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LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

J. Lo's Infertility Block

U.T.E.R.U.S. update: things are trucking along. Auctions have started and more are being added. We'll have the first financial update in about 9 days. I am updating this post with links as new items come in (important: if you said what you would donate in the comments section but haven't filled out the form, it will not be added to the auction. In order to have Helen add your item to the auction, you need to fill out the form and send it to Melissa and Jen). Once Calliope is set and all has calmed, we have set up a listserv for those who wish to join, brainstorm, help out to keep U.T.E.R.U.S. going indefinitely and we'll post information on how to join. I'm also holding on to all of the cool ideas that have come in until that point. Any questions, let us know. I'll keep doing small updates here and on Lost & Found. And thank you so much for helping with this. It's really amazing to see everyone come together.

This post is cross-posted (mostly) with BlogHer:

It's incredible how much my life mirrors J Lo's. Every magazine I open, every celebrity blog out there is desperate to know if I used fertility treatments to conceive my twins. Some people say I brought it on myself by always playing coy and doing my whole "look at me! Don't look at me!" thing. Maybe I did, but now that I'm holding these two little 3 1/2 year old nuggets of love, I am ready to invite you into my townhouse and take a small peek into the chaotic and wonderful life of just your-average-celebrity mum.

If you'll step over here, you can watch me demurely cross my ankles while I gaily feed the ChickieNob soy bacon and carrot sticks. Over in our living room (which is also our dining room, playroom, and home office), you can plant yourself on the marked-down sofa and watch me nuzzle the Wolvog while he squirms out of my unmanicured hands. Take a peek into how we squeezed two beds in a single room due to an absolute lack of space. And ask me any question. Any question you like.

BlogHer: You look incredible. It's been...what? 3 1/2 years? And you've almost lost the baby weight.

Melissa: I know, I'm really blessed with wonderful genes.

BlogHer: And potty training? Which one of you is actually conducting the potty training?

Melissa: Josh is such an amazing father--a natural. It is incredibly how he has figured out how to help our children learn how to urinate on the toilet. I, of course, am too busy still training for my Iron Man this upcoming fall.

BlogHer: Let's just get this out in the open. Can you set the record straight about how challenging it was to conceive?

Melissa: Do you see a dime buried in that marked-down sofa? Of course not, since we've already scrounged for it ourselves. I think it's pretty obvious that we did fertility treatments due to our lack of money.

Thus ends the interview portion of this post.

It is obvious looking at the sheer elegance of J Lo's house that her vagina could not have possibly seen the hollowed end of a catheter because she obviously is not paying off thousands in medical bills.

All of this is said tongue-in-cheek; I don't truly care if J Lo has done treatments or not or if she admits to them or only writes about them in her super secret diary. Truthfully, just because she is a celebrity doesn't mean that it's my business and regardless of social status, it's never fun to be on the receiving end of the twin guessing game. In fact, it's ten kinds of annoying to get the thinly-veiled questions and comments when you have conceived with fertility treatments so I would think that it would be equally annoying to receive them when you haven't conceived with treatments.

I'm fairly certain that with few exceptions, no one wanted Jennifer Lopez to need IVF (um...I'm right...right?). And if you actually read her answer, she doesn't deny fertility drugs--just in vitro. Twins may run in Marc's family, though twinning is never determined by the male and J Lo may have enough multiples in her family for a twin convention, though I'm fairly certain without any close relatives having twins that it's unlikely to have come from her side as well. Twinning, of course, is more common with women over 35.

Bloggers, though, have not taken offense with the fact that we can't claim J Lo as one of our own and have her step up to be the next Resolve spokesperson. It's the way she put down other paths to parenthood including her own stepmotherhood when she said, "I can't even think of anything that can match the actual miracle of giving birth and having your own child. It's beyond anything you could ever imagine." And it is beyond what millions of people who adopt apparently get to imagine and frankly, we're all a little tired of celebrities ignoring the existing children they parent in order to wax philosophical about their newborns. Last I checked, parents who do not gestate their children still find them to be miracles so perhaps it has nothing to do with uteruses?

