Thursday, April 28, 2011

Infertility in the Media

The way that infertility is treated in the media has been on my mind a lot lately.  Two of my favorite tv shows are Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill (yes, I have a strong tomboy streak, but I also have a strong girly-girl streak).  One Tree Hill has had a storyline about Brooke being infertile for several seasons now, involving her interest in adoption and the effects of her infertility on her relationship with Julian.  The infertility storyline involving Meredith and Derek on Grey's is a lot more recent but has been a lot more powerful for me.

With both shows, the infertility was initially handled as a cut and dried matter.  Brooke was told that she was not pregnant and that in fact she never would be able to become pregnant.  After having a miscarriage, Meredith was told that she has a "hostile uterus."  Treatments were recommended for Meredith, but not for Brooke; in both cases, a real diagnosis was never given.  All in all, the two shows addressed both the mechanics and the reactions related to an infertility diagnosis in a very superficial way.

As the current season progressed, the Grey's writers began handling the topic of Meredith's infertility more deftly.  Both Meredith and Brooke had to cope with having pregnant friends, but Meredith's reactions have seemed a lot more real and likely from what I've experienced and others that I know have experienced.  I was crying during the following clip because it covered so well how I've felt in many situations: jealous, frustrated, not understanding why others can end up by mistake with what we work so hard for, but still caring about the person and not wanting anything to happen to the person.

The part where Meredith attended Callie's baby shower also felt very real and well-done.  I haven't had to do onesie decorating at any showers, but I'm really glad that at work it was the shower I could stay the whole time for that had no games and the one I had clients to see in the middle of that had cutesy games. 

Another thing that rang true for me with Grey's this season was Meredith's reaction to having to stop the cycle of injectible medications because of a side effect of blurred vision.  Most of us aren't likely to be in quite that situation, but almost all of us have had to stop treatments or stop trying for a cycle, whether because of problems with the treatment, inability to afford treatment, or other life factors making it impossible to try for a month.  Having to stop a cycle for any reason is extremely hard, and it's even worse when it's a cycle where you went through a lot to try.  The acupuncture I was doing last summer is nowhere near as bad as getting shots, I'm sure, but I'm bad enough with needles that it was still very hard both physically and emotionally for me.  Having to stop in the middle of a cycle felt like a waste of everything DH and I had put ourselves through to make it happen.

At this point, Grey's is hard to watch, but it's not as hard when they treat the subject as seriously as it deserves to be treated.  I just hope the thing between Christina and Owen on whether or not to have kids doesn't come back up.  Given the content of some of my posts from January, that storyline had me wondering whether I would be able to watch the rest of the season or not.


  1. I haven't watched Grey's in like 3 years. Jason will kill me if I add another girly show to the Tivo (Glee nearly sent him over the edge). Not sure I could handle Grey's right now with the IF storyline....

  2. If I wasn't already fully addicted to Grey's, I couldn't stand to start watching (again), not this season.

    The crazy thing in my house is that, while I watch ESPN a lot (especially when someone's beating Clemson! ;-)), DH likes to watch girly stuff with me, too. He watches Grey's and Private Practice, and we're both addicted to the CW...One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Hellcats, Life Unexpected, Gilmore Girls when it was on. It surprised me at first how much into chick stuff he is for a straight guy.