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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

sharing our story on television

the perfect donor documentary filming in los angeles
over a year ago, 
i was contacted by a production company in new york city that produces some widely recognized and popular reality TV shows. they were interested in doing a show on infertility. following different couples through their baby making journeys.

candidly, i was ecstatic because i felt like this show could spread some awareness and true understanding of what infertility is like and how devastating it is. whatever i could do to help them get this program off the ground, i was going to do it.

after a screening phone call and then a Skype interview with the producer, it seemed that the project was moving forward. initially, the producer thought it might work to film in my hometown and follow my husband and i and some other couples that i'd met through my local IF support group. so i connected the producer with couples in various stages of infertility - pursuing adoption, IUI, IVF, living child-free after infertility, surrogacy, etc. 

then after weeks of screening phone calls and Skype interviews with the other couples, the producer told me that she didn't think it was going to work. in order for the show to be entertaining, you have to have all different personality types represented. think sex in the city. she basically told me "it is not surprising that the women you connected us with are your friends because they are a lot like you". low drama and relatable. apparently, i am a carrie and my friends are too.

next we decided to explore whether the program could work if we expanded the project outside of my geographic area. so i gave the producer a list of bloggers that i thought represented a good cross section of both personalities and stages of infertility. honestly, i don't even know how far that went or if she even contacted any of them.

needless to say, the project fizzled and i'm sure the producer moved onto something else as i haven't heard from her in a while. big fat bummer for the infertility community in my opinion. 

fast forward to a couple months ago. i was contacted by two producers in california who are filming a documentary about egg donation called the perfect donor. they are filming egg donors, egg donor agencies. fertility doctors, intended parents, etc. they wanted me to participate in an interview and provide my perspective as a recipient parent. 

i've always been super open about our infertility journey. i believe, at my core, that it is important to talk openly about the topic to remove the stigma and prevent people from suffering in silence. these are two among countless other reasons that i've continued to share our story. 

but this felt different. with infertility it always felt like my story (well, mine and my husband's) to tell. with egg donation, it feels more like "our" story. it belongs to us, our donor and our unborn child. if i had decided to participate, i would definitely have made sure that K is okay with it. but i can't predict how our child would feel when he's older and this is his story too. once i put something out there, i can't take it back.

like most documentaries, i'm sure the producers want to try to show all sides and angles of egg donation. and candidly, there are some sensitivities and issues surrounding the topic - especially regarding donor anonymity, treatment of donors by agencies and the relatively unknown health risks for egg donors. at the end of the day, i couldn't get a good sense of what the producers' "agenda" was so i couldn't be certain that egg donation wasn't going to be portrayed in a negative light. i guess it was ultimately the lack of control on how our story could be spun or used that prevented me from participating. i felt like our baby boy's story is too beautiful to risk having it be part of any negative media about egg donation. 

all that being said, i'm pretty certain that our story will not be shared on television. however, i still have high hopes to someday to flip through the remote and see someone else's infertility being shared. it is an important topic and i'm so thankful for the people that are willing to give infertile couples a voice. 

22 comments:

JoJo said...

I personally think this would have been a wonderful idea. Drama in the IF world? It's more like an emotional rollercoaster and that's what viewers need to see. That's reality.

Whitney @ Southern Hope said...

I love that you are keeping things private, Jessah. I have so much respect for you.

P!nky said...

Wow, what an incredible story!!!

pocketofblossoms said...

even if you can't share it on tv, i'm sure your story has touched someone who can relate to your story through your blog. words are a powerful thing and you are very inspiring! keep being carrie :)

xoxo, kiely

Erika said...

I always wondered what happened with the (first) producer/series you mentioned. I chatted with them for over an hour last year, then never heard anything...guess they decided we were all too boring! Too bad...now the world is missing out on watching Millie grow up. Their loss! ;)

Charity said...

Sounds like you made the best choice. Good for you.

Krystal Sullivan said...

