Unbearable: My Response To Susan Sarandon’s Awful Fertility Advice

Susan SarandonHaving a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

All of you trying-to-conceive women out there who are struggling through daily fertility testing, paying thousands of dollars in the hopes to get pregnant, Susan Sarandon has a piece of fertility advice for you. Stop worrying about actual medical advice, just run to Italy and get it on in public. Seriously, Sarandon, who struggled with endometriosis and therefore should be understanding about fertility issues recently said, “Go to Italy… Don’t worry about it, eat, drink and **** and you’ll probably get pregnant. And that’s what happened with Eva on the Spanish Steps.”

Wow. Let me book my plane ticket. Gee thanks for cluing me in on the secret.

I’m sure that Sarandon wasn’t trying to downplay anyone’s difficult time, but this type of conversation still bothers me. It’s so close to the, “Just relax and stop stressing,” comments that infertile women have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Every time we open up about our problems having kids, someone inevitably suggests that you stop worrying and a baby will come any day now.

These types of comments belittle the serious emotional impact of infertility. Women trying to have kids routinely struggle with depression and anxiety. Infertility can end marriages and deplete your finances before you ever have a child. For many women, this isn’t a simple matter of, “Go have some good sex and you’ll be fine.”

We’ve tried that, Susan Sarandon! Maybe not in Italy, but I promise you that I haven’t been sleeping in bed alone and wondering why I don’t have a baby yet.

I realize why people want to give advice in the face of serious problems like infertility. When confronted with an emotional situation, your first impulse is normally to try to help. I know that feeling. I realize that it’s not meant as an insult. But please try to understand that for a woman who has spent months or years trying to achieve what nature always told her was possible, your advice is a slap in the face.

It’s as if you’re saying, “Oh no, you missed something. I know you’ve been at this for a year, crying in a ball every time your period rolls around, but if you just would’ve calmed down and stopped stressing, this all would’ve worked out.” This isn’t a simple problem. And suggesting a simple solution acts like it is.

All this being said, when I’m confronted with useless advice, I generally don’t yell at the person who offered it. Although I can’t guarantee that I won’t write about it on the internet. My normal response is to give a fake smile and change the conversation. Why wouldn’t I explain that all the shallow advice doesn’t help?

By the time you’ve told me to “Enjoy all the sex,” or “Stop trying,” I’ve decided that you aren’t someone I want to discuss this with. At this moment, you become another person that doesn’t understand. That may not be fair, but it’s the best way I know how to deal with an emotional situation that I can’t quite explain to those who haven’t been through it.

Infertility is a complex problem, and even if Susan Sarandon believes that there was a simple solution for her’s, that doesn’t mean that any other woman has to feel the same way. It’s a personal and emotional journey, trying to conceive. No one should make you feel like it’s not a big deal.

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  • Kate

    It was just a jokey comment!! It wasn’t meant as actual advice or for anyone to take it seriously! Honestly perople who complain about this sort of thing obviously have way too much time on their hands.

  • Kate

    Mommyish articles are 99% negative/argumentative / defensive/ whiny. especially this author and non-mommy Koa

    • Frances

      Wow! I guess you should stop reading Mommyish and go back to being a cunt in real life!

    • Vmrs

      I AGREE!!! MommYish blog people are whiny!!

  • taz

    I don’t think she wrote this in a medical journal…she probably said it while doing press for some movie after being told to ‘keep it light and fun’. I don’t think she needs to be the face of the struggles of infertility!

  • Avodah

    Lindsey’s articles are probably the worst. She finds a small quote, takes it out of context and writes a poorly written article. I don’t think Susan Sarandon was trying to give people medical advice…

    • Frances

      This was clearly an essay, meant to be based on personal feelings. She wasn’t saying that Sarandon was trying to give medical advice, she was saying Sarandon’s trite and cliche advice that almost all women who are trying IVF hear, was annoying to her.

      And this is coming from me, a woman who has mixed feelings about IVF period.

  • Pix

    So, I don’t really have opinions about Susan’s comment or Lindsay’s response one way or the other, but I am curious…

    To Kate, Kate, taz and Avodah,
    Have any of you suffered through long term fertility problems?

    To anyone who has suffered through long term fertility problems,
    What is your reaction to Susan’s comment and/or Lindsay’s response?

    • Frances

      Every commenter up to this point but you makes me want to punch a wall due to their stupidity. Your reasonable comment saved my living room wall from some unwanted abuse. lol

    • Avodah

      Are they considered “long-term”? Lindsey has a child already. However, I can never keep track of who the father is.

    • Pix

      @ Avodah

      I debated about whether to bother responding to your comment since you didn’t answer my question and instead chose to make a strange comment which I think was supposed to be an insult of some sort…

      But you brought up a relevant question. What is “long-term?” When I wrote long term I meant more than just a few months of “darn, not pregnant yet.” I meant long enough to start to make you worry that there is a significant problem standing in the way of having a child you desperately want.

      I just think it’s worth remembering that Lindsay’s reaction is coming after a long stretch of worrying and waiting, followed by the thrill of finally being pregnant, and then the heartache of losing both the baby and a fallopian tube (and those tend to be pretty darn important when you’re trying to have a baby).

      You may feel that she overreacted to Sarandon’s comment and that’s fine. But maybe there’s a reason that you could shrug off the comment when someone else didn’t. ‘Unbearable’ is a series specifically about the thoughts, experiences, and emotions of someone struggling with problems conceiving. So perhaps, instead of just pointlessly bashing the author because she doesn’t see things the same way you do, you could recognize that that’s the point.

      If you’re reading articles thinking that the whole point is to decide whether the author is “right” or “wrong,” then I think you’re missing out on a huge part of reading other people’s work. You can discover how people’s personalities and experiences affect the way they see things.

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