Archive for January, 2009
January 7, 2009 | By: Liz
So my rant about Hollywood actresses now out of my system, I have decided to undertake a new project. I am going to start surveying (and my DH has agreed to assist me and provide his input) as many movies, books and other media stories about infertility and adoption. I want honesty in this industry, so I want to see how honest and/or accurate Hollywood, the press, and authors are about infertility and adoption. I love Adoptive Families’ Magazine’s Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down column. I loved reading about gestational surrogacy on the front page of The New York Times Magazine. But I want to see more about how people are addressing it.
I recently came across a book entitled “Motherhood after Age 35” at an adoption conference I spoke at. I was curious. It seems so common these days for women to have children after the age of 35, why write a book about it? What’s different about being a mother after Age 35? I’m going to find out.
I went online on the internet movie database and compiled a preliminary list of movies about infertility and adoption. The movie Juno was awesome, how many others are as accurate or sensitive? I noticed that one of my favorite new books Knit Two by Kate Jacobs has a sub-plot dealing with infertility. The Discovery Channel has a show on adoption: Adoption Stories (hey why are there no infertility stories? There are a dozen shows on having babies but why aren’t their any on infertility?)
And so I begin. Tonight my DH and I are watching a movie entitled A Smile Like Yours starring Greg Kinnear and Lauren Holly. I have also purchased Miss. Conception starring Heather Graham. These are just a few of what I suspect will be a very long list of movies and books. I am hoping I will be pleasantly surprised. I also am hoping that I will get to spend some quality time with DH and get some good reading in.
I will post my reviews under a new category (Infertility In The Movies etc. under the Check This Out Blog category) and I welcome feedback and suggestions for other titles to watch/read. Maybe I’ll add a suggested reading/viewing list to The Two Week Wait Care Package
We shall see . . . .
Filed under: I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman
January 7, 2009 | By: Liz
I have been thinking a lot about my Angry Infertile Woman thing. Someone recently suggested to me that it wasn’t very professional. I don’t care. I am a very good lawyer and I am also a human being who is and always will be infertile. I want more children and I face obstacles both physical and financial to that goal. My clients don’t hear me rant about being angry about how infertility is treated in the news media and in Hollywood (unless they mention it). This is my only outlet and forum for letting people know when I think something is whacked. My clients get what they pay me for, good legal advice and a soft shoulder to cry on if they need it (no extra charge for that service either). Right now I need to vent.
I think that the news media and Hollywood do NOT understand infertility or adoption at ALL (this thought is discussed in a separate post)! And I am sick to death of all these Hollywood actresses who get pregnant with twins in their forties (or even late thirties) and are NOT honest about how they conceived those children. Remember I was proud of Brooke Shields not too long ago (by the way, did VW pull those advertisements? I haven’t seen them in a while. Has anyone seen one??) because she was honest that she went through IVF.
I have a list the length of my arm of actresses that I either have reason to know or have reason to be suspicious (deeply suspicious) that they used some form of assisted reproduction. Let’s take Jennifer Lopez as an example. I don’t know her, never represented her, I don’t know her from a hole in the wall. She is, however, someone I admire. But I don’t believe for a nano-second that she conceived her twins miraculously from old fashioned intercourse after three years of TTC on her own. That is BS. Just the way People Magazine spun those babies’ delivery, with quotes from the doctor about how much the babies’ look like Marc Anthony as they were being pulled from Jennifer’s uterus during a C-Section, raised my eyebrows. It was like they were setting the stage for people to expect the babies NOT to look like Jennifer. It struck me as such an odd comment. Three years of TTC, then pregnant with twins who look amazingly like their father but are never compared to their mother’s absolutely gorgeous face: Who wants to bet she used an egg donor??? Or at the very least went through IVF? Again, I have no personal knowledge, these are just my suspicions. But this wonderful singer and actress who is a phenomenal role model, well doesn’t she owe women in their twenties and thirties some honesty? That waiting to get pregnant makes it harder to get pregnant. That maybe she needed help beyond that provided by something divine (and you know I believe in the Divine).
