Thursday, September 8, 2011


I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming of room redesign inspirations (more to come on that front) to rant pointlessly about matters IF-related.

I want to preface this by saying that I know this is shallow. And petty. And I am so jaded that this particular brand of pettiness does not usually appeal to me (it has to get a whole lot more petty before it captures my attention). But for whatever reason I am making an exception.

I don't watch the Rachel Zoe project (I would like to say that that's because it's trash TV and doesn't appeal to me, but while both of those things are true, there is clearly plenty of trash TV that does. I watched all of Million-Dollar Decorators and I cannot wait for the next season to start). But I do read TLo's recaps. (That's plenty, right?) I understand that, being recaps, they are at least a little editorialized. The show may be a caricature of reality (to say nothing of humanity), but it's also possible that the recaps are largely a caricature of the show. Even so.

Apparently all last season Rachel's husband Rodger was on her case about how they should have a baby, and Rachel was not sold. (If this were a sitcom, it would make perfect sense to do this, because the writers could ordain that the character would get pregnant the next season, making the nagging part of a coherent storyline, rather than just an annoyance to the audience. But the characters in this show are supposed to be actual people, so that's my foreshadowing of the first thing about this that really annoys me.)

Several of TLo's catty but hilarious commenters pointed out that it probably is biologically impossible for the woman to get pregnant in the first place. She's over 40 and may be older than she admits to, and she appears to be starving. I understand that it's snarky to say that a skinny 18yo is anorexic (she may just be thin), but when it's a woman in her 40s (when metabolism slows way down), she looks like a death's head, she works in the fashion industry, her hair and skin are processed into oblivion, and there are cameras following her around documenting that she never eats food, the safe money is on some sort of rather serious eating disorder. And though yours truly has never been that skinny (or looked that scary), I've done the JV anorexia thing and I can attest from experience that it will absolutely mess with your cycle. The system shock from excessive diet and exercise will screw it up in individual instances, and more generally, once you drop your body fat far enough, you don't produce enough estrogen for a healthy reproductive system.

No one here would be familiar with the effects of hormone imbalance on fertility, by any chance?

Just checking.

Frankly, if a grown woman well into "advanced maternal age" who probably has been sexually active for decades but never open to life and is wedded to her career and at least mildly horrified at the thought of having a child can't get pregnant, then everybody wins, right? Most of all the baby, and the woman second, and after that, the rest of us.

Apparently this season of the show started the other day and Rachel is pregnant. Six months pregnant, and apparently (you can go and look up the pictures) barely looks pregnant at all. I know, first pregnancies don't show as much as early, but if you're a stick, your lunch shows (assuming you eat any). A six-month fetus would be plainly visible. Apparently several of her lines in the show indicate that she is continuing the thinness obsession into pregnancy (i.e., "you can't suck your stomach in when you're pregnant" - apparently that was a lamentation), which raises a significant question about what is now termed "pregorexia," or at any rate, malnourishment of her unborn child. Given that AMA increases the risk of pregnancy complications already, who in her right mind would take the additional risk of undereating?

So now you have the entire picture that has provoked my fury. This woman didn't want a baby; her husband did, and she probably enjoyed the idea of some attention accompanying the pregnancy announcement, but the idea of being continuously pregnant for nine months is clearly not her cup of tea. And it seems clear that she does not want a child (apparently she was extremely upset that it would be a boy, and thus not likely to attend the couture shows with her. That doesn't even qualify as a "first-world problem"). Children tend to result from babies; first they're infants, later toddlers, then preschoolers, then school kids, then teenagers, and later college students and then independent adults. All of those stages have the potential to create significant inconvenience for the parents. I know I did.

I know I have been highly ambivalent about the baby thing lately (while ttc), prompting questions from the more consistent-minded among you. But I feel that I have cause. After so many years of IF, I've tried very hard to get accustomed to my life without children. While that hasn't been a complete success, the alternative seems to be perpetual unhappiness, and that, at least, I would like to avoid. Paradoxically, getting pregnant now, while a blessing, would also be a major disruption of the little peace I've acquired. I don't think this woman's ambivalence is a product of dealing with the grief of IF, though she may have had other painful experiences about which I know nothing.

Also. I get a lot of exercise and I eat relatively healthy (plus dessert and snacks) and I take my medicine and see a doctor and wear sunscreen and I don't tan artificially (beds or spray) or smoke or drink or use controlled substances (prescription or otherwise) or consume much caffeine or even dye or perm my hair. I don't "eat organic" and I don't try to be a pain in the neck to others about their health and the only Gospel I preach (and I try to do so judiciously) is the Gospel, but I think I live a pretty healthy life.

I know I go on about pregnant crack whores (I find they help people to work out complex theological points without having to sit down with Aquinas and Augustine and a course in basic logic for several years), but that's crack whores in general. That is, some women who are selling their bodies to pay for illegal drugs become pregnant despite probably not wanting to, and obviously not maintaining their health in an optimal way to get and stay pregnant. Many of these carry their babies more or less to term (albeit often with compromised health). But any given crack whore probably has less of a chance of conceiving than a normal person (though likely a far greater chance than I have, and I have not sold my body for drugs even once. See that restraint!).

But Rachel Zoe is just one person. Just one apparently physically unhealthy person whose lifestyle (with high stress and limited sleep, and a schedule that likely makes ttc inconvenient, in addition to everything else) is not conducive to getting pregnant. And that person - that person who is not taking care of her unborn baby and appears not even to have wanted a baby - made a big deal ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, for A WHOLE SEASON LONG, about a storyline that would blow up in her face if she turned out to be unable to get pregnant. She gambled that she would get pregnant, even though the average person has a 1/6 chance of losing that bet, and even though her chances had to be a lot steeper.

