Fact vs. Fiction

November 6th, 2006

Yes, we’re still here. We’re still alive and still trying to save and earn our IVF money. I can’t tell you how totally shocked I am that a month has passed since I last posted. I’m equally shocked that October came and went about as fast as a pizza does in this house. Please accept my apology for leaving everyone out there just hanging.

Since the start of the fall TV season, I’ve become quite a fan of the new show Brothers & Sisters. It follows Desperate Housewives Sundays on ABC. We don’t watch a terrible amount of TV, it’s something we try hard to limit. That’s why we’re cheap and pay for the $12/mo cable!

If you don’t follow the show, it’s about a large, close-knit family in LA who recently lost the father (Tom Skerritt). The mom (Sally Field) manages to keep the family together, all adult children who have a variety of successful careers, some married, one couple with children. A few of the kids work to manage the family’s fruit business which their father left in a huge financial mess. That’s the short and sweet of it, just to give some background.

One of the siblings/couples, Tommy and his wife Julia, have been trying to conceive for sometime. They are probably in their late 20s to early 30s. A cute, successful, fun-loving couple. In last week’s episode, they show Tommy visiting his doctor and getting the results of a sperm sample he gave. He went in on his own, unbeknownst to his wife, to find out if there was a problem. The doctor reveals that Tommy’s sperm count was zero and that he is sterile. Tommy is of course devestated. By the end of the show he tells his wife who proclaims that she doesn’t care, it’s not his fault and that with or without children she’ll always love him. This is really similar to the reaction I had. By the way, I’m totally bawling my eyes out during this entire episode.

The episode that aired last night shows them visiting a sperm bank to get donor sperm. Tommy freaks out about having someone else’s sperm inside Julia and says that he wants a baby that is from his blood… as we all do. The show moves on to show him asking his brother, Kevin, if he would be willing to donate. I start bawling, again! (We received an email from a reader who told us that after many years of unsuccessful attempts, his wife’s sister donated an egg. They now have a beautiful little boy!!) By the end of the show, Kevin and another brother, Justin, both donate sperm and everyone agrees to keep it confidential so no one will ever know who the bio-dad is.

I like the story line and I’m so glad that they’ve brought the subject of infertilty into mainstream, primetime television. It’s an issue that can always use as much attention as it can get. My only frustration is how far from the truth a lot of this, and while this would be an opportunity to educate people about a subject that is so hush and most people know very little about, it’s just going to help people who don’t understand infertility to understand it less. Our society is ignorant to infertility. Now, before my inbox fills with hate mail, let me clarify. Ignorance just means you have a lack of information or you’re not educated in a subject. Six months ago, I couldn’t have carried on a conversation with anyone about IVF and infertility, because I was ignorant. I would hope that sites like ours and TV shows can help educate the general public, but much of the story line is far from true.

Tommy wouldn’t have had just one trip to the “Squirt Cup”, as I like to call it!! He would have had several exams and tests to confirm that he is sterile.

He and Julia would have visited with their doctor, read up on the subject and their options and come to terms emotionally with the diagnosis- all of which takes a lot of time.

Per my previous statement, they would have never ended up at the sperm bank so quickly.

As we’re all aware, the process is unbelievably expensive. They would have had to work out the finances.

Asking his brothers to donate and having them do so so quickly seems far-fetched as well.

I could nit-pick the storyline to death. I know it’s fiction and I know for the sake of keeping the story moving it has to, well, keep moving. And hanging up on the details of what real IVFers are living would bore the viewers to tears. Unfortunately, it is a very real story for Shelton and I, and for so many of us. I remember when Monica and Chandler on Friends were going through their adoption and how fast the process seemed and how they so effortlessly found a baby. I didn’t even really know about all this infertility business back then and I knew that wasn’t right. And my heart went out to so many couples who have tried for years and spent thousands of dollars and had no success, couples I know personally. How frustrating that must have been to watch- again, filling society with misinformation that doesn’t educate.

Like I said, I’m excited to see this subject in primetime. I hope it at least peaks curiosity in people and they try to learn more… try to learn the truth. What an opportunity to showcase the financial hardship that infertility brings and gain momentum for insurance coverage. But that’s a boat that’s probably been missed.