Rage Against the Media Machine

Ok, I think I can see straight again.  Maybe.  I mean, the twitching has died down for the most part, the pulsing veins have receded from my temple, and I can hold my hands steady enough to at least type these sentences.   Yes, big improvement.

So, did you all see this little gem that hit the airwaves yesterday?  When I saw the title, “Double the Trouble: My wife’s expecting twins — and I’m not happy about it” my infertile spidey senses started tingling and told me in no uncertain terms, “Look away!!!”  How I wish I had listened.  Instead, I read as this future dad-of-the-year wrote of their first IVF cycle,

Thankfully, we nailed it on the first try. But while we were hoping for one girl, instead we got two boys. My initial reaction was full of disappointment, anger, fear, and guilt. My wife, who had been dreading the possibility of twins for weeks, took it worse. In her mind, this was her fault, since she’d encouraged the fertility doctors to put in two embryos to stack the deck.

Wait, what?  OMFG, WHAT?  You did IVF, made the decision to put back two embryos, and you’re pissed you’re having twins.  And nasty little boy twins at that?  Someone bring me vodka and a hammer so I can dull this overwhelming rage.  (Vodka’s for me, hammer’s for dada’s testicles.)

I tried to write this post last night, but the rage was too raw.  Most I could muster was a quick share with my friends in the computer which elicited by a flurry of my favorite cuss-words.  Then, I went to bed at 9pm.  This shit got to me.

As I lay there trying to sleep and envisioning brutal bodily harm, I realized what it was that bothered me the most.  It wasn’t the smugness of the horrid little man that would write, “We nailed it on the first try,” the unjustness of a world that would grant this one-bedroom-apartment couple immediate IVF success and baby boys 2 and 3 as I watch hundreds of others fail cycle after cycle and be ineligible for adoption due to similar living arrangements, and it wasn’t even the idiotic chimings-in of many commenters.  What got under my skin is that this man was given his soapbox, that this story went viral, and that this is the article that my aunt will likely forward me in a few days with the subject line, “Are you sure you want to put all those unnatural hormones in your body?”

National Infertility Awareness Week is an amazing time in the fertility community, but for the past three years I’ve struggled with how it is handled outside of the infertility community.  My skin has been thoroughly thickened in the past several years, but living through that exceptional week, even this year, was still an internally divisive experience.  I felt so connected to my infertility sisters and brothers, I received tremendous support from many in my life (inside and outside of the community), but I still struggled with the way this week was covered in the mainstream media.  When I tuned in to Huff Post Live’s “The Hard Truth About Infertility” last week, I wasn’t remotely surprised that the first words out of the host’s mouth were, “Fertility treatments have made it easier for women to conceive well into their 40s but waiting still comes with risk.”  The story of infertility is still written on the margins of our experiences.  A happily married, home-owning, hard-working, well-educated, 26-year-old infertile woman is not remotely as sexy a story as pregnant 46-year-old Halle Berry or the world’s biggest douchebag discussed above.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone should have their voice, all should feel free to express their feelings in all venues available to them, and freedom of the press is a good thing.  Hell, I’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world if my blogging ass advocated for a shuttering of free expression.  And, I’ll be honest, I’m sure raising twins isn’t a walk in the park and, as someone that knows she is going to be beholden to artificial reproduction techniques, the prospect of multiples scares the bejeezus out of me.  We certainly should all feel free to discuss the bad and the ugly of infertility along with the good.  Post-partum depression after years of infertility, the stress and worry of being pregnant after infertility, and the process of coming to terms with living with infertility after you are no longer trying to conceive  (whether that life includes children or not) are all avenues that should be explored more, not less.  But, the content we are exposed to in mainstream media is curated by someone, it’s collected and disseminated and through that process it’s also interpreted.  Bias is inherent in the publication of the world’s stories.  What I have trouble with is the fact that those curating the story of infertility on the most public of stages incessantly rehash the rare, promote the exceptional, and cold-shoulder the common.

To Babble’s credit, the Disney-sponsored parenting blog published “Expecting Twins? Don’t Freak Out: 10 Pieces of Solid Advice” somewhat in response to the asshat above, but that story won’t get remotely the same mileage as the other.  The harm’s been done.  My twin mom friend in the computer is still correct when she wrote to me, “He’s also just encouraging all the assholes at the supermarket who say shit like ‘better you than me.'”  My aunt will still tell me to, “Hope harder and stop trying to play God.”  And, the most damning of all, another cohort of individuals will go around with one lone quote from an ignorant ingrate on constant loop:

Of course I’m sympathetic to people who can’t get pregnant, or who spend a couple of years trying IVF after IVF. But having kids is a selfish endeavor, and in these cases it’s all very relative and highly personal.

Thanks for giving me your sympathy, anonymous coward; however, if you really thought this was all “highly personal” why are you out there on the airwaves throwing the world’s biggest pity party and damning the rest of us through your unattributed words?  Thanks, but no thanks!

