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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

hostile uterus

These are the words that Meredith Grey said over and over again during last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy.

I knew I'd hate how they would handle their bandwagon-jumping infertility subplot. I knew it before this season began. In the final episode of last season, Meredith finds out she's pregnant, then promptly miscarries while Derek undergoes a life-saving surgery after he is shot by a disgruntled widower of a former patient. Did you follow that? In equally dramatic fashion, someone in the OR says, "Meredith, you're bleeding." Because, uh, you know miscarrying always means gushing blood out of your vagina for all to see. Meredith replies, calmly, "I'm having a miscarriage." Because, also, you would know you are having one immediately. And you'd be calm about it. That was that. The season ended.

Obviously, the topic continued into this season, and I told several people after the premiere that I "wouldn't be surprised" if they used the miscarriage as a way to work infertility into the storyline. After all, I'd read somewhere that one of the show's creators experienced IF. Not to mention the fact that IF has become an incredibly popular topic as of late in popular media - books, TV, and movies. So, imagine my lack of surprise when the preview for last week's show displayed Meredith and Derek sitting in an OB's office. Despite the two weeks plus of shows building on my DVR, I skipped right to Grey's, curious to see how they would handle this situation.

At the beginning of the show, we sit inside of Meredith's OB's office when she and Derek learn that she suffers from a hostile uterus. She then parades around the hospital repeating this phrase throughout the episode. The closing scene shows Mere and Derek in bed at the end of the day, and Derek gives a "poetic" speech:

"Here's what we're gonna do. No more doctors, no more labs. You and I, we have a lot of sex. Maybe we make a baby, maybe we don't. Maybe you get Alzheimer's, maybe you don't. Just screw the odds, screw science. Let's just live. Whatever happens, happens. Me and you. Okay?"

Seriously? Let's rewind:

Issue #1: No doctor in his or her right fucking mind would ever tell a patient that she has a hostile uterus. That's not a diagnosis. Hostile cervical mucus, maybe. But not uterus. I'm going to give the writers of this show the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were referring to natural killer cells. Maybe?

Issue #2: If in fact the writers were referring to natural killer cells, this diagnosis would not 1) come at an OB's office or 2) come several months after suffering only one miscarriage. Either the writers skipped a few steps (like, uh, years and other losses) or they have no clue how this process works. I think I'm leaning toward option two.

Issue #3: Who walks around saying, "I have a hostile uterus" as if it's like having a migraine or a backache? Meredith is incredibly blase about the entire thing, and so are the rest of the characters. As if it's no big deal. As if it's a joke. Okay, so maybe some people act this way when they are diagnosed. But no one I know. Did any of you react this way?

Issue #4: Derek's monologue at the end has multiple issues. First, this sounds like something a person would say after YEARS of doctor's visits and labs. Not after one appointment earlier that day! It's not a "snap your fingers and it's over" thing. It's a "let's sit down and discuss this and come to a conclusion over some time" thing. Also, can we please NOT stereotype the "whatever happens, happens" bit? I fear how this will end: they let go of the baby dream and magically get pregnant. I get enough of that bullshit fairytale in my personal life. Can Grey's not make it any worse? The last thing any of us in this community need is, "Well, it happened for Meredith and Derek . . ."

Wake up and smell the roses, writers. This isn't how infertility works, and you clearly didn't do your research. What you are doing is perpetuating rumors and putting new, false information into the world about the ALI community - as if we didn't have enough of that going around. Rather than pulling shit out of your ass, perhaps you could have done a little Web browsing, read some blogs, and talked to a fertility doctor. Find out what it's like to go through something like this.

Instead, you've just made your show even more of a joke than it already is for a community of people who are tired of being the punchline.

51 comments:

waiting and wishing said...

ugh! I didn't see the episode, but I can imagine how infuriating it must have been to watch. Like you, I can see an "infertility" story line coming from a MILE away. I am still waiting for someone to do it well, with raw emotion.

Jen said...

Totally agreed! The once-great show has gotten lame enough without adding crap like this in!

Pre-Heated Oven said...

LIKE x a million

You hit all those nails right on the head. Every frickin movie or tv show conveys that same message when it comes to IF -- just relax and stop trying and it will happen.
UGH.

Elizabeth said...

I stopped watching Grey's when they were all bed hopping so much (back probably season 3 or so), but when Michelle posted her frustration about this episode on FB I just had to go to hulu to check it out.

