Hey, look, I’m back! Sorry for the long layoff – just after getting things going – but Ms. Swimmin and I just moved, which was a huge process and during which we had but sporadic access to the internet. So it’s been a while, as Jim Anchower of the Onion would say, since I rapped atcha, but here we are. Sorry also to those of you whose comments on previous posts got hung up in the moderation queue while the move was happening. Things got kinda hairy for a while there.
Last time out, I talked some about an unexpected reaction to a movie advertisement. Unexpected reactions abound these days. Had dinner with my parents (in order to pick up my Dad’s truck to facilitate loading all of our boxes and furniture into the big truck) a couple of weeks ago, and the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother came on. Which, of course, had a subplot about Marshall and Lily trying to get pregnant and Lily explaining to Marshall that things might not happen the way they expect. This mere days after we finally told my parents at least a bit of what was going on with our own efforts to get pregnant. So…yeah, that was awkward. Followed by some other show that we turned off really quickly that began with two characters saying to another, “Thank you so much for agreeing to be our surrogate…” Oy. It never ends. One thing that is guaranteed about television and the movies: nobody who wants to be pregnant will accomplish it easily; anybody who doesn’t want to be pregnant will get knocked up at the drop of a hat.
Another unexpected reaction came the other day while listening to NPR news in the car. They were doing several stories related Robert Edwards, the developer of in vitro fertilization, winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine. And one of their interview subjects, Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, author of a book about the history of pregnancy and childbirth called Get Me Out, said: “Everything we do is considered horrible and weird and scary. And then when it works, because so many couples are desperate to have a baby, we just go with it.”
What an idiotic and thoughtless comment.
We’re “desperate to have a baby?” Desperate? Really?
Look, I know it doesn’t really mean anything, and I know she wasn’t trying to be offensive. It just struck me as really thoughtless. When I think of desperation, I don’t think of infertile couples. Desperation, to me, is the gambler at the horse track putting his last three bucks on a long-shot Superfecta bet as his only chance to make the rent. Desperation is a drug addict who’ll do anything for a fix. Desperation is entirely negative. To be desperate, to experience desperation is related, linguistically, to “despair,” and that’s one thing I just can’t let myself feel.
I don’t despair. I don’t feel, to borrow the Oxford American Dictionary definition, “the complete loss or absence of hope.” Hope is the one thing we’ve got going for us.
I hope that the Magic Beans I’m taking help kick things into gear. I hope, failing that, that we are able to find a way to afford the financial aspect and weather the physical and emotional turmoil of IVF. I hope that, when we do IVF, it works and Ms. Swimmin finds herself pregnant. I hope that she gives birth to a beautiful and healthy baby. But I don’t despair. I don’t lose hope because right now, hope is all I’ve got.
To lump those of us who find getting pregnant to be a medical process in with gamblers and alcoholics and junkies and such is just plain thoughtless. Better to say, “…because so many couples who can’t get pregnant the old-fashioned way are still hoping to have a baby…” or, “…so many couples are dealing with infertility and are always looking for anything that will improve their chances of getting pregnant…” or just about anything, really. Any way of saying, “in vitro fertilization is an amazing thing that is responsible for eight million parents getting something they want more than anything else in the world” that doesn’t make infertile couples sound like junkies on the prowl for a fix.
It’s a small thing, and like I said, I’m sure Dr. Whosiwhatsis meant no offense. But it stuck in my craw. And I don’t like hearing something that is as close as possible to a genuine miracle without actually being one discussed in such negative and dismissive terminology.
On a related note, there’s this utterly moronic, idiotic, facile, stupid, and blatantly offensive piece from Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today, pure twaddle of the highest order. To borrow a line from Billy Madison, Ms. Grossman, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent column were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
To cleanse yourself after reading such idiocy, I recommend PZ Meyers’ response, especially:
And it’s incredibly offensive to go further and suggest that the parents of these children, who have gone to extraordinary expense and trouble to conceive, are mere “shoppers”, as if people who get pregnant in a casual evening’s rut are somehow necessarily conscientious ethical philosophers and serious about their children, while someone who sinks $10,000+ dollars into invasive medical procedures and subjects their body to a few months of stressful hormonal treatments must be getting pregnant on impulse.
Thank you, PZ Meyers, for saying what we’re all thinking.