Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Did y'all see the Oprah show yesterday (Tuesday) about infertility???? I tivo'd it and watched it last night. I was prepared to get riled up, based on what happened when our friend Jenna, bless her heart, was on last time.

But geeeeez, what a train wreck!! I found both segments to be TOTALLY infuriating. What an unbelievable dearth of detailed information!

The first segment was about a couple who went to India to hire a surrogate. The issue the show concentrated on was whether this cottage industry of surrogate Indian women having babies for white American women constitutes exploitation. The facts: cost of hiring a surrogate in the US: upwards of $80K; cost of hiring a surrogate in India: ~$12K (presumably not including travel expenses); amount of money received by Indian surrogate mother (which is purportedly more than most women earn over their lifetime): ~$6-$7K. Oprah stated that in her opinion this was not exploitation but rather women helping other women across the world - the American woman gets what she most desperately desires and otherwise could not afford to pay for in the US, a biological baby. The Indian woman receives what amounts to nothing short of a transformative amount of money - enough to drastically improve her family's living conditions, quality of life, and to ensure a bright future for her children by providing them with higher education. Personally, I agree with Oprah on this one, but can nevertheless understand the controversy.

However, there was absolutely NO background given about the American couple and exactly what their specific infertility diagnosis was. They merely stated that they had been "trying" for 3 years, and had spent a total of ~$30K so far. This is troubling because I believe it's a common misconception (no pun intended) that surrogacy is a widespread solution to general infertility. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

As I was watching, I longed for the couple to share more about their personal experience - what was their diagnosis? Why did their doctor believe that surrogacy would be a viable option for them? What treatments had they tried and failed previously? There were no details given about this. I was trying to imagine that I was still a smug, ignorant, not-yet-trying-to-get-pregnant-and-so-have-no-clue-of-what-could-go-wrong woman. What might I take away from the segment? That even if I eventually discovered I was having trouble getting pregnant, that there was no need to worry, bc I could always get a cheap surrogate in India. Not to be too crass, but that might very well have been the main take-away from that whole piece for some people!

So, as if that part of the show wasn't bad enough, the next segment was an interview with Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha. Now, I'm not a fan of Alexis' anyway, just based on listening to her awful radio show on her mother's Sirius channel. At least from her radio persona, she comes across as a spoiled, foul-mouthed, ill-mannered brat of grown woman. Not completely surprising, given who she is, imho.

However, I'll start with the positive: Alexis did make a good point in the top of the segment as to the illusion that celebrities create by having children late in life, and that this creates this false sense of security for women, as in, "Hey, Halle Barry can have a baby in her 40's, so I don't even need to start worrying about my own 'biological clock' until my late 30's at the earliest! If celebrities can do it, anyone can! Great!" I totally agree with Alexis on that point, and also that it is really frustrating that celebrities won't own up to the fact that they are using some type of assisted reproductive technology in order to have these child bearing successes so much later in their lives. No one ever admits to using donor eggs, which perpetuates the myth that one's own fertility can and will remain viable into the 40's and even 50's. This lack of acknowledgement on the part of those in the public eye is only continuing to contribute to the shame and pain of the infertility struggle that affects so many of us today. So, Alexis hit the nail on the head with that, as far as I'm concerned.

BUT, what struck me about the rest of her interview was how very misinformed she herself is - even after having undergone a year of infertility treatment. How is this even possible? I myself feel like I could sign up at the nearest med school and teach a fucking class on reproductive endocrinology. After the first year of this shit, I was intimately familiar with the menstrual cycle - the terms used to describe the process, what they meant, the length of each part of the cycle, all the hormones involved, the possible drugs that could assist and what effect they had on the cycle, not to mention all the terminology used to describe my husband's part of the deal, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

So when Alexis picked up a Lupron needle and said, "So, you take this for the first 2 or 3 days of the month, and it's very painless, and you take this drug to prevent endometriosis.", I wanted to jump through the TV screen. Are you kidding me???!! But my first issue with her comments are that she also didn't share any details of what particular infertility diagnosis she was struggling with. She didn't even say that she was undergoing IVF. Rather, she said that she spends $28K per month on her infertility treatments. As anyone who has ever undergone any type of ART knows, it's physically impossible to complete one IVF cycle EVERY SINGLE MONTH. So all I can think is that her doctor is robbing her blind because she's the daughter of a very, very rich woman. Whatever.

That doesn't bother me nearly as much as the misinformation she was spouting. How about this one: "Yes, so at my age, you tend not to grow very many eggs, so you have to take these drugs in order to stimulate egg production.", or this one, "Over the course of this year I've had around 5 or 6 eggs implanted in me, but none of them have stuck.", or even this: "Well, at a certain point if all of this doesn't work, I guess I'll have to look into egg surrogacy."

I know that all of these miscues when taken alone might not seem like a big deal, but it REALLY, REALLY bothered me that she didn't seem to even care that she wasn't being accurate. I think that there is such a lack of real information out there in the spotlight on infertility, and I really feel like Alexis Stewart should have felt more of a responsibility to educate the millions of viewers of the Oprah show with real and accurate information on her struggle. I think Oprah (her producers) bear a part of that obligation as well. I feel like everyone involved with that show fell woefully short of their obligation and responsibility.

I for one, would much rather hear (see) an interview with a well-informed, prepared-with-details non-celebrity regular old person struggling with this problem - like you or me - than a celebrity who was either unprepared and ill-informed, or perhaps not even willing to share the critical details that define this experience.

To be candid, the whole show just made me angry. It barely, barely even scratched the surface of this complex and seemingly epidemic struggle that impacts more and more women and couples across the world every day. I'm really disappointed.

But, what did y'all think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Three Years

Happy 3rd Anniversary, baby! My dearest darling, my big strong handsome man, my strength and solace. Three whole years we've been married, and I still wake up every morning excited to spend the rest of my life by your side. I love you more than all the stars in the skies and more than all the fishes in the sea. Here's hoping that this will prove to be "our" year, and we'll finally make our dreams come true, together. I love you!

****Our actual anniversary was yesterday, but for some reason I couldn't get this post to go through yesterday.....