And let me just say - YOU NAILED IT! I couldn't have written a better blog about the episode than you just did. It makes me mad that here's a show that gets watched by millions of people each week, and now they're putting such crappy information out there about IF.

Will the movie/television writers EVER do research? What a bunch of idiots!

Stephanie said...

I heart you. The hubs and I watched the episode. It was frustrating to say the least. But I suppose what more should we expect from a TV show...do you watch Rules of Engagement? They have the IF storyline too...first it was a surrogate and now they're looking at adoption.

Erin said...

I am glad I am not the only one that the episode made furious. I really don't think I will be able to continue watching if the whole "just relax" storyline takes place.

Jessica said...

We are on the same wave length today. I was just thinking about this same subject and thinking about all the tv shows that have brought IF into there story lines. One one hand I think the idea is great to bring IF into the light....BUT they aren't accurately portraying it.

I wanted to come through the TV when Derek said "whatever happens, happens". What a f**king joke!!

Oak said...

Bravo, well said. And thanks for making sure I delete this episode off my DVR before I watch it.

Rach said...

I watched it too. If they are going to continue the story line I hope it gets serious. Not played out as some joke with an Oops I can't believe we are pregnant ending.

ifcrossroads.com said...

Well you know how I felt about it. I wanted to rip my eyeballs out when I was watching the episode. Stupid, stupid, stupid

Rebecca said...

Definitely. Reminds me of the Friends where Monica and Chandler find out they're infertile. They say "your womb is hostile" or something like that, "my sperm is screwy" and then hug and say "Ok, let's adopt." Then, of course, they get matched within a pretty short period of time and take home surprise twins. It completely ignored any emotional issues and time that come with all of IF. I found it especially annoying knowing that Courtney Cox had experienced IF and IVF and miscarriage. It must have been really frustrating for her.

Dawn said...

Ugh. This reminds me of when I was watching a news story of Ocotomom this morning and the said "implant" embryos. I can't believe how much they get it wrong.

Calmly Chaotic said...

Grey's has been getting to me lately largely because it has become even more dramatic. Can't they just be happy for a minute? Last weeks' episode really bugged me especially Derek's comment. I mean really, is that all it takes? Very frustrating!

suchagoodegg said...

I stopped watching a while ago and was relieved I had as hubs continued to watch and informed me what was going on. UGH UGH UGH. You're totally right. They have millions of viewers and they have effectively perpetuated a half dozen stereotypes. It's disgusting. And honestly? It makes me really sad.

Jennifer said...

They skipped the step where she sobs unconsolably, screams at her husband, checks out of life and then courageously decides to try again, only to experience another loss, and another, more crying, therapy..etc. They also missed the part where trying again is terrifying because your only experience now is loss. Humpf. Bad, Bad Show...

It must have been so frustrating to watch that.

Marla said...

I don't watch Grey's. But, um, a hostile uterus? Is that something similar to a tilted uterus? Pretty sure it's not. Guaranteed they'll be preggers by the season finale. Sigh!

My So-Called (TTC) Life said...

Ohhh, my ears are burning reading this! I haven't watched Grey's in a long time but for them to downplay infertility like this just makes my blood boil! Grrr. Your post was awesome--I think you should write to those writers and tell them what idiots they are.

Do I Have to Be a D.I.N.K.? said...

I totally agree...I was rolling my eyes so much during the episode I thought they were going to get stuck!

Alex said...

Oh that's terrible! I don't watch Greys, but I hate it when TV shows do this with infertility - so annoying!

Prairie Anonymous said...

In response to your question about the hostile uterus - I've been told I have a deformed uterus. It was an awful thing to hear. Deformed. I have actually repeated that to myself a lot. I've said it out loud to others & then regretted it. The words are too jarring, it throws people.

The Steffens said...

Thank you for this post. That is EXACTLY what I thought when I saw the episode. You have one doctor's visit and decide to give up on doctors? These writers make me want to punch them in the face.

kayee said...

Nicely said! I literally just watched the episode and thought - Really? He must not give a shit about her getting pregnant. "Whatever happens, happens." What crap. If this were really life, the next episode would show Meredith crouching in a corner, crying after realizing that she got yet another period.

Basic Girl said...

So well said, I was so pissed when her "diagnosis" was a hostile uterus...i mean at least make it something real, this is a medical show afterall!! So frustrating. Are you watching Giuliana and Bill this season? Love it, but am dreading what's to come (since she came out and confirmed what happened).

determineddory said...

