Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So glad that I live in 2012

I've recently started watching the AMC series, Mad Men. Thanks to our lovely Netflix account I've been able to start from the beginning and slowly move my way through each season. (I just finished season two last night). Watching the characters go about their lives in 1960's America has made me feel very grateful for how much our society has evolved since then. I know there's still room for improvement but watching these emotionally repressed characters deal (or rather not deal) with heavy life issues really showcases how more open-minded we are in 2012.

One of the characters (picture-perfect housewife Betty) struggles to deal with her mother's death and her husband's infidelities. He flat out tells her that he doesn't want to hear about her grief over her mother. She is expected to provide a stress free home for him to unwind in at the end of the day (after he's done drinking at the office and fooling around with random ladies). Wow, poor Betty! In contrast, my husband has seen me display numerous emotional melt-downs and has always been there to listen and offer emotional support. We work together to keep our home (semi) clean and he never comes home smelling like liquor and perfume.

Another character (newlywed Trudy) struggles with infertility. She faces pressure from her parents to provide a grandchild and pressure from her husband to "stop worrying so much." She also is expected to provide her husband with a perfect home...and a perfect marriage. He doesn't want to hear about how much their infertility pains her, he expects her to keep "her issues" to herself. He does agree to see a doctor and openly gloats when his sperm analysis comes back normal (insensitive jerk!). Trudy gets excited about the possibility of adopting but he puts his foot down that he will not raise a stranger's baby (mega jerk!). Again, I am floored by the contrast to my own husband, who has been incredibly supportive throughout our whole ordeal.

My mom once told me that it was unusual that she and my dad didn't have children right away. They were married in 1965 and didn't become parents until 1968. She said at that time most people had children immediately after getting married, but she and my dad chose not to. She never really expounded upon that fact and I was fairly young when she mentioned this to me so I never delved any deeper. I really wish I had.

I've mentioned to my dad that I'm having trouble conceiving and he said my mom did as well. According to him she had PCOS and she "popped some pills" and a few months later a set of twins came along. I've mentioned this to my doctor and they have ruled out PCOS in my case, but I find it very interesting that my mom and I shared this infertility experience. I know that she had no trouble conceiving her next child (my brother was a bit of a surprise) and thereafter she went on the pill. I was mistakenly conceived many years later...I'm living proof that antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of the pill. :)

I wish my dad knew more details, but he's from a generation that didn't concern themselves much with "women's issues." Once again, I am so thankful for my husband, who actually knows what's going on with me. I also wish my mom and I had had a chance to compare notes. It must have been so difficult to deal with infertility in the 1960's. Judging by Trudy's fictitious experience and my mom's reluctance to talk openly about her real life experience, infertility support has really come a long way. I know it's still a very private issue for most couples and still carries some stigma, but it seems that there are more avenues for support nowadays. Books, blogs, support groups - we're so lucky to have access to these. I'm sure infertile women of past generations would have greatly benefited from contact with each other. I relish the opportunities that I have to communicate with my infertile friends (both online and in person). I honestly don't know how I would cope if I didn't have an outlet for my frustrations. 

I'm so thankful that I don't have to suffer in silence! 


  1. I'm currently working my way through the series too (as part of my "French studies" ... he he), and completely agree with your take on it, especially the infertility issues. It can be such a sad and lonely journey anyway, but especially when one is not (or less) able to share it.

    My parents were married nine years before I was born in the late 70s - unusual for the time, like you said. I often wonder if there is a story behind that. Perhaps I should ask!

  2. I wish we had netflix so I could watch this show that so many people talk about! I will say I too am glad that society has changed since those times. I work in a fairly male dominant industry and there is still the "good ole boys club" and it drives me insane.

  3. I'm behind you on MadMen. I'm still in season one! OOPS! But I feel the same way when watching shows like this. Even if it's dramatized, I can imagine it's pretty accurate for that time period. I remember a scene of some of the girls hiding in the bathroom crying (not over IF, but you know). Although I do that now, I can still openly talk about why I was crying with a number of people. I agree- we have come a long way, baby!

  4. My grandmother had my mother when she was 35, and it was a big surprise. I had assumed they'd gotten married older, but it turned out that they had gotten married in their 20s. My grandmother was told she'd never have children - my mom's best guess was that it was fibroids - but then she got pregnant when my grandfather returned from WW2. My mother tried to get pregnant just after getting married at 21, but it didn't work until she was 25. She never got a diagnosis, but I can't help but wonder if both of them had some endometriosis, like I did. Like you, I'm so glad to live in a different time.

    One of my infertile friends was in an elevator once at the hospital where she was doing IVF. There was an older lady in the elevator, and somehow on the short ride it came up that this friend was doing a fertility treatment. The older lady said she wished she had had all those options and that she would have used them. But it was a different time, and so she never had kids.

  5. My husband and I started watching this on netflix too. I am with ya, it's almost too hard to watch sometimes. So grateful to be alive in a time with women's rights, internet, and netflix!