet their daughter in China. It was an ending I was proud of, because it showed that there are alternatives to the standard happy conclusion of flawless pregnancy, flawless biological child. After all that turmoil and heartache, she would finally have the child that she always wanted.
I'm sure there will be many times before my treatment comes to an end, however that will be, in which I will sit in front of the tv, box of tissues in one hand and my remote in the other, watching these episodes over and over again. I will cry when Charlotte cannot sit through a baby shower for one of her best friends because it is too emotional. I will cry when she gathers up the courage to attend that child's first birthday party even though she cannot help but to think it is not her own child's birthday that she's celebrating. I will cry when she miscarries the baby she so desperately wanted and tried so long to conceive. I will cry (but for a different reason) when her husband surprises her with the news that they can bring home their daughter.
So, who is up for an Infertiles-Only (present and former) Sex and the City marathon? Bring your own cosmopolitans, cupcakes/preferred snack cake, depression sweatpants and Jimmy Choos. I'll supply the tissues.