In spite of a warning from a Facebook status message yesterday I watched Grey’s Anatomy last night, a special two-hour episode to set up a spin-off featuring Dr. Addison Montgomery moving to LA to work in a quirky medical clinic (as if there is there any other kind). I’m not sure why my Facebook friend described the show as terrible — so many possible reasons: bad writing, bad acting, lack of humour, dearth of interesting medical cases — but what depressed me about the show is that the key turning point in the story was 38-year-old Shepherd’s inability to conceive.
Forgive me if I’m not finding this particularly entertaining. For years I’ve gone through the fertility rollercoaster with friends, younger ones and old. The friend who at 30 stopped drinking alcohol or coffee and constantly used the phrase “tick-tock” to describe the urgency of having a baby at 30 (an urgency that affected her but that I, apparently, was not to worry about). Eventually, marriage slightly worse for wear, and bad habits resumed, she promptly conceived.
Another friend, under, then over the mighty 35 barrier, has been trying to conceive since I met her in 2002, with a single-mindedness that I only kind of understand. Expensive and invasive fertility treatments all failed, but were succeeded only recently by an entirely natural and healthy pregnancy she’d been warned could never happen.
Grey’s Anatomy’s Addison’s whole life is about to change because she’s no longer fertile — in fact, she’s going to give up her position at a teaching hospital and move to L.A. No one I know has given up so easily — in fact, no one’s given up at all, tossing aside career progression and threatening relationships in their determination to create their VERY OWN baby. What’s depressing about the story line in Grey’s Anatomy is that it’s the usual “I was so busy with my career, I forgot to have kids” meme that is presumed to be the reason why any and all older women leave baby planning until later. What about women who were, like me, single through many of the prime child-bearing years? What about women whose partners aren’t willing to devote time to parenting until they’re slightly older? What about women who try to conceive at the “right time” but have no success and are discouraged from trying any treatments because they’re young and healthy? Which is supposed to come first, a relationship or the single-minded determination to bear a child? Is it even healthy to have the second without the first? Is it better to meet a willing baby-daddy through the internet and make it work than meet someone with whom you only gradually realize you want to father your children? Somehow these stories never really seem to get dramatized — it’s always just blithe neglect by career-minded women.
Given the number of questions, you’d think they’d come up from time to time, instead of the moronic idea that any woman anywhere is capable of ignoring the non-stop scaremongering about diminishing egg counts and narrow windows. I hear with dread this morning that next week’s Metro Morning will have a full week of special programming on infertility in Toronto. Cheerful title: Against the Odds. Good morning!