“Don’t you want to have your own child?” It’s a question that Maya Grobel used to hear often, before she gave birth to her baby girl, Momo. The question always left Maya feeling puzzled. “If this is not my child,” she wrote on her blog, dontcountyoureggs.typepad.com, “then whose child is it?… Who would be the parent on the birth certificate? Who would be changing diapers and wiping tears at 2am?”
But the question also made her consider the meaning of the word “own” in relation to a child. See, Momo was conceived through assisted reproductive technology, or ART. Maya and her husband of 18 years are one of the millions of American couples who turned to ARTs after struggling to get pregnant.
Infertility Is a Common Problem
The CDC defines infertility as the inability to conceive after at least one year of unprotected sex. It affects about 6% of married couples in the U.S.
As common as infertility is, however, couples still face the very real stigma that society attaches to conception via egg, sperm, or embryo donation. That’s one of the reasons why Maya and Noah decided to create a full-length documentary film of their 3-year journey to conceive.
Coping with Infertility as a Warrior Who Gets Back up Every Time They Get Knocked Down
“Infertility is a disease that affects almost eight million people,” Maya writes. “And yet insurance often refuses to pay for fertility treatments, treating them as some kind of elective procedure akin to getting a voluntary boob job.” Maya and Noah hope their film can work to reverse this injustice, and redefine the experience of a woman coping with infertility as “a warrior who gets back up every time they get knocked down.”
Maya, 35, suffers from Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Before having Momo, she’d been through two failed intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) and two failed in vitro fertilizations (IVFs), one of which borrowed donated eggs from her sister.
In the summer of 2014, Maya and Noah went out on a limb to try a frozen embryo transfer (FET). After years of trials and tears, and with a nearly depleted bank account, the anonymously-donated embryo took, and their much-awaited daughter had finally found her way home.
Another reason why Maya, a psychotherapist and social worker, and Noah, an unscripted television producer, decided to document their experience was to cope with the stress, uncertainty, and emotional upheaval that came with the struggle to have a baby. “[W]orking together to sort through the hundreds of hours of footage helped us build our trauma narrative and bond over the chaos of half a decade of our lives.”
What Does It Mean to Make a Family?
Momo isn’t genetically related to her parentsbut that doesn’t change the fact that she is 100% their daughter. Maya hopes that their film will shift the paradigm on what it means to make a family. Her message empowers couples who venture down the egg donor path to “be proud of their choice and move towards their new reality (hopefully), which is that they are going to have their own kid.”
The film, called One More Shot, follows Maya and Noah as they embark on an intensely personal, yet universally compelling journey through numerous interventions, a “touch-and-go-pregnancy,” and the harrowing birth of their daughter. You can watch the feature-length film on Amazon, iTunes, and Vimeo On Demand right now, or catch it on Netflix in 2018.
This brave film is encouraging. We are grateful to Maya and Noah for bringing so much compassion to infertility and the struggle to become pregnant. Let me know what you think. Thaïs