YEAH girl you tell it!!

Bobbi said...

Oh my gosh, I can't agree more on EVERYTHING you wrote. At the end of last season, I knew they'd somehow they'd tie infertility into the show, but last week's show was a DISGRACE!!! I couldn't stand it. I went to bed all uptight and my husband is like, "What's wrong?" LOL! It sounded too ridiculous to talk to him about, so I let it slide, but then you wrote this...and now I see that I wasn't the only infertile woman who saw the show as ridiculous and somewhat inappropriate. Thanks for the post!

Kelly said...

See, this is the problem and exactly why I didn't watch.

I'm SO DAMN TIRED of people being ignorant and, for those of us dealing with IF/RPL, in addition to dealing with our own shit, having to educate people. This freaking storyline is a slap in the face to any woman who has ever dealt with infertility or who has suffered a miscarriage. Not how it works AT ALL.

Life would be so much simpler if it really did just work like we all learned in health class. Damn health teachers. :)

Amanda said...

I agree with you Katie. I was rolling my eyes throughout the show. They act like it is no big deal....which makes me think they arent really that serious about having a baby.

Meredith's character said in an interview that there would be no baby this season.

Do you watch Private Practice? They have some infertility stuff on there....but it is never touched on that much.

Another Dreamer said...

I don't watch that show... and am feeling very glad right now that I don't. I think I would have been screaming at the TV. Ungh.

Willow said...

Such good points, and it is shocking that they didn't do any actual medical research for a medical drama. I really hope they don't end this storyline with a surprise pregnancy. I actually kinda think they won't, but who knows. Either way, I agree that they need to start treating this topic with the seriousness it deserves if they're going to include it al all.

lowfatlady said...

I totally agree. I was excited to see how they would deal with it, but they didn't do a very good job. I do remember at the end of the episode Meredith told little Grey that she had a lot of fibroids and that is why her uterus is hostile. Even still, if she had a lot of fibroids, wouldn't she be booked for surgery?

Kaitake said...

I agree with what you say. Especially the bit about Meredith's reaction to her diagnosis - NO! You do not calmly take it! YES! You do fall to pieces over and over again.

But hey, we can never expect too much from fiction. They have flying cars in fiction. Where is MY flying car already?? :P

Secret Sloper said...

GRRR!!! I haven't watched Grey's in ages, and I'm glad I don't now because this storyline sounds AWFUL!!

Honestly, Katie, you should write to someone at the show and let them know what a sham this storyline is and how disgusted you are. Fuck them.

CW said...

Great blog Katie - good return. It BREAKS my heart when infertility gets dealed with in such a blase manner. You hit the nail on the head completely. Because yeah - i go around work all day mumbling to myself I can't get pregnant, I have a hositle uterus. Who tells everyone their life story after 5 minutes of TTC. Perhaps you should write to them to let them know they are alienating 20% of the population with their riduclous story lines and if they want a real one you know you could write it for them.

JL said...

I'm expecting a cross-over with Private Practice where only Addison and Naomi can get Meredith pregnant.

It makes me want to puke.

cOLey24 said...

I could not have said this any better myself. It definitely turned one of my favorite shows into an annoying reminder that I am not going to be part of that "fairy tale ending" that you allude to. We all know that they'll magically get pregnant and everything will end happily ever after. If only it worked that way, and if only it were that easy, right? I feel like Private Practice already covered this topic like 3 seasons ago. Anyone with me?

imfatgirlslim said...

How frustrating... the only show that has portrayed infertility in a somewhat-realistic light in my opionion was Charlotte's infertility struggle in Sex and the City...

L x

jennifer @ What Would Jen Do said...

on Friends she had an inhospitable uterus, i'm not even sure that exists.

JC said...

Agreed 100%. I was like wtf also! Not real at all. And my prediction is she will get Christina to carry their baby for them...wolla. No matter what they do I'm sure it won't be even close to what happens in real life.

S.I.F. said...

OK, so the minute they said "Hostile Uterus" I remembered that's what Monica's diagnosis was on Friends (and they had just as many jokes about it then too!) That's the ONLY other time I heard that term, but when they said it on Grey's I started thinking maybe this was a real diagnosis and I had just never heard of any real people having it.

Yes, I actually thought that. With all the blogs I've read and all the stories I've heard, I figured that maybe this diagnosis that was seeminingly popular enough to be featured on two different shows had somehow just managed to evade all the infertile women I have since come into contact with.

