Monday, October 4, 2010

The Back Up Plan

Who has seen this movie?

Warning: I'm feeling controversial and...a little bit narky.

 A bit about me and movies...they are my escape. Whenever I am overwhelmed by reality, my antidote is to go to the movies, lose myself in the dark and choc-tops, and become part of the story on the screen.
Which brings me to another (very trivial, unimportant) way in which experiencing stillbirth has changed me forever as a person.

 I cant enjoy movies any more.

 Well, no, that's a blanket statement. I can no longer enjoy movies about babies, pregnancy and birth...which were my favourite kind. I cant enjoy them anymore from an escapism point of view...all these types of movies are absurdly and cringe-worthily (ha!) inaccurate. Well, they always were, of course. But now, I can no longer appreciate them as light entertainment.

 Lets dissect The Back Up Plan as an absurd baby film.

 Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has reached a point in her life where she wants to have a baby. She doesnt have a may-an though. She decides to take matters into her own hands (you go, girl) and undergo IUI (Intra-uterine Insemination) with donor sperm. She's on the path to (single) motherhood! She can do this, see, because she owns a pet shop and is scarily financially secure for a single woman in her early 30's.
Bam, one IUI transfer later, Zoe's pregnant! Post insemination, she waltzes out of the Cryobank, on Cloud Nine. She's happy. She has taken her future into her own hands and made it happen. Until the man she is destined to be with rips off her taxi. Wait...can someone smell a cynic? My apologies.
On the very same day as her insemination, Zoe meets Stan. As I romantically put earlier, they get into a taxi at the same time, in the rain (of course) and Stan, gentleman that he is, refuses to get out. He's made an impression on Zoe. So much so, that when she accidentally bumps into him at the grower's market, they are well on the way to falling in love. Well, my interpretation is that he coerces her into a date.
As you do, ten minutes before a date with a dishy guy, Zoe does a pregnancy test. (It's the best time to do one, isnt it?) Of course, Stan rings the bell before Zoe can read the result, and by the time she gets back to the test, her two-legged dog has eaten the stick with her urine on it.
Fast forward, Zoe IS indeed pregnant, she REALLY likes Stan and is in a bit of a pickle, so to say. What does one do in this situation? The guy or the baby? The guy...who you met a week ago, and is obviously The we ALL know is, after one week. Or the baby...the baby, already firmly ensconsed in your womb, thriving, on which that you spent upwards of $7000 being procedurally inseminated...that you wanted SO BADLY that you were willing to sacrifice everything for single motherhood (at the time).
What to do, what to do?
(Disclaimer: I am pro-choice. But I am just trying to point out the absurdity of such a "dilemma.")

 The answer is simple. Well, it is if you live in reality. My (very vocal) response to this "dilemma" was this:

 Good God, lady. You're only 5 weeks pregnant. Just take the next 7 weeks to see...
  • Where this relationship with Stan the Man goes
  • If you even make it to 12 weeks and sustain a viable pregnancy. J.Lo, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • If you do make it to 12 weeks, then broach the pregnancy subject with Stan in an honest and adult manner. Explain your fear of wilted ovaries and how your proactivity is actually an admirable quality. Give him some time to digest the information.
  • If he does a runner, then obviously, he wasnt The One you thought he was. And it is back to the way is started, you with a beautiful baby, who was first in the queue anyway.
  • If Stan sticks around, double bonus. Instant family. Boom.
The most pertinent feeling in all this was "J.Lo! Two lines on a stick doesnt equal baby. Just wait. Wait and see. You never know what will happen."

 When Zoe is 14 weeks, she starts buying up big in baby shops. She buys bottle teats (I wonder if she researched the benefits of breatsfeeding first?) and matching sailor suits (oh, yeah, cause she's having TWINS!) I watch these scenes from behind my hands. I yell at her to keep the receipts. I am such a party pooper.
She has a transvaginal ultrasound at one point, and when the obstetrician removes the wand, it has BLOOD on it! Now look, perhaps this is normal. The Hollywood OB seemed to think so. J.Lo didnt seem worried. But I KNOW that if I had a transvaginal ultrasound and there was blood on the wand, I would have a heart attack. ANY sight of blood in pregnancy has the potential to make my lose my mind.
As for Zoe's diet. Well. She eats hotdogs from Grey's Papaya. Hotdogs are high on the Listeria risk sheet. As are McFlurry's from McDonalds. but she eats those. She drinks champagne. And...this is the cracker. (Oh, I forgot to mention that Stan is a stand up guy and ends up sticking around to raise J.Lo's sperm donor's twins). Stan makes goats cheese for a living. On a farm. With little/no pasteurisation procedures. Granted, I never see Zoe eat any. But who knows? It just seemed a weird profession for her boyfriend to have...Goats Cheese Connoisseur. Of all the things, he was King of Listeria.
Ah, the birth scenes! My favourite. There are two.
Zoe attends the homebirth of one of the members of her single mother's group. Ive never seen a homebirth. So I dont know. But I gather that it is pretty similar to a hospital birth, except that it is at home? Do 12 women walk around the house chanting tribal tunes while beating a drum? Does the mother scream obscenities at everyone within earshot? Is it usual to release your bowels in the birthing pool before Stage 2 pushing has commenced? And then stay there? I am sure there was some comedic purpose to these events, but all is did for me was make it clear that this movie was projecting homebirthers as wild, out of control, pooing, drum beating hippies. It certainly wasnt shown as beautiful or peaceful, which I have heard homebirth is. There was grunting and shouting and swearing and people everywhere! This is in comparison to J.Lo's refined birth, she endured the entire thing in her bridesmaid's dress. Because, as she danced in a Conga line at her grandmother's wedding, her waters broke and all her grandmother's geriatric friends went slip-sliding in amniotic fluid. Anway, her entire (first ever, twin) labour lasted the entire ride to the hospital (all of 20 minutes, I imagine), whereby she gets to hospital, lies back on the gurney in a very ladylike manner (her hair still looks fab) and all of a sudden, it's time to push! And she pushes those twins out in relative quiet, compared to her homebirthin' friend from earlier on.
Two beautiful girls are born, with red hair and freckles, despite J.Lo's obvious dominant gene Latina darkness. Stan lurves them, and Zoe and Stan get busy with baby number 3 very soon after.

 Does anyone want to offer me a job as a movie critic?

 Essentially, my two points are:
  • Hollywood needs to research more when making obsteric-themed films.
  • It is such a shame that my experience of stillbirth has tainted even light hearted rom-coms that even I know have little to no intelligent qualities...they are made purely for enjoyment.
But stillbirth never lets you forget.

1 comment:

  1. Also it seems that most movies seem to have babies or pregnancy in them at some point - I never noticed before. We went to see a comedian a couple of months after Matilda died and his wife was pregnant and he told us 'My wife is having a baby' and then said as part of a joke to follow 'We've had the scans - we know the baby's healthy'. And I'm just sitting there screaming inside 'A good scan is no guarantee you're bringing a baby home from the hospital'.