10 thoughts on “Rage Against the Media Machine

  1. There’s so much to love about your blog post.

    I literally laughed out loud at this line: ” (Vodka’s for me, hammer’s for dada’s testicles.)” And I about nodded my damn head off at this: A happily married, home-owning, hard-working, well-educated, 26-year-old infertile woman is not remotely as sexy a story as pregnant 46-year-old Halle Berry or the world’s biggest douchebag discussed above.

    YES. A million times YES.

  2. Agree! Agree! Agree! I really liked this part…

    What got under my skin is that this man was given his soapbox, that this story went viral, and that this is the article that my aunt will likely forward me in a few days with the subject line, “Are you sure you want to put all those unnatural hormones in your body?”

    So true! He’s setting the great efforts of IF advocates back.

    • Absolutely! I’ve read so many inspiring stories from the IF community, but those authors languish in isolation and obscurity while this ass is presented front and center. And, on the rare occasions when strong, powerful, and eloquent members of the IF community are invited to share their stories (as you so bravely did), they are forced to spend more time cleaning up after the preconceptions spread by these idiots than they are granted to actually get the message across. Sometimes it does really feel like 1 step forward, 5 miles back.

      That said, that step is still 100% worth taking!

  3. You know, I can understand his fear. I can also understand feeling some disappointment and regret, mixed with excitement.

    But the thing is, there is NO excitement here. The whole article is about how everything sucks — including the problems with their first son! Clearly, they didn’t want twins, but did they really want a second child at all? Or was it more about “giving” their son a sibling, in a martyr-ish kind of way? They knew it would be a lot of work, but now it’s going to be even MORE work, etc.

    And what’s the anger about? I don’t get it, unless it has to do with the high cost of IVF pressuring people into taking chances that they’d rather not to take.

    Last but not least: “We nailed it on the first try.” Ever since reading that line, I’ve had the song “Macho Macho Man” stuck in my head!!

    • Yea, you’re willing to give this guy a lot more benefit of the doubt than I am, and I do appreciate that. I was so blinded by anger I couldn’t even puzzle through much of it, to be honest. And the true “Stab, stab, stab!” moment for me was exactly the line you’ve highlighted. Can you even imagine a more disgusting turn of phrase than, “We nailed it on the first try” in that context?

      Good for you, sir, good for you. Now stand still while I nail you on the first try with my hammer!

  4. I’m almost speechless after reading this.

    I am 37. We have been trying for baby #2 for 10 years now with the dreaded ‘unknown fertility.’ I’ve prayed and begged for doctors to find something wrong with me so it can be fixed. Unfortunately, it’s ‘just me’. Right now we are waiting for the results of autoimmune testing. They bluntly said that this is the last thing they can test for. We have literally been tested for everything else. The end of the road.

    I would kill for twins. Boy, girl. Whatever.

    “Of course I’m sympathetic to people who can’t get pregnant, or who spend a couple of years trying IVF after IVF.” The last thing he sounds like is sympathetic. What he doesn’t get is that we don’t want any of his sympathy or pity…we want what he was lucky enough to get: babies.

  5. I’ve seen this written about a few times lately, and there is just no way I can bring myself to look up the article. You are so right about the main issue here. We know that their are people out there like this guy. We see/hear them every day. But the problem is that it went viral, just like you said. And also, the problem is that someday this man’s kids will read this article. That breaks my heart a little bit. I surely hope that a year or so from now, he writes a response to his own article explaining that he was ignorant when he wrote this article, how much he loves his two new sons, how he’d give anything for them and can’t imagine it any other way. I’m not holding my breath though.

  6. Fucking castrate this prick. Seriously. Does he even love the son he already has, or does he just consider him an inconvenience and a pain in the ass? I feel so bad for all 3 little boys to have such a poor male role model to look up to as they get older, and I sincerely hope that they never happen to read this pathetic article their sad excuse for a father has posted about them. Yes, the newborn phase is hard, I’ll say that firsthand, but *something* made him want to go through it all over again. I don’t understand gender-swaying and the like, and it bothers the hell out of me when a fertile woman cries because her perfectly healthy unborn child is the “wrong” gender, so this shit just pisses me off… they struggled to conceive a second child, did IVF and got lucky on the first try, then got flat-out pissed about the gender (and had the fucking NERVE to feign sympathy for those dealing with IF… total bullshit). What, did they really think a baby girl would be less likely to have colic or more likely to STTN than a boy?? To be honest, I’m cautiously expecting my second baby after IF, and I’m really nervous. But I’ll tell you that all I’m hoping for is healthy; if I’m lucky enough to have two healthy children, I’ll consider myself extremely blessed, no matter what sex the second child is. And if I happen to have twins? Yes, I’ll be even more nervous, but it’ll be more about whether they’re healthy and if we’ll have enough time and money for 3 children; gender won’t even factor in that. I just wish this sad excuse for a man could be the same way about these blessings that so many couples would be beyond thrilled to have 🙁

  7. Pingback: Finding a Fertility Doctor in the Greater Olathe Area | Family & Relations Articles

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