Yes, I'm naive like that.

So, what do you think it is? I mean, is "Hostile Uterus" just the go to IF phrase in Hollywood because it's fun to compare a strong womans uterus to her stern nature and make it seem like that and that alone could keep her from conceiving?

I don't get it. Where did that diagnosis even come from, and how was it featured on two big time popular shows?

Also, I love One Tree Hill, and they have a character who has been dealing with infertility this last season too. I actually do love the way she deals with it, and she makes snide comments sometimes that would TOTALLY be things that would come out of my mouth. BUT, they have never given a diagnosis at all. All they ever say is that she can't have babies. At all. No hope. But no diagnosis. It freaking drives me crazy, because it just doesn't work like that! And even if she did have something where it DID work like that, you would think they could at least give that condition a name and bring attention to it...

So annoying.

waiting for baby said...

I quit watching greys like 2 seasons ago, but really appreciate the update! How annoying! They shouldn't have kids anyways they are too self involved. Jeez one doctor visit and Derek is ready to throw in the towel. He sounds real supportive.

Conceptionally Challenged said...

Er. I am glad I don't watch TV sometimes.
And "whatever happens, happens" -- really? That's some sort of truism. But I know what you mean, and it is so annoying.

Conceptionally Challenged said...

Hey, maybe you should send a link to this entry, and all the comments, to the producers...

bumpsalongtheway said...

I think it is easier for the world to push aside the issue and say, "oh, it's no big deal." I hope that there are enough individuals in the IF community complain. It would be awesome for real IF issues to be portrayed in the media and on TV so people of the world would start to understand what emotional process TTC can be.

Sara said...

Amen, sister! I couldn't agree more. I actually didn't see the episode but did see previews for it. I stopped watching Grey's two seasons ago because it just made me too stressed out. That much drama can't happen all the time to the same people. And now if they are not being respectful of IF and getting the truth out there...screw them.

Ashley said...

I totally agree! I thought the same thing when she was running around the whole episode just declaring to anyone that asked what was wrong. I definitely never did that. Although I do know one girl who was VERY open with her struggle and she proclaimed on facebook after every appointment. But I don't think most people cope that way. And the end conversation with Der and Mer definitely irritated me. It is very unrealistic that after one appointment you would just say "whatever happens, happens."

Anonymous said...

it is just tv people

Waiting Lisa said...

I'm pretty sure my uterus was hostile. It was actively trying to kill me over several years. That's why I had to kick it out.

But my doctors insisted on using medical language instead of calling it like it was. hehe :)

The creator has been hinting at it turning into an adoption storyline. I am holding out hope that is what happens. And that it's a good one. (I know, that's asking for a lot.)

The creator and I get into a twitter argument over a Private Practice episode a couple weeks ago. I'm still frustrated with it.

Waiting Lisa said...

I was thinking about this more and I wanted to say that the show Brothers and Sisters does a great job at infertility and adoption storylines.

myinfertilitywoes said...

Oh, this touched SUCH a nerve with me too! How the heck are they already diagnosing her? It's not like they've been 'trying' for a year! I actually did get called something similar, though - an inhospitable uterus - because of my fibroid. So, I could kinda understand her walking around saying that because after they told me that my uterus was inhospitable, I went around saying that!

And, yes, PLEASE do not let them say 'oh whatever' and then they get pregnant. That would be ridiculous. Much as I hate anyone going through this, it would kinda help to have them struggle with this for awhile and have to do treatments or adopt.

It made me think about how I was really, really upset at that movie Did You Hear About the Morgans? who were experiencing infertility and therefore marriage probs, and of course, once they decide to adopt, they got pregnant. It REALLY urked me. And what urked me even more was that Sarah Jessica Parker was the main character, who had been unable to conceive - you'd the writers might have been more sensitive or taken HER story into consideration and NOT have her be pregnant at the end (sorry if I just ruined the movie for you...)

Ok - done venting. You hit a nerve with me on this one! :)

Anonymous said...

I just want to say I totally agree with everything you said in your blog, I always tell people that you have no idea about infertility or miscarriage unless youve gone through it. I myself suffered a miscarriage, and still after 2yrs cant get pregnant. But these shows do this all the time, they never research, they put shit out there that isnt right or misleading and we are suppose to just expect it cause its tv? I dont agree, if you want people to relate then get it right!

Humberto said...

This is fantastic!