news item: Giuliana Rancic on infertility at age 35 – “It was a big shock”

So, I don’t really know who Giuliana Rancic is.

Well – sort of. I know of her, but I have never seen her on TV. Mostly because I don’t have TV. I do know who Bill is though, having been insanely addicted to the first season of The Apprentice, approximately 100 years ago. What I know of Giuliana has been gleaned from blogs (both gossip and ALI) and the covers of magazines at the grocery store checkout. I had a vague knowledge of their struggle with infertility, miscarriage, and her battle with breast cancer last year, but again – only a cursory understanding from the pink headlines of the high-quality journalism of People and its cohorts. I have never seen her on TV, or seen their reality show. I did read up on Wikipedia though, and somehow completely missed the story of how they brought their son home this summer. Cue two hour internet vortex – wow!

My point is, when I first read this article last week, I was pleased to see something in the media about infertility, about a famous person no less (!) discussing actual issues surrounding not only the disease state of infertility, but the accompanying emotions as well. Is the article brief and perhaps overly simple? Yes. Is it sensationalized in the same way that say, a recent episode of a popular talk show chose to portray the issue? No.

This tidbit (highlighted in the headline!) was of particular interest to me:

No one ever told me, ‘Oh, by the way, your eggs change when you reach a certain age,'” Rancic told the magazine. “I didn’t think 35 was old! So when the doctor said, ‘It’s not as easy as you thought it would be,’ it was a real blow.

Before I started working in IF in a professional capacity, I used to think this. I thought I had until I was 40 until things started getting difficult. FORTY. Until, at age 26, I discovered that I was dead wrong. Since then, I have been through reams of clinical data that demonstrates that fertility does indeed begin to steadily decline after age 35, even in “healthy” women. This is basic information that women should know before they begin to worry about their fertility, and I am happy to see it being highlighted here in a more or less non-alarmist fashion. So… well played Today.com. (And though I do not watch it, I gather from the social media I use that sometimes the mark is sorely missed by this program as far as ALI issues go.)

I also appreciated reading that she was glad that her struggles were there for others to see. That surprised me, though again, I have never seen the show. As we know, ALI issues are not always (or generally, in my opinion) handled with the greatest of sensitivity or accuracy in the media. That being said, the “Fertility Math?” survey/article the article links to would just NOT OPEN for me, so I hope it is of a similar tone.

Generally speaking, I do not believe that “any press is good press” when it comes to ALI – not when myths or stereotypes are propagated, or the 1% outlier cases are used to sensalizationalize the 1 in 8 couples struggling with this disease every day. Colour me surprised to read an article where none of it curled my lip even a little. Feels good, especially given that my prior knowledge of Giuliana is limited at best. Then again, I didn’t clink the link to their (Today Health’s) Facebook page. I learned not to read the comments a long time ago…

*****

What did you think of this article? And the linked article (if it worked for you)?

What did you know about women, age, and fertility before you began your TTC journey?

Are you familiar with Giuliana Rancic? What do you think of her efforts to educate the public about IF/loss?

Do you think “any press is good press” when it comes to ALI issues? Why or why not?

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Comments

  1. I used to watch their show, “Giuliana & Bill” when they were going through IVF and their miscarriage. I was hooked– I wasn’t doing IVF, but I felt such a connection to them, like “WOW, this is really on TV? These people who are beautiful and rich and famous are stuck in the same place we’re stuck in? How is it possible that she is like me?!” and I just loved them. I was so excited when I heard they were having a baby through a surrogate, and when their son was born! I remember wondering what name they’d picked out because they weren’t sharing, and then I thought, “Hey, let them have their secrets. They’ve shared so much of this with all of us; this part is theirs.”

    Since you didn’t see the show, I’ll add that it was definitely edited and all that, but still pretty raw to a degree– there’s only so much sugarcoating you can do with a m/c and OHSS when it’s from a “reality show” perspective. I cried during the m/c episode. They’re real people, you know? It was a real loss, not a “TV loss,” and I think the show was respectful of that (I should add that Bill is an executive producer on the show– don’t remember if Giuliana is as well– so it’s “their” show; they aren’t just characters in it).

    So since I have “a history” with them, I’m inclined to like the article, but in all fairness, I think it’s a good article in its own right. I really respect the way in which Giuliana continues to share and share with everyone, through IF and loss and cancer, and she just seems so honest and fair and like she really wants to spread awareness. It’s an exhausting experience to go through and I admire that she hasn’t shut down and retreated a bit– though she’d be perfectly within her rights to do so.

