Nope, I am not referring to the traits of a perfect man. I’m talking about a TV show.
This week’s season premiere of How I Met Your Mother on CBS had two of the main characters begin trying to conceive their first child. Mr. BlakesNewFace and I love this show. And we enjoyed this episode like we have all of the others. However, the topic made me wince in more than one place.
Deciding to try to conceive and taking action on that (ahem) task is actually very funny when you think about it. And they covered it well.
There were some parts where there was an uncomfortable shadow over our living room as we watched, though - particularly the instance in which the character, Marshall, remembers (and the audience sees) his co-workers’ reaction to him heading home to do the deed. They cheered him on, had a sign hanging that said something like “Go! Get your wife pregnant!”, and gave him high fives like the member of a basketball team heading onto the court for a big game. This bugged me because of the inference of it being the husband’s responsibility and that it is some sort of ability or talent men are given at birth. I think that this correctly portrayed society’s wrong way of thinking. A man’s masculinity is not defined by his ability to conceive. I’m not saying the scene wasn’t funny. It was. But I think it is this kind of thinking that leads men to feel less than, well, men, if there is a problem with infertility.
Another scene depicted Lily and Marshall discussing why she didn’t want him telling everyone they were trying. She was afraid of what would happen if they couldn’t get pregnant. There was nothing wrong with this scene. But it sure did hit home. It is just a painful subject. Even on a 30 minute comedy.
All in all, the writers and actors did an excellent job with the subject matter and made a sensitive topic funny. It is such a hard subject to talk about and to see portrayed. And I know that if you have never experienced infertility, you probably wouldn’t recognize any issues and probably think I am being overly touchy. Maybe I am. But I don’t think so. I think anyone with the same background probably sat there with the same emotions while watching.
I read a post this week about infertility being a “silent disease”.
““Days like Mother’s Day are very painful for someone with infertility,” [Levine] says. “Holidays are tough, too. I would encourage moms to make Aunties feel special now and then.””
I get emotional over a sitcom, so imagine the effect on me (and others) around the holidays. I realize now that it is ok to feel that way. It isn’t silly.
If you are experiencing infertility, know that you aren’t alone. Talk about it when you are ready. It has taken me several years. And I still don’t always feel like I will be understood.
If you know someone that is experiencing infertility, be there for them. Let them come to you, but don’t walk on eggshells around the topic. If there is ever a question, it is better that you ask than just assume they don’t want to talk about it.