Let’s consider the statistics. I deal with them every day with my clients. I face them when I consider having more children in my mid-forties. It is statistically, if not virtually impossible to conceive twins (even using IVF) at or above the age of 44 using your own gametes (eggs). It is extraordinarily hard (although possible) to conceive twins using your own eggs at age 40. You would likely need IVF to do have twins at age 40. I’m not saying it’s not possible to conceive twins at age 40 the old-fashioned way; it’s just not really something that happens very often. Certainly not as often as it seems to happen when you live in Hollywood. And it is very hard when you’re even say Jennifer Aniston’s age, she’s 38 or 39 right? (and btw, Jennifer is my favorite actress in Hollywood and I see many reports in the media that she may be trying to have a baby, I LOVE her and would love to see her become a mother – not to mention the fact that her mother is responsible for me being with my husband today, so I have some additional fondness for her family. And No, I DO NOT KNOW Jennifer Aniston and I haven’t seen or spoken to her mother since 1988, so nothing in this blog should be construed as validating any tabloid report).
Statistically, at least some of (if not the majority of) these actresses used some form of ART to get pregnant. So, let’s assume for purposes of this blog that they did conceive, especially those with twins, with the assistance of ART. Now let’s assume they also were honest about that fact . . . what’s the downside?
My point is this: Maybe the knowledge that so many public figures struggle to conceive children and that it is just plain harder to conceive a child after age 35, would HELP someone! Hollywood seems to be on the “helping others” bandwagon. Angelina Jolie (okay bad example in a rant on infertility, although she is an adoptive mother) travels to war torn countries to bring attention to them. Brad Pitt raises awareness and helps Katrina victims. Who do we have in Hollywood standing up for the fight against infertility and explaining it being honest about it? It’s a devastating disease. RESOLVE has a spokesperson who is a former playboy model. I believe she used a gestational carrier. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think one person is enough. Is it enough for just Angelina Jolie to be travelling to Africa, of course not. The more media attention focused on an issue, the more stars involved, the more awareness is raised. I was thinking about this issue while listening to a Christmas song, We Are The World (is that the title?). Half of the world’s most famous recording artists came together to raise money and awareness for AIDS and AIDS victims in Africa. That song is being played every five minutes on the radio every Holiday Season twenty years after it was recorded. Why does infertility get such little attention?
So let’s just say that Hollywood actresses were honest? What would happen? Maybe, eventually, people would start paying attention to their reproductive health? Maybe they wouldn’t wait as long to have children? (I am not advocating rushing to have children before you’re ready, I just don’t think enough people understand that it really and truly gets harder the older you get and the first big age landmine is 35). Or maybe fewer people would feel alone or ashamed. If Hollywood actresses are ashamed to admit to their infertility then isn’t that sending the message that infertility is something to be ashamed of?
Let’s assume for a moment that some of these women sought the generous services of an egg donor, as I suspect they did. I understand that is private information and the intimate details of their personal life. They may even have an anonymity provision in their agreement with their egg donor (again, assuming they used one). But don’t they have to rise to some higher moral authority because of their status as celebrities? How many women are misled everyday because they see these gorgeous women in their forties giving birth to TWINS! At least Marcia Cross admitted she used IVF (although I do wonder if she really hit the genetic jack pot or whether she used a donor, alas I will never know).
Please people. Do a service to the young women in this country who have no clue what it means to WAIT to conceive a baby. Our ovaries do not join us on the treadmill nor do they benefit from Botox. Not to mention the fact that everyone in Hollywood can easily afford IVF and egg donors and gestational carriers when the rest of us are worried about our mortgage payments. Let’s be real.
I want some honesty out there. I want someone to come clean. Alexis Stewart (Martha Stewart’s daughter) is spending millions of dollars trying to raise awareness about what happens when you wait to conceive a baby. While I don’t agree that egg banking is a medically recommended procedure for every Jane Doe, I agree with her message. And I think that if women in Hollywood would just be honest, that maybe Alexis wouldn’t have to spend so much money and I wouldn’t be so pissed off everytime I see some 40-something starlet showing off her babies in People Magazine. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see a little honesty in those baby announcements in People Magazine.
to be continued . . . .
