Infertility on Film

Thank you all for your kind and supportive comments on yesterday’s post.  I’m not the first to experience pregnancy- and baby-induced anxiety in a public place–it’s not even a first for me–but it helps to know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

After our trip to hippie mama heaven–or, in my case, wanna-be hippie mama hell–the rest of the day was spent wallowing, napping, and watching the Olympics.  Sustenance for the day can only be described as “carbolicious”: peanut butter crackers, orange flavored chocolate mousse/cake, burekas, popcorn, and soda.  Most of which I immediately regretted eating.

Hubby took me to see a movie–Moonrise Kingdom, which I had been dying to see–and I was not disappointed.  Much to my dismay, however, the previews included a “special” look at that (what I can only assume will be) sappy Timothy Green movie.  I detest these previews, and this was the extended version, where mom- and dad-to-be, after lamenting the fact that their “doctor said” they can’t have children, make a list of all the qualities their perfect child would have, bury it in the back yard, and–presto!–a seven-year-old springs out of the mud to call them “mom” and “dad.”  Bleh.

So, mere seconds before our film started, I was sitting in the theater, eyes burning and fighting back tears, with a hard ball of anger forming in my chest.

I can’t be the only one who finds this concept disgusting.  Because there’s no child being grown in a garden somewhere for us.  No cabbage-patch nursery where we can choose our child based on hair and eye color, freckles, and glasses.  Who comes up with this shit?

The only film I’ve seen recently–maybe ever–that treats infertility realistically is Joy.  It’s a small part of the plot but pivotal to the relationship it affects.  And that is what is so moving.

No, wait–I thought of another one.  Julie & Julia.  According to the movie, Julia Child wanted children but, for whatever reason, was unable to.  There’s even a scene where she reacts with tears at the announcement of her sister’s pregnancy.  Who among us can’t relate to that?

Then there are the movies where I never see it coming.  If anyone ever recommends the movie Chaos Theory–don’t do it!  Especially if you’re dealing with male-factor infertility.  It will only piss you off.  Probably.  Or maybe it’s just me.

Are there films you’ve seen recently that have handled the subject of infertility well, or do you avoid the topic at all costs when it comes to weekend entertainment?


33 thoughts on “Infertility on Film

  1. Keiko had a post about”Timothy Green”:

    Honestly, I think Hollywood struggles with infertility because they need the “happy ending.” The idea that someone struggles for so long for something many take for granted and the outcome is uncertain is one that makes your average producer cringe.

    My favorite IF movie is “Up.” The fact a couple lives child-free not by choice but still leads a wonderful life is amazingly beautiful. The scene in “Julie & Julia” incredibly powerful too. I haven’t seen “Joy,” so thank you for the recommendation.

    And orange flavored chocolate mousse sounds yummy! Recipe?

    • Oh, yeah, the first 10 minutes of Up makes me cry every time.

      I wish I had a recipe, but I didn’t make the orange chocolate mousse. It is delicious, though–in small portions!

  2. I had the exact same reaction when we got smacked with the Timothy movie preview…right after getting my period. Lovely. The movies is my ultimate in reality escape, and I was angry that I was having to deal with IF there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where it’s sufficiently dealt with (or dealt with at all, for that matter.) I do often think of the scene in Julie & Julia when Julia Child and her husband pass a baby carriage while out on a walk. They don’t speak, but there is such a look of saddness and resignation as they look at each other and keep walking. I thought it was very realistic and heartbreaking. My friends reference Charlotte’s struggle on Sex and the City to me a lot. I’m not an expert enough to comment on it, but what little I’ve seen seems fairly realistic. P.S. Love your new page design!

    • Yeah, I was never a huge SATC fan, but I vaguely remember something about them adopting a baby from China? It seems to pop up in weird places, but I couldn’t recall many of them when I was writing this. Probably because I immediately block them out after seeing them, or something.

      • she does end up adopting. She goes through fertility treatments, and her marriage ends in the process. She, like so many mythological creatures, adopts internationally then gets pregnant despite years of infertility. There is a “cardboard baby” episode that my friend quotes to me fairly often which highlights how even an infertile person’s partner can be completely clueless as to what this process means. I will watch it when it’s on, but I’ve never watched the series all the way through. I wouldn’t mind going back and watching the seasons that deal with her infertility, just out of curiosity. Friends also deals with it with Monica and Chandler, but I always thought the happy ending and acceptance happened too fast and too easily, but it is a comedy afterall.

  3. I think some movies and shows depict infertility to some degree in a good way, but never in an all-consuming way that it seems to affect most of us. However if there was a movie that was a good representation of what most of us experience then it would be way too depressing and no one would watch it!

