Wednesday, June 07, 2006

All hail the Chicks

Yesterday I caught a snippet of Fresh Air on NPR while going to pick up the kids. Terry Gross was interviewing the Dixie Chicks, and apparently I have been living under a rock, because they were discussing (in public! on the radio! without euphemisms!) the fact that two of the members have battled infertility and suffered miscarriages. They even included a song about the experience on their new album. A quick Googling reveals that they're making a point of discussing infertility and their eventual success using IVF.

You go, Chicks.

I've alluded to this before, but one of the hardest things for me about dealing with miscarriages and subfertility was just the huge cultural blanket of silence we put over those issues. Not only is the whole thing profoundly difficult to deal with, on many levels, but at the same time you're not supposed to talk about it. I strongly believe that this will only begin to change when individual women speak out and talk about fertility in the same way they would discuss any other important aspect of their life. Sign me up as appreciating the fact that the Dixie Chicks were open about their struggles and the fact that they used IVF. If more celebrities would admit that they take advantage of modern medicine to aid conception and pregnancy, maybe some of the stigma would be removed for the rest of us. (I know it's not their responsibility to be poster people for personal issues, but given that they take our entertainment dollars willingly, I wouldn't mind if they made the world a better place in return...)

Now, of course, I have two things about which to complain:

  1. I am a huge Terry Gross fan normally. She does her research, knows when to shut up in an interview and is respectful without crossing the line into sycophant-dom. However, she whiffed the infertility question with the Chicks. I don't remember the exact quote, but she noted that both of the sisters who'd dealt with infertility now had twins and seemed to think that was some kind of grand coincidence. "How funny! Do you think that your infertility was somehow related to the fact that you ended up with twins?" Uh, yeah, Terry, it's related.
  2. Upon the earlier-reference Googling, I ended up on a couple of message boards for twin parents. Since around 50% of twin births are due to ART, it's not surprising that a lot of the women on the boards had also gone through IVF. What was surprising to me was that some of them seemed to begrudge the Chicks their reproductive success. Yes, I'm sure they didn't have to worry about how many cycles it would take, didn't have to worry about the cost or whether their insurance would cover anything (because pregnancy is a "lifestyle choice" after all), didn't have to worry about lots of things that "normal" people do. However, they still had to deal with the emotional and physical cost, and they have come out publicly to talk about their experience. What more, exactly, would you want from them? I attribute the snarkiness to two things: the war comment controversy and our desire to take down celebrity moms.
Bottom line, the three members of the Dixie Chicks have seven children under six years old. That's going to be one crazy tour bus.

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