It's the way that she left the millions of men and women experiencing unexplained infertility as not wanting it badly enough when she said, "I knew there was nothing wrong with me. I knew that I could. Deep down, I really wanted it badly."

There have been other responses, but I think it was Akeeyu's post at herveryown that hit the nail on the head as she relayed a conversation she had with an elderly acquaintance:
I told her that I did indeed see The Jo Lo.
"You know what I think?"
I wondered if she thought what everybody else in the known universe was thinking, but said nothing.
"I think those babies were gifts from God."
"Oh?" I said politely, fervently hoping for Jennifer Lopez's sake that they were not gifts from God. The gods, after all, have a long history of giving pretty questionable gifts.
"She waited so long, you know. I think those babies were her reward because of everything she had to go through."
And that is precisely the problem with the interview. Because there is the rewarded and the unrewarded. And reality (two round-the-clock baby nurses) and fantasy (we're doing it all by ourselves and just paying these baby nurses thousands of dollars to look pretty--wait, they can do that since they didn't pay for treatments).

The blame, of course, falls squarely on the shoulders of magazines that make us believe that we should be interested in the uteruses of celebrities. Because once you remove the People magazine from the house, she doesn't even cross my mind. And I get to live my day happily-ever-after in our townhouse, ducking my own twin questions left and right.

I have a policy never to post something on my blog that I wouldn't mind the person reading if they found it. The chances of J Lo finding this post, of course, are slim to none, but I keep that in mind regardless. But I would say this to her face if we ever bumped into each other at a twin convention (though perhaps I wouldn't admit to the sofa being a marked-down). Hence I hit publish.


Kim said...

Great post!I am with you - it makes me a little upset that she knew it was going to happen - magic ovary-ball perhaps? It is like those lovely ladies who call themselves caring friends that tell you to relax and take a vacation! Or to get drunk - b/c that is how it happened for them! Ugh! I told one that I do not make a mature egg on my own and my estrogen never gets above 50 and it needs to be about 250. Also hubby has only 2% morphology making it hard to conceive even when I got get a good egg with like 20 injections a month! After that there was no more advice. And I understand it is her right to keep her method of conception private. I try to use your philosophy about talking about others in life. I don't like gossip but don't feel like I am really talking about someone or gossiping if it was something I would say in a public setting or to that person directly.

Twisted Ovaries said...

My issue isn't that J.Lo (by the way, she's a serious actress and artist now. She's Jennifer. She doesn't want to be called J.Lo anymore, so of course we should all keep doing it because she's just Jenny From the Block, right?) did or didn't have IVF and did or didn't deny it. My issue with her interview-and yes, I read it-is the thinly veiled background behind it. That OF COURSE she didn't need IVF, she just had to WANT IT that bad. That's my problem. That those who slog through IVF are, somehow, not wanting it enough. We must surely not be that desperate to have children if we don't magically wind up pregnant, right? Right? That's what J.Lo says anyway, so it must be right!

* Also, who the hell gives their kids diamond-encrusted rattles? Does she know what puke does to 2 carats? I'm just saying.

** That nursery was waaaaaaay child-unfriendly. It had "Mama says 'Don't touch!'" written all over it.

loribeth said...

Mel, you have this wonderful way of zeroing right in on the crux of the matter. I never really "got" the appeal of JLo anyway, and I'm even less inclined to like her after reading that People story -- and you've articulated exactly why. Thanks! (And thanks to the other bloggers, & especially Julie, whose post totally cracked me up!)

Andria and Co. said...

Infertility, like mental illness, is something that women are criticized for. It's our fault, the public sometimes screams. Admit your infertility, and you have admitted defeat. That you are a weak person. At least, that is the response I received. I think celebrities, like J. Lo, and Courtney Cox, feel this heat, and don't want to admit that they are "like one of us".

SarahSews said...

For Andrina -- As far as I know Courtney Cox doesn't deny she needed extensive help to become a mother. I seem to recall discussion of multiple miscarriages and treatments in an interview with her.