  4. I totally agree with you about the Timothy Green movie. I was blown away with the line in the preview about the only boy name on the list being Timothy?!?! How many people (especially infertles) only have one boy name on a list? It was very irritating to me.

  5. I remember seeing that preview and thinking something along the lines of “what the fuck? Is this for REAL??!”
    And now that you mention it, besides UP, I can’t think of any movies that deal with infertility. Go figure.

  6. Ironically PAIL recently had a post about infertility in media…
    I think the most “realistic” portrayal of infertility that i have seen is in the movie “The Help”. I was totally blindsided by the sub-plot (which brought about hugely unexpected tears in the theater!) but I think it is played pretty true to the horror and emotions that accompany infertility, especially in the time period and deep southern social politics of the setting.

    Haven’t seen Julie&Julia, or Joy, but I’ll have to see if we can stream them on Netflix!

  7. I remember those scenes in The Help. They stand out to me because I saw the movie a few months back, the same time I was having IUI #1. The book really did an incredible job with the infertility issue.

    One movie I saw a preview for a while back was What to Expect When You Are Expecting (of course this doesn’t touch on infertility). I prayed no one ever asked me to sit through that. Still don’t know if it came out or is yet to be coming out. Just glad I dodged that bullet!

    • Yeah, I had no desire to see that movie–and somehow managed to mostly avoid the previews as well. I did read a little bit about it, though–specifically regarding Elizabeth Banks playing a pregnant woman when she had been through infertility herself. Not sure I would have been able to do that.

      • I actually did see the movie, and two characters deal with ALI. One has spent basically all their life savings on treatments/IVF and eventually adopts. I appreciated the tension between her and her husband- he has a lot more fears and hesitations that seemed fairly true to what a marriage could go through. I cried during one of their arguments and she screams in a parking lot about how she feels its her fault that her body doesnt work. And i cried at the little “adoption ceremony” Another couple miscarries, but I think they “bounce back” from it faster than most people I know… So take it for what you will.

      • Oh, and I forgot that Elizabeth’s character also has unexplained infertility, so when she finds out she’s pregnant and runs out in public with the tests waving in the air to show her husband… I could totally see that happening.

  8. Mmm I remember that scene in Julie & Julia, very realistic and heartbreaking.
    Have you seen Juno? I find that film very moving and also realistic (if you can take the teenage pregnancy), check out the trailer and you’ll know if you can watch it. I liked the story and the witty language.

    • Yeah, I liked Juno. Jennifer Garner seems to be playing the same role in this movie. Although, probably less likable in this movie–I’ll never know because I will never see it.

  9. Your blog looks fantastic!!

    I’m going to agree with the others and say “UP” did the best job of handling infertility for me. Thanks for the recommendation of “Joy.”

  10. I have a love/hate relationship with movies dealing with infertility. Sure its great because it gets the message out there that people truly are struggling with this, but I wish they would take the most realistic approach with it. I loved Up because they got the message of the pain of infertility and learning to live a life without children across in the first 10 minutes of the movie.

    But a good example of my love/hate is Men With Brooms. One of my favorite Canadian movies. It’s a curling movie but one of the characters are dealing with male factor.They openly admit that he has a single digit sperm count and yet at the end, they still end up pregnant without treatments. Mind you, they show them talking to the fertility doctor. So it still leaves people thinking that if you just keep trying it will work regardless of the diagnosis.

    Btw, I love the new look of your blog. So cute!

    • Yeah, it seems like the easy way out in a lot of movies that touch on the subject is a surprise miracle pregnancy. How many people ever get that? Turns out, the movies I’ve seen that I like explore the hurt and anger but rarely have a happy ending, at least, not one that ends with a baby.

  11. We have seen several movies the past 2 months, bad ass action movies and the like. Yet it seems like EVERY SINGLE ONE has Timothy Green as a preview. I go to a movie to relax, not to be reminded of my issues. I get misty every time I see that preview. I’ll download it sometime but it’s not something I would want to see in the theater.

    • It makes me more mad than sad. I don’t plan on ever seeing it–unless it turns out to be a completely different movie than I think it is.

  12. Thanks, Daryl and everyone, for sharing intimate insights on this subject that has also drawn even closer to my heart. May I add 1 more film that I absolutely LOVE for so many reasons – Away We Go. Tender and true rendering of the theme of the “family” in all its glories and disappointments…

    • I haven’t seen that one. I think when it came out, I was afraid it would be too hard to watch, even though I liked a lot of the cast. I’ll have to check it out!

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