5/09/2005

Yes Virginia, there really are infertiles!

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.

19 comments:

Jenn said...

I'll bring the cake! It is sad that there aren't more realistic portrayls of infertility in the media.

susan / holdingpattern said...

Count me in. In the US, I think that TBS is showing the final Sex and the City episode, where Charlotte leaves for China, tomorrow.

Suz said...

The image of Charlotte pulling herself out of grief to attend Brady's first birthday party is one of the most enduring of the entire series and something that I have drawn strength from more than once.

amyesq said...

Wow. I never really watched SATC, but am glad to hear that at least one show protrayed IF accurately. And I have to chuckle at the idea of depression sweatpants WITH the Jimmy Choos. Hey, why not?

Molly said...

Ooo, ooo, can I come? Even though I'm not infertile? I'll bring you a cute pair of Manolo Blahniks . . . and some liquor . . .

Dooneybug said...

I haven't watched Sex and the City. You're right, there's not enough representation of IF on TV. But I did watch a movie a couple weeks ago about a teenage mother who ends up giving her baby up for adoption to her high school teacher who was suffering IF. I sobbed through the whole thing. Well, count me in on the marathon!

Hannah said...

Looks like you have lots of people to talk to about infertility! I started a support group earlier this year and it helps so much just to have your feelings validated. Am I the only one who wishes she would have bought stock in EPT pregnancy tests? When I think of the money I have pissed away....ha ha ha.. And talk about symptoms of pregnancy....I even threw up once from morning sicknes...though I WAS NOT pregnant! You are soooo not alone! Although I have closed that chapter in my life (moving on to adoption) I am here, sisters, and ready to listen and share with you. My heart goes out to all of you and I pray that your journey will be a short one. H

Nico said...

I don't think there could have been a more perfect ending to Charlotte's story. I *bawled* when she showed her posse the picture of her daughter in the coffee shop.

Julie said...

I make a wicked Cosmo so count me in! I agree that it was handled very well as were many topics on the show. I wish they would have continued the show.

luminista said...

Dude!! Totally count me in!! I just recently (through the good offices of one my girlfriends here at work lending me her SITC DVD's) have become intimately acquainted with the show.

I'll bring the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Brownies!!!!

(and for all you Deadwood and SITC fans out there...is it just me, or would a sex scene btwn Samantha Jones and Al Swearengen be totally, blisteringly hot??)

Pamplemousse said...

I vote for a sex scene with Seth and anybody - mmm!

It is the episode when Charlotte is having her troubles with the first hubby and Miranda is considering the termination of Brady-to-be, that always has me blubbing.

B Mare said...

D'you know, I missed most of the last few series of SATC, so I have missed the full solemnity of Charlotte's struggle- though I do recall the puppy she got at one point. Might have to go back to the ones I missed and give them a look in.

WonderMama said...

Oh, how I wish this could actually happen.
I would travel many miles for an afternoon such as this.

In which seasons of SITC does all of this occur? I haven't had cable in a million years and really want to rent the DVDs.

ms pickled eggs said...

The only thing they got wrong was that Charlotte didn't gain any weight like true infertiles. But it was a pretty good portrayal of infertility, much better than the normal happy ever after crap.

I do remember there being a woman in Brookside who had failed a IVF or two, but Brookie was shite and towards the end only watched by ten people.

The usual 'miracle' pregnancies in soaps/drama annoy the shiny shite out of me.

DeadBug said...

The scene where Charlotte gets the call from her R.E., saying that none of the eggs were viable--I had a strange feeling (premonition?) that night that I would face the same situation one day.

--Bugs

Sarah said...

Okay, I will come out of the closet and say that I never watched SATC. But if you'll have me, I'll show up for such a glorious, snack-filled afternoon anytime.

K said...

Count me in, I could identify with so many of Charlotte's IF moments. When she gets the rattle with Trey to her running in the park past the strollers.

Oh, and the one adoption movie I can think of that actually showed a little of the treatment/emotions was the one with Glenn Close called immediate family. It's a little outdates, but I'll watch any infertility related movie

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I'm there! Cupcakes and Jimmy Choos in tow.

I'm a big fan of the show because I lived in Manhattan and can relate to so many of the stories and the dialog was so real. The way they handled infertility was perfect. I believe the writer for show went through infertility herself and she was never able to have her own biological children. I am so glad one writer had the tits to treat the subject the way it should be instead of the candy assed coating the way they handled it on shows like Friends (don't even get me started about that one).

Emily

Manuela said...

I admit it. I was a SATC slut... as were all my girlfriends... and we would do the weekly Cosmo gathering at someone's house... where we would laugh, and swoon, and cry en masse... en cue.

I wasn't officially diagnosed as 'infertile' at the time these episodes ran... but you have inspired me to go back and watch them again with a fresh perspective.

And lastly... I actually predict that infertility is the next pet issue in the media... the new 'lifestyle chic' as it were. Do you know that there are TWO... not one... but TWO new medical dramas coming to our TV sets this fall... BOTH set in fertility clinics... I have a theory about this and have done a post on this topic over at my ol' blog. www.manuela.blogs.com April 30th, titled 'Inconceivable', which is actually the title of one of these new shows. (Sorry, I'm tech-challenged I tried to put the direct link here but somehow messed it up...)

Love your blog!