  2. I’ve actually been watching the show for quite some time. I went through IVF and had a failed cycle. I think it was refreshing to see a celebrity share their infertility battle – because so much of what they were facing was just what so many of us have. I remember realizing that PCOS wasn’t so bad when I realized I wasn’t alone. There’s so much grief, pain, and emotional turmoil with the IF battle, it’s comforting to see people willing to share their battle.

    What did you think of this article? And the linked article (if it worked for you)?

    I liked the article….but then again – I like the show. I’ve always known about the 35 year old line in the sand with fertility.

    What did you know about women, age, and fertility before you began your TTC journey?

    I knew that my reproductive system was crap. I knew the sooner I harvested eggs the better – if I was going to go that route. And I knew that getting pregnant and staying pregnant would be incredibly difficult.

    Are you familiar with Giuliana Rancic? What do you think of her efforts to educate the public about IF/loss?

    I am familiar and I’m glad she’s doing what she’s doing.

    Do you think “any press is good press” when it comes to ALI issues? Why or why not?

    I think any press is good. So many women suffer in silence because there’s shame associated with IF. Making it public takes away the silence and normalizes the challenges we face.

  3. I always kinda found Guiliana annoying but really admired her for putting IF in a realistic light on her show. I watched the miscarriage episode while I was waiting for the misoprostol to kick in on my third miscarriage, and it made me feel better. Having said that, I was SUPER DISAPPOINTED when Guiliana was interviewing an “older” actress on the red carpet last year and asked her if she was going to have any more kids. Have we learned nothing from this experience, G? Don’t ASK people that!

  4. I have never watched their show, but I have read about it several times and always felt that what they were doing was raising major awareness for IF. Everyone in my family liked to tell me what Guiliana was going through when I’d mention our cycles (you know, to give me hope – like Celine Dionn), so those discussions made me very aware of just how much the Rancic’s were sharing with the public. I appreciate that about them – that they just put it all out there in a very real way.

    I absolutely love Bill Rancic. I lived and breathed the Apprentice in its first season and really liked him. Turns out that he came and spoke at a conference I attended just after Matthew was born – and this was just 4-5 days after Guiliana’s cancer diagnosis. The audience showed compassion, asking how they were both doing, but no one mentioned the IF. I found that interesting, for whatever reason. As I sat there listening to him talk about hope, all I wanted to do was go up to him afterwards and say, “Bill, I’ve been there with the IVF. It sucks, but most of us succeed. I pray that you’ll be successful.” But I did not. That would have been weird. But it was the strangest desire I’ve ever felt when it comes to wanting to speak to a perfect stranger.

    I don’t believe that all press is good press for IF. But any press the Rancic’s want to give it – I welcome it! And I thought the article was great!

  5. Yep: any press is good press certainly does NOT apply to infertility. The subject is quite possibly the biggest challenge I’ve ever seen as a former PR person. So many possible angles to pursue, so many of them fraught with sensationalism, that the media is often guilty of representing the 1%. We talked about this a lot on the latest podcast of Bitter Infertiles. From my experience working with the Ricki Lake show producers and their willingness to publicize Faces of ALI, I learned that all of our stories are actually extraordinary: there is so much bravery and hope and strength of heart in all of our stories. Maybe it’s a matter of just getting them out there and told. Our stories. The stories of the 99%.

  6. I know Guliana Rancic only as “that celebrity who had a reality TV show about infertility… or something or other like it.” I think the article is pretty good and is the sort of PR we need as a community, but we need coverage of what regular people who have similar experiences go through (like I’d wager financial considerations never went into the decision about what treatments to pursue). Kudos to them for being so public and real about the whole process though.

    I knew a lot about fertility before we started TTC but that’s because we knew to expect MFI and also autism, so children early in life was important because we knew it wouldn’t be simple. I’d say I had to really look to find good information though because the popular media is either scaring women about biological clocks ticking or belittling efforts at education. I have a cousin who’s 10 years older than me and is still childless on purpose, but I never know how to open that conversation to say “don’t wait forever! It might be too late now!” without coming off preachy and annoying and easily ignored.

  7. Amazing article, am really not aware of that TV show but surprised and glad to know that infertility issues on TV. Great concept for creating awareness as infertility is a serious issue in our society.

Trackbacks

  1. […] and comments came in. There was no negativity. And it made me wonder: perhaps there needs to be a SHIFT in the way the story is told to the […]

  2. […] Sarah weighed in on how an article on Today Health discussing Giuliana Rancic’s struggle to have a baby was positive because it realistically discussed both the issues surrounding infertility and the accompanying emotions. What do you think – was it positive news coverage of ALI? […]

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