Filed under: I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman
January 7, 2009 | By: Liz
I have frequently told this story — and heard others tell it as well (and perhaps better than I do) — about how the journey through infertility and adoption “perfects” itself. I must talk to at least one client each week and share this story. Someone suggested a long time ago that I should blog about it. I haven’t been able to because it seems like such an emotional and private story. I share it with people who are going through trying times; my way of giving them a pep-talk. One that I know has worked from the letters people have sent me after they finally got their baby and realized the perfection story isn’t just a pep talk. But I seriously have been blocked about writing this blog. Maybe I am afraid I can’t do it justice in print? There is something intangible in the story that needs to be adapted to each person’s own journey which I can do when I know what YOU are going through; and I hope that as you read this that you can find that piece that resonates for you, as I do not know what each of you are going through or what your friends or family members may be experiencing.
I am a spiritual person. Of that I am certain, and I have always believed that everything happens in the perfect time and the perfect way. I didn’t like the time and the way my motherhood came to be, at first. But then things started happening that made me realize it all really does have meaning, and that the process of going through infertility treatment or adoption does “perfect itself.” That is, at the end of the day when you are pacing the floor of your home holding your beautiful, screaming baby, you realize in a moment of complete and utter clarity, that everything you went through . . . every needle, every sonogram, every miscarriage, every failed donor cycle, every failed donor or surrogate or birth mother match, needed to happen for you to be holding
THIS child in YOUR arms in THIS moment.
And you realize that you wouldn’t change one needle, one miscarriage, or one failed match if it meant that you wouldn’t be holding
THIS child in YOUR arms in THIS moment.
The process isn’t fun. Understatement of the century. It is often frought with too many setbacks, financial hardships, lengthy and unwanted delays. And for each and every one of you wrestling with the process of trying to become a parent you have my heart and soul there with you. I KNOW. I really know. 7 attempted IVF cycles, 5 IVF miscarriages, 3 miscarriages on my own, two failed adoption placements (one of which occurred several days after we brought our son home). But I also wouldn’t trade any of that, or re-do a single moment or a single injection (and I am beyond horrified of needles) because without everyone of those awful moments I wouldn’t have my two beautiful babies. I wouldn’t have my daughter if my second son hadn’t gone back to his birth mother. A day without my daughter in it . . . is NOT what the Universe intended for me. I don’t understand why it had to be so hard. I know I have an amazing new career (from which I am gradually digging my family out of the debt we incurred from all those attempts at becoming a family) and I get to help people have babies and build families every day. That is perfection at work too.
But what really shows me that everything that happens in the perfect time and the perfect way and that the journey is truly perfect . . . is that my husband and I were blessed with the unexpected gift of knowledge that our oldest child, whom we adopted, was conceived on THE day that I chose to become an adoptive mother. I am not kidding or exaggerating. There are details I cannot share because they are private pieces of my son’s life (and I think we’ll all agree that I have “outed” my family in my books, so you’ll understand that I want to preserve sacred pieces of his adoption story for my son), but there was a very specific day in time that I chose to adopt. The world shifted on its axis that day and I realized I wanted to be a mother more than I needed to be pregnant and so when my husband came home that night, I told him I would follow him on his desired path, to become an adoptive father. The following day I submitted our application to an adoption agency.
A little over a year later, we learned rather coincidentally (thank god for science) that our son was conceived on the day I agreed to become an adoptive mother. That information showed me, with scientific proof, that everything does happen for a reason and that everything that comes before isn’t meaningless. It is perfect.
You may not have your baby yet (you may choose not to have a baby), and I can’t promise you what will happen today or tomorrow. I can’t promise you that you’re donor is going to pass her screening, or your carrier will get pregnant, that your birth mother will sign her relinquishment forms, or that you will make peace and move on to something different. But I can promise you that when you get there, you too will know in your heart that “but for” everything that came before, you wouldn’t be in this wonderful place now.
And you wouldn’t change a thing.
Filed under: Thinking Out Loud