And she won.

I don't know whether "didn't deserve it" is the right mode of analysis here, especially given that she probably would have been secretly (or openly) relieved if she could not have had a child. Embarrassed, maybe, but relieved. But I guess this absolute nonsense is really galling because it flies in the face of even what the moderate, sensible, non-vengeful me would like to establish on the subject of infertility. I would like the populace at large to have a real idea of how common infertility is. I would like them to think seriously about what 1/6 means. ONE SIXTH. I would like them to be forced to confront the fact that that sixth isn't just professional prostitutes and extreme athletes and people with an extra chromosome and those who started ttc over 50 - it's normal, healthy, risk-averse people with no STDs and no prior abortions. IT COULD BE THEM.

And even though it must be somewhere in our DNA to believe that infertility will never strike us personally, I would like normal people to start saying, before they start ttc, "It might not happen." Or, "we're hoping to have a baby" instead of "we're planning to get pregnant in October or November." To say "if we should be so lucky" and mean it. I want people to believe and understand that it could be them, that there are no guarantees. (And yes, I did. I was 21 and 22 and unmarried and even before the endometriosis diagnosis, I said, "I want 12 kids. But if I can't have my own..." Not being [that big of] an idiot doesn't protect you. And being an idiot doesn't hurt you, even though I ardently believe that it should.)

And then Rachel Zoe goes out on her TV show and demonstrates to the world that getting pregnant is effortless; it happens the day you stop arguing with your husband; it's a trend, a fad, a brief hobby to get you airtime, not a serious life-changing responsibility; it's not something women would be wise to prioritize when they are younger (not that that helped me), because it's just as effortless at whatever age; it has nothing to do with your state of health and it's totally compatible with being emaciated; and it doesn't require you to undertake any efforts for the health of the unborn child.

There is no justice. And there really should be.

(And I do not want her baby to be born with birth defects or ill or dying - I don't. But I do want her to spend at least one week in her third trimester in mortal dread that the baby will really not be OK, with a visceral awareness that this is because she cared more about being a maternity size 0 than her child's life. I don't think that's uncharitable - I think that would be an indispensible benefit to her life, and her child's.)



  1. Ok I had never heard of Rachel Zoe before this post, but this kind of thing makes me crazy too, so I looked her up and yeah, this is obnoxious! She is 40 and after 15 years of marriage just "decided" to have a baby? Idk, despite her ambivalence, I still assume fertility treatments. Apparently she had the baby in March but the season is just airing now? Blah-- I don't like it!

  2. Ick ick ick ick ick. I totally get your rage. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Ick!!!!!!!

  3. I'm with you 100%. I don't watch her show (and now I'm glad I don't), but I keep somewhat informed on various celebrity goings-on, and I must say her pregnancy stupefied me. I mean, the sheer fact that she was ABLE to, being so obviously unhealthy. And her attitude about it is terrible. By the way, this was my favorite sentence (and paragraph, really):
    "I would like them to be forced to confront the fact that that sixth isn't just professional prostitutes and extreme athletes and people with an extra chromosome and those who started ttc over 50 - it's normal, healthy, risk-averse people with no STDs and no prior abortions. IT COULD BE THEM."

    BAM! (That's the sound of you hitting the nail on the head). That's something I've been feeling for a long time but haven't been able to put into words. Thank you for doing so.

  4. I knew she was pg, but I didn't know the story behind it. Totally, totally unfair. I get your sentiments exactly.

  5. I sympathize with the first part of the post (so glad I don't have to deal with this nut on German TV) and the second part of the post is brill-iant. (I sent a link to a friend brilliant.) love it!

  6. I have no idea who this woman is, but I hate her.

    People that take their fertility for granted suck big, fat donkey balls!

  7. I had never heard of her either, but I heard about her story a while back. I hate the fact that there is no justice with these kinds of stories, too. Also you would think that with all the ups and downs and emotional rages that reality TV likes, they would look more for infertility sagas than these stupid "I randomly ended up pregnant" ones- there are no better emotional roller coasters experienced than by a frustrated, sad, left out, infertile on a cocktail of 4 different hormones, especially when she hears about some bimbo who could care less and still got pregnant.....

  8. I don't really know much about her, and didn't know she was pregnant, but YEAH, that really sucks. Totally completely and utterly unfair.
    I was a little peeved at Giuliana Rancic for not wanting to gain the 5 lbs her doctor asked her to to improve their chances at IVF. 5 lbs!!! Being underweight is a serious problem for fertility! And if you can't do that ONE thing. Sigh.

  9. Two words: donor eggs.

    And if she's already 6 mos, that bitching was just for the "plot." I smell a rat, as you do.

    These "celebrities" (which now should be defined as people famous for being famous without really doing anything of great note) are wonderful distractions for a nation being sold a very long bill of goods--but I won't go too far in that direction. Though due to constant exposure to said "celebrities" people end up thinking they are normal, even fairly sensible people. You see something enough and it looks like reality, even when it's completely and utterly manufactured (sort of like Pringles).

    I just hope this woman hires a really good nanny. Her child will need someone sane to raise him.

  10. I'm not even infertile and I had the same thoughts when I watched her show. 40? Anorexic? Chain smoker (you can see it around her lips)? And she just happens to fall pregnant the moment she decided "sigh....I guess"?

    That's either completely bogus and it took more work than they showed, or it is completely and utterly unfair.

  11. So did you close?!?! I'm on pins and needles here!

  12. I would like them to be forced to confront the fact that that sixth isn't just professional prostitutes and extreme athletes and people with an extra chromosome and those who started ttc over 50 - it's normal, healthy, risk-averse people with no STDs and no prior abortions. IT COULD BE THEM.