ADdressing Infertility

Recently, the New York Times wrote an article about a new reality series that TLC began airing strictly on their website. “A Conception Story,” a Web-only show follows the lives of 6 women as they try to conceive over the next seven months. Which, seeing that this is the same network that airs “A Wedding Story” and “A Baby Story,” makes perfect sense.

Meet Kristen, one of the six women in "A Conception Story"

I mean really … what better way to bridge the “gap” between the Wedding Planning and the arrival of a newborn baby by filming a show about Family Planning?

No. Really … I’m not being sarcastic. Even though at first I was hesitant to watch the show, I must admit that curiosity got the best of me. While it’s currently just wrapped up it’s second month of video entries, I’m actually invested in watching these six women’s stories.

For those that were as skeptical (or perhaps jaded?) about watching ecstatic BFP (“big fat positive” … as in a positive pregnancy test) announcements via the web, I’ll spare you the heartache to let you know, as of today, there has been only one person who saw the two pink lines thus far. And it’s a couple that had been been trying to conceive for close to three years.

Which is another thing. Out of the six couples we’re initially introduced to, half of them have been experiencing difficulty trying to conceive. The others that are just “starting” their quest to have a baby (or add another one to their family); well, it would appear that they, too, may be finding out that getting pregnant isn’t quite as easy as the rest of the world makes it seem to be. Or as easy as the proverbial “birds and bees” theory that we were taught in school.

Speaking of the birds and the bees …

About two weeks ago, I stumbled on another article in an Austin** newspaper. It’s this article that led me to this website and the humorous, but spot-on videos about a Bird and a Bee dealing with infertility. If you haven’t watched them, I urge you to do so, if only to empathize with what any infertile couple can encounter.

Both “A Conception Story” and the “Increase Your Chances” vignettes  (also spotlighted in this article in Salon, an award-winning online news and entertainment Web site) are probably one of the first real advertisements highlighting the difficulties in trying to conceive.

The Bird and the Bee

And when I say “advertisements” in relationship to the TLC story, I do mean advertisement. Because although the stories being told in “A Conception Story” are in “real time” (as evidenced by the journals that these women write for the show), the whole she-bang is sponsored by First Response, whose products focus on all aspects of pregnancy planning. And it’s quite evident the moment you click on the TLC website for the show, that they’ve invested a lot of money into advertising their products.

But getting back to these advertising campaigns, it’s quite refreshing to know that there are companies*** out there that are willing to go that in-depth with the emotional side of infertility. Because, face it: thus far, any advertisements for infertility I’ve heard were for Infertility Clinics or Hospital Networks. And it’s typically only a 30- to 60-second spot.

Yeah; that’ll never be enough time to go into depth about the multiple layers of Infertility.

As happy as I am about Infertility getting its fair share of air time, it’s sad to see that other people still may not empathize with what an infertile couple go through both physically and emotionally. All you have to do is look at some of the comments made in regards to such articles that brought these ads to the forefront.

One person commented:

Couldn’t it be that if you can’t get pregnant on your own that it means that god didn’t want you to have kids?

[Duh. Don’t think that I haven’t already thought about that. And oh, by the way … I believe if we’re talking about one G*d, I believe it’s common respect to address him/her formally; not with a lower case “g.” I’m just saying … ]

While another person wrote:

The best way to become a parent is to chose to have your children during your most fertile years, not when you are old.

[Hmm … maybe some of us did choose to become parents when we were supposed to be most fertile? And so what if we started later in life? What does it matter to you?]

And yet another person stated the obvious:

If you can’t have babies, why not just adopt?

[Because clearly adopting a child is such a simple task. And, unlike infertility treatments, there’s no financial or emotional stress involved in the adoption process. NOT!]

But this one … for me, this one is the kicker of them all:

Infertility, especially in developed nations like the US, is probably a good thing. I think it’s reprehensible that big pharma and the medical community is encouraging people to have children.

That last statement is what probably angered me the most. Even more than the “G*d didn’t mean for you to have kids” statement. To me, this statement has the potential to dig deeper than the emotional turmoil an infertile couple can feel. As if feeling like failure for not being able to reproduce wasn’t bad enough … it is statements like that which can strip away any sense of support that an Infertile can turn to outside of the Adoption, Loss & Infertility (ALI) Community.

But that’s my own humble opinion. Because really, when *I* look at both the “Increase Your Chances” advertisement and TLC’s “A Conception Story” Web series, I don’t immediately think about running to the first Infertility Specialist I know. And I don’t make a mad dash to the drug store to pick up more Home Pregnancy Tests.

No. The first thing I think of is that it’s about d*mn time that Infertility is getting its time in the spotlight. Just like Cancer, Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease … and pretty much every other health condition (Erectile Dysfunction anyone?) has.

Don't you think this 24 & 25 yo newlywed couple deserved to have kids? We started trying about a year after our honeymoon and kept trying for more than 10 years.


**How much do you love me, Kate? 😛

***EMD Serono, a Massachusetts-based maker of fertility drugs, sponsors the Increase Your Chances campaign)


Related Links:

TLC’s “A Conception Story

NYTimes Article

Increase Your Chances Website

The Statesman Article (Austin Newspaper)

Salon e-News & Entertainment Article