As for JLo, I like her. I dislike that she feels the need to give random fertiles firepower in our never ending battle to not be blamed for our infertility. She may indeed have thought nothing was wrong with her and she may have indeed been right. But even that and a very strong desire to be a mother might never have gotten her what she wanted. She pretends she had control, which is what fertiles want to believe right? That if we relax, vacation, prop our hips up, that somehow we have power over our reproduction? We know it isn't true. And for her to pretend otherwise, whether she did treatment or not, drives me batty.

And I say that as someone who DID magically get pregnant without medical assistance after years of wanting and waiting, with failed treatment behind me. We were unexplained and treatment failed me. And we did eventually do it on our own. But I am big enough to admit that my desire played no part in it. And that somehow we got luckier than we ever imagined possible. That's all I wanted from her.

JuliaS said...

Well - you know, I really didn't want those seven babies I miscarried bad enough.

I didn't get frustrated after the first year of ttc with no BFP, no, not I - and that clomid I took? Well, that was a natural fertility supplement. And the Follistim injections I did later on? Oh - that was nothing, just more vitamins.

All those follicle scans were just because my ovaries are so darn freaking pretty - EVERYone wanted to see them. I PAID my doc's office $200 a scan because I wanted to share my perfection with the world and show everybody how I got follies because I KNEW I would!

But - I need to run now, I am trying to figure out some way of removing formula stains out of my pink satin ballgown . . .

Bleah - say it was hard, say it was frustrating for those 3 years - say that you cried every month your period showed up and your dh patted your shoulder and said "maybe next time". Say how amazingly blessed you felt when the BFP finally showed up and when you got to hold those two miracles in your arms for the first time - naturally, unnaturally (as if there is such a thing?) conceived - found under a cabbage leaf, bought from a boutique on Rodeo Drive . . . Say that because it would be HONEST, and no one would criticize you for being human.

Other "famous" women have done it - no one thinks any less of them and they managed to do so without belittling the thousands of women who struggle and fight for the very same thing that just plopped into your lap because deep down you KNEW.

JJ said...

Loved this post--and over at BlogHer. Well said, my friend.

teh4 said...

Great conversation going on here -I'm really interested in “Andria and Co.’s” comments about infertility being a stigmatizing condition. Do you think if celebrities openly discussed fertility issues it would help to build a comfort level around discussing fertility issues? Who about other than celebrities? what would have to happen for people to feel comfortable discussing infertility like any other health issue/condition?

LJ said...

Stars! They're Just Like Us!

I've already wretched enough over JLo. I have no problem with folks keeping things private, it's just the condemnation of needing help that is implicit in the words that gets to me.

Aurelia said...

JuliaS said it best for me. Ditto to like---EVERYTHING.

And teh4, infertility and pg loss are very very taboo in our society, completely stigmatized. I always praise to the skies any public persona who comes out. Every time they do, they make it easier for the rest of us.

I am very open in real life about it, and among political people, I can tell you that they are all in the closet. I am one of the few who is out in my party. Meanwhile, over 100 prominent politicians & staffers have come out to me privately, and I won't out them, but damn I'd love it if they did come out.

We need the support.

Michell said...

very well said.

Tina said...

I love celebrities....not!

Seriously, she does have a right to her privacy - she doesn't have to tell the world if she went through IVF or not. That is her right. However, without even reading said article, her comments are downright insulting to anyone who has walked the IF or loss path. Every child is a miracle, regardless of how conceived. A child's life is beautiful...and what makes it even more beautiful is the unconditional love bestowed on that child.

What I find completely insulting is the waste of cash on, how many was it? Three nurseries? Four? Okay, the babies have every right to be pampered...but, when I go to my door to give the homeless, schizophrenic man who looks to shovel snow in the winter just to buy a piece of bread to eat, I can't help but wonder if these children stand the chance of honestly knowing how lucky their lives will be? Of being compassionate and empathetic?

