Infertility and EXTREMES

So. You might have heard that Ricki Lake tackled the topic of infertility on her show today. Here’s how it was advertised: “Ricki explores infertility to expose the extremes that couples go through to conceive.”

Keiko sums up the show very well, here.

Media seems to like to pair the word infertility with another word: extreme. So much mainstream media coverage focuses on the outliers, the 1% of all infertility cases: the woman who uses her 60 year-old mother as a surrogate, the oldest woman in the US to give birth to twins, the woman who swam in the fertile waters of Bhutan and was suddenly pregnant in her 40s.

These cases are not the norm. Why is the media afraid to explore the norm?

1 in 8 people in the U.S. suffer from infertility. That’s 7.3 million people in this country. People who suffer from infertility are your neighbor, your friend’s sister, your aunt. Maybe even you. What’s worse? No one talks about infertility, or if they do, they use hurtful phrases like “Just relax” (advice proven not effective in studies, by the way) or “Just adopt,” which is a time-consuming, very expensive process with no guarantees.

The word “extreme” is not one I identify with.

Words that I personally felt while dealing with infertility?

Sad.

Devastated.

Hopeless.

Marginalized.

Misunderstood.

Sad. (It’s worth saying again.)

The problem is, of course, that by only hearing about the extremes via the media, the general public’s lack of awareness of how devastating this disease is increases. (The World Health Organization classifies infertility as a disease. Who knows this? Not many people.) And friends and neighbors and relatives continue to suffer in silence and be misunderstood.

Because I felt that infertility was something not accurately by the media, I started my own series of articles called “Faces of Adoption/Loss/Infertility. To represent the 1 in 8 who can’t afford treatments or adoption and/or go through multiple losses: who lose their children too early. I did this to make others feel less alone.

To read and listen to these stories, please go here.

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23 Comments

Filed under Faces of ALI, Infertility

23 responses to “Infertility and EXTREMES

  1. That’s right lady I was desperate and obsessed and crazy. So what? I look at my gorgeous daughter and it was worth it. Why WHY are those that desperately want children always portrayed in a negative light?

  2. For an individual’s mental health alone, you’d think insurance companies would help cover the cost of reproductive procedures…

    • The rate of depression among those going through infertility is the same as those who are suffering from cancer. I don’t like to compare the two, but it’s important to know how devastating this disease is.

  3. Your proposed taglines are genius. Genius! Just curious, excluding the NYT, do you think print media does a better job w/infertility than TV & film media? I have my own thoughts but would be curious to hear yours.

  4. Redbook had an amazing series this year called the Truth About Trying. I think BlogHer has done a great job of featuring bloggers going through infertility, adoption and loss. So, there’s two!

    • Also, Babble includes infertility and adoption in their Top Pregnancy Blogs list, which is pretty cool.

      • NYT being the exception here, for some reason, I feel like print media more often gets it right… and I don’t know why that is, it’s just a gut feeling. I’m thinking I might need to parse this out on my blog in the coming weeks. What do you think?

  5. Esperanza

    “Sad. (It’s worth saying again.)” Actually it’s worth repeating a million times. Truly. Because sad doesn’t even begin to describe it. And if you multiple side by a bazillion, that doesn’t scratch the surface either.

    Thank you for bringing attention to the disparate coverage of IF by major media. This kind of coverage is not only irresponsible but incredibly destructive. It’s destructive to the people who suffer IF and to the people who have relationships with friends and family who suffer with IF. It hurts EVERYONE because everyone knows someone who deals with infertility and if their understanding comes from the extreme cases shown by the media, both the infertiles who are further misunderstood and the “fertiles” who damage their relationships with their infertile friends and family suffer irreparable damage. It’s just unconscionable.

    Your Faces of ALI posts are so important for EVERYONE to read. They show the world what Adoption, Loss and Infertility REALLY look like. They give people an opportunity to learn how and why they should show empathy towards those who struggle with infertility. Your series tells people the real truth of the matter. And that is so immeasurably important.

  6. such a wonderful series it is. and it does far more justice to raising awareness of infertility and loss than traditional mainstream coverage, which seems only to marginalize infertile men and women even further.

  7. I didn’t see this and I’m glad I didn’t. :p I agree with Keiko, I think the print & online media do a better job overall of covering infertility than broadcast… there are not always the same limitations of space/time, a little more room for background & analysis & subtlety and nuance. I even think the NYT articles are pretty researched & well-written, for the most part — but they do tend to focus on the more extreme cases.

  8. Mel

    Three cheers to this. Fantastic post — and so so so true. Where are the stories about the average infertile person in the media?

  9. I want to thank you for putting this out there because it is so true. There is nothing extreme about what 99% of us do to get our children.

    One thing to clarify, when you say, “People who suffer from infertility are your neighbor, your friend’s sister, your aunt. Maybe even you,” I just want to point out that it could also be your brother, husband, etc. Infertility is not just a woman’s issue and this point is near and dear to me given that we suffer from severe MFI. The media and all of us need to start including men in these statemements.

    • SRB

      Thank you for adding this. Men have a near equal diagnostic rate as women as being the infertile partner, with *both* partners being diagnosed coming in very closely as well. I wish more men talked about this – I wish I knew how to foster *that* dialogue. It is sorely missing and vitally important. Infertility is NOT a women’s issue – it is a human issue.

  10. And angry, determined and resilient. I’d love to see more “average” ALI stories get coverage.

  11. I hate that the media focuses on the extreme cases and I love this post!

  12. When it comes to adoption, besides being time consuming, expensive and not always a guarantee….it simply is not a path some people want to take. It’s difficult and you have to deal with life-altering decisions forever. “Just adopt” drives me up the wall and I’m an adoptive parent!

    Thanks for schooling mainstream media once again. :)

  13. EXtreme? With so many singles and couples seeking assistance to build their families, infertility has practically gone MAINstream!

    So glad you are putting out real faces of real and normal people who face the real and devastating condition of wanting to build families but having difficulty doing so.

  14. I read Keiko’s synopsis of the Ricky Lake show and my head was spinning. As taboo as infertility is, it still amazes me that we are continually reduced to being “freaks” and it is assumed all of this is a result of lifestyle choses. As I told Keiko, if the media portrayed any other disease in this manner (cancer, Alzeheimer’s, diabetes, etc), there would be such a global uproar and push-back. Yet this community is considered the exception; that we somehow deserve this pain.

    The Faces of ALI is one of the first real portrayals of adoption, loss and infertility. Instead of painting us as crazy freaks, it adds the human element and shows that this disease touches so many people: our neighbors, our friends and even our loved ones. In combination with some amazing bloggers, it illustrates that there is no shame in living with this. Pain, yes, but no shame. And that is a truth that more people need to realize.

  15. SRB

    I would also add words from my experience like demoralized, humiliated, abandoned, worthless, and SAD. Because sad needs to on the list again.

  16. Pingback: news item: Giuliana Rancic on infertility at age 35 – “It was a big shock” – PAIL Bloggers

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