Monday, February 24, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: "Mom" tackles egg freezing

Unrealistic treatment of infertility &/or pregnancy loss in popular entertainment is one of my pet peeves (and I'm sure some of you feel the same way).  I've blogged before when I've been annoyed by how a favourite TV show has handled the infertility (or, conversely, surprise pregnancy) of one the characters -- you'll find several posts here in which I rant about "How I Met Your Mother," for one example.  ;)  Both "The King of Queens" and "Rules of Engagement" ended with "miracle" pregnancies after infertility storylines  that included adoption in one case and surrogacy in another.  "The Big Bang Theory" granted "surprise" pregnancies to not just one but TWO major female characters who had previously expressed their intentions NOT to have children (Bernadette and, in the series finale, Penny).

Last week, it was "Mom"'s turn to make my eyes roll, lol. "Mom" centres on the dysfunctional mother-daughter duo of Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney)(both great in their roles) -- both recovering addicts/alcoholics -- and their friends from their Alcoholics Anonymous group, who help each other stay sober through various life crises and disappointments.

In this episode (season 7, episode 16), wealthy, perimenopausal, 40-year-old group member Jill (played by Jamie Pressley) fears she's running out of time to have a baby. Her new-ish boyfriend Andy is reluctant to introduce children into the picture just yet -- so Jill consults a fertility doctor and decides to freeze her eggs (! -- yes, her 40-year-old eggs...!)(at a price tage of $30,000!!)(now THAT I can believe, lol).  She goes through with the extraction, only to learn from her doctor -- via phone call while at the spa with her girlfriends -- that none of her eggs were viable.

A couple of points/questions here:
  • Would any fertility doctor worth his/her salt encourage a 40-year-old woman to freeze her 40-year-old eggs?? (particularly above all other options??)(without cautioning the patient about the very low chances of eventually having an actual living baby?). 
  • (This is a serious question, as my knowledge of egg freezing is not that detailed.)  Can they actually tell if your eggs are viable after they're extracted for freezing?? Do they test them first before freezing them? I know you can "lose" eggs & embryos during the "thawing" process, but freshly extracted eggs...??
I know this is "just" a TV show, and that scriptwriters take liberties in the interest of drama and time... but isn't this a big part of how fertility myths and misinformation get started and perpetuated? 

What I thought the episode did get right:  even if the details around Jill's egg freezing are rather fuzzy, she ultimately wasn't successful -- which is actually what happens for the vast majority of women (and most especially those over 40) who freeze their eggs or engage in other fertility treatments.

I also liked that Jill decides not to go home after hearing the bad news. She knows she can count on her friends to support her through this disappointment (as they have always supported each other), and so she stays to lean on them. :)  Not all of us are that fortunate, of course, but it's nice to think that some people are!

Generally speaking, I rather like that "Mom," despite its title, recognizes that the reality of the mother-child relationship can be rather different from the Hallmark ideal. Bonnie had Christy as a teenager & their relationship, while improved, is still prickly;  Christy was also a teenaged mom (and is actually now a grandmother!) whose children were featured in the initial seasons, but they have now distanced themselves from her.

Here's a Reddit thread about this episode.  While there's more than a few people speculating that Jill and Andy will adopt or use a surrogate, etc. (eyeroll), I'm glad to see at least one person ranting about cliches and tropes, lol. (I'd forgotten that Jill had a miscarriage in a past season.)

Do you watch "Mom"?  What did you think of this episode?

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here


  1. I haven't seen this episode, but I'm glad that the mistakes weren't accentuated by ensuring she got pregnant. I'm bracing myself for the eyeroll situations. I'm still annoyed by Cathy, and the Big Bang!

  2. I don't watch that show but there is definitely a lot of misinformation out there about egg freezing. I remember reading that the odds of a frozen egg leading to a live birth are crazy low.

  3. Ooof. I don't watch the show, but that's annoying. I'm glad they got the hefty price tag right, and the low success rate at older ages. But yeah, seems unethical to have someone 40 go through the expensive process! They can tell if eggs are viable, although I don't know if they typically freezer then immediately or wait to see what happens in the dish? I had a few friends who got a call after egg retrieval that there eggs degenerated before fertilization could be attempted, so I guess that's possible.

    And ewwwww to trite "surprise" pregnancies in storylines.