I'm sorry that the first project did not work out - it sounded like it could have been really interesting and helped a lot of people. I completely understand your reservations about not participating in the egg donation documentary. There are so many people out there with negative points of view that you want to protect your son, and that is very respectable.

Cristy said...

This is such a tough decision. On one hand, the exposure and breaking stigma on this topic is so important. But, on the other, you're right to be cautious about the agenda of producers. Their goal is to sell their show, not to promote the truth. And it can easily be flipped in a way that skews the truth and makes those involved seem crazy.

I think you made the right decision. But now I'm wondering if there is a way to get stories like your's out there....

Suzanne said...

I do hope that one day these stories start to come to light more and more frequently. I also had conversations and Skype calls with the New York production company. The stories we have are hard, and emotional and draining, but they are so beautiful too!! xoxo

AM said...

Very interesting. I think your story is so amazing, it would make for a great documentary. It's too bad the producers seem so concerned with obtaining a variety of personality types and not more focused on the story. Reality tv seems like it always wants to create drama of some sort, when in reality people just want to hear the genuine, real life stories of others. Your story is so heartwarming and inspiring that it deserves to be told in the way you choose. Hope all is going well and that you are feeling good. Best wishes!

Stephanie said...

That's pretty cool that you've been contacted multiple times to share your story! I hope one day it is heard near and far and that you can help remove the stigma that people have to suffer through alone.

Caroline @ In Due Time said...

Jessah! So awesome. I was wondering if/what ever happened with all of this! I love that you got to share your story and girl, I can't wait for you to share it with us (the video that is)!!!

Sunflower said...

I so much agree with your comment about it being "our story" in that yours and your baby's. That is one reason I have not told anyone other than immediate family about using a DE. I think its a decision that my child can make as she grows older and decide how much she is willing to share with the world and I will support her. The last thing I want is her telling me at 18 yrs old "Mom it was really nobody's business to know about it" - because once its out it cannot be taken back.

Aramis said...

I think I would feel exactly the same as you about doing something like this on egg donation. First, it's still not as widely accepted as IVF and I'd be a little afraid that the producers might misrepresent what angle they were going to present. You'd have no control over that. Second, you're absolutely right that this is your son's story too. I wouldn't know how our little guy would handle having his origins being "out there" so publicly. I think it's his story to tell if he wants to. But I agree that it would be good to have more info out there! Such a tough call.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessah, I've been following a blog called dontcountyoureggs.typepad.com by Maya Moskin, a LA based Pychotherapist and infertility warrior. Maya is an incredible writer and her blog is honest, inspirational, and so helpful with dealing with the struggle of creating a family. She is currently writing a book and working on an infertility documentary with her husband, Noah, a TV producer. She has clips on her blog of the many people they have interviewed for the film. They include all the various ways of building a family from IUI, IVF, egg/sperm donors, embryo adoption, surrogacy, and adoption. They haven't given a release date yet but I am so grateful that they are going to bring much needed awareness to the struggles of infertility. BJ

Elena @ baby Ridley bump said...

Awesome!! So amazing to be able to share your story and your voice for infertility!

Kristin DiCristofano said...

That would have been so neat! It's kind of a bummer that shows have to be dramatic to catch the attention of the public because I think you and your friends would have made a great show that would have helped a lot of people!

Kelly said...

You are lucky to have a support group in your area, as my husband and I do not. That is one of the many hard things about this journey for myself and my husband.

futureMom said...

I don't blame you for being cautious with sharing your story with the media. It would be nice to share, but you are right, you never know what kind of "spin" they may put on the story. Especially if they are trying to make it more interesting by adding "drama"-- it is in their best interest to sensationalize rather than normalize this process.

Elisha Kearns said...

I don't blame you one bit for being cautious to put your story out there like that. Your story is a beautiful one and like you, I wouldn't want to risk anyone tainting it. I respect you so much! xo

Sara said...

I was curious how you found a support group for IF. I am also in the Sac area and don't really know where to start.

Janna Renee said...

I think it's absolutely amazing that you are taking your sons feelings into consideration. I think you are making the most beautiful and motherly choice!!

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