Leaves me shaking my head... I can't imagine throwing a fit (a la Christina Aguliera) because my baby didn't sell enough covers of a magazine. Children are priceless...and to be paid to show them off is, well, tacky and demeaning.

katd said...

THANK YOU!! I read that article in the checkout at the grocery and wanted to scream. First of all, heaven forbid her children ever, ever spit up in that room :) And it killed me to read about how there's nothing equal to birthing a child. I feel pretty darn attached to my child who didn't come from my body but who is mine nonetheless. And good thing she willed herself to get pregnant. That's the ONE thing I forgot to try. Dang.

Vacant Uterus said...

Right on, Snatch!

I must not have wanted those two babies I miscarried badly enough. Either that or I didn't believe hard enough. Or maybe I just ran out of babydust... Oh well. It's too bad that I'll never get to experience the true joy of parenting since we're adopting and not having our own but I guess that's what happens when you don't want it badly enough. I'm just too damn lazy. Can somebody pass the bonbons?

Oh, and our sofa was marked down, too.

Carrie said...

I loved your take on this.
No matter whether she had treatment or not she tried for three years. She knows how it hurts. She should have been less clumsy with her replies.

magdalen said...

So many great comments here... particularly the idea that childless, infertile, or, I would add, childfree by choice women are to be stigmatized for their condition or choices. I agree with Andria that it parallels mental illness.

I'd like to see infertility, childfree by choice living, and all the weird grey areas in between receive more attention in the media, including from celebs. How often do you see a magazine in the grocery line with the headline "Celeb Experiences Real Love and Selflessness -- Without a Baby!"?

the Babychaser: said...

Were celebrities having babies before I started TTC? Or did they start doing it right at the same time, just to show me up? And did you notice a sudden jump in celebrity pregnancies right after my first miscarraige?

Seriously, why did having a baby have to get trendy right when I learned I was infertile? I'm pretty sure it's all a plot to make me feel even more inadequate.

Of course, J-Lo has a good point. Like good skin, a svelte figure, and piles of money, a baby is something I just haven't wanted badly enough or tried hard enough to get.

Nice post, Mel! (I read a lot of them, but am often to intimidated by your vast and brilliant viewership to comment.)

apronstringsemily said...

I like the fact that they consider themselves very "hands on" with their children and yet have two round-the-clock nannies. Must be nice.

Oh and the whole twinning thing? Uh, yeah. Even though women over 35 have a higher chance in having twins ... I still think that she definitely went the medication route.

Your post was SPOT ON ... brava! brava!

Julia said...

Yeah... gift from God... ughu... makes all the bereaved parents feel warm and fuzzy inside, I am sure. I know that's how I feel.
Love people running off their mouthes without thinking, love them.
But I am sure we just didn't want it bad enough. Clearly not bad enough.

And I would say it to her face. Anyday.

I haven't read the article, btw. Not interested in hiking my blood pressure for some reason. Plus, lucky for me, I guess, I am not really interested in celebrities. Although it is as easy for one of them as for any other asshat to piss me off.

Bea said...

Yeah. Yeah. The whole idea that there's something wrong with people who don't get children, that they didn't want them enough, that they didn't deserve them, that they got given them briefly, perhaps, but then taken away and all this happened *for a reason*. It just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's pretty insulting.


Susan said...

Maybe she's embarrassed about doing her fertility treatments because it makes her seem less than her perfect (in her mind) celebrity status. I don't know. I just know that when I finally get to add a child to my family I will be happy regardless of the means it took to get them here.

beagle said...

The whole "bump watch" think has gotten out of hand. Now ordingary fat women like me can't even shop in public without having their (babyless) bumps spotted. Ugh.

I don't get why reprodcution has become such a public topic (outside of IF blogging that is). Either you tried too hard to get pg or you had an oopsie baby, everyone has to question the motive, the reason, the method . . .


And to prove that we are ALL suckers for celebrity gossip . . . check out your comment count today! LOL Who needs People maazing anyway?

Antigone said...

So that's the problem. I'll start wanting it more.