Wendy Litner‘s new CBC series, How To Buy A Baby, riffs from her own experience with infertility. The lawyer-turned-writer has spinned her personal struggles into a darkly funny series she hopes will shatter misconceptions about infertility and in vitro fertilization.
We caught up with Wendy this week.
SDTC: How closely does How To Buy A Baby parallel your own experiences?
WL: The series is based on mine and my husband’s experience going through in vitro fertilization; however, I incorporated anecdotes and experiences from a number of people. One in six Canadian couples struggle to conceive, so I hope it tells their story as well.
I hope couples who were able to make a baby the fun way still see themselves in this couple. While this particular marriage is under pressure due to infertility, we all must cope with relationship hiccups and roadblocks in our life’s plan.
The world in which the main couple, Jane and Charlie, live is definitely fictitious. In the series, Jane and Charlie are surrounded by humourless doctors and insensitive family and friends while my experience was very much the opposite. We worked with an incredible doctor who I trusted implicitly and we were so lucky to be surrounded by the most wonderful friends and family who were there for us through every negative test result.
What is the least helpful thing you have been told while you were struggling with infertility?
Someone once said to me that if God wanted me to have a baby, I would have a baby. As if people never seek medical assistance for medical problems! That always irked me. It is hard enough to struggle with infertility, let alone to think you are thwarting some divine will.
Why is there such a lingering reluctance to talk about infertility openly?
It is such a good question: when so many people are struggling, why is there such a stigma attached to infertility? It can be a difficult and awkward topic to bring up. As people share photos of their pregnancy announcements and their toddlers smashing birthday cakes (what is that?!), it can be really hard to put up your hand and say, “My private parts aren’t working properly!”
There is also so much raw and deep pain that comes with wanting a child you can’t have that it can be really difficult to talk about it when you are hurting so desperately. I would also feel a bit of guilt for feeling so deeply wounded about something so singular to me.
Thankfully, with celebrity endorsements from amazing women like Chrissy Teigen, I feel like infertility is having a moment now. Incredibly, more and more people are sharing their stories and giving voice to their pain.
How can we better support those we love who are experiencing infertility?
We can support those experiencing infertility by just listening to their story. I think people often feel compelled to help, but people struggling to have a baby know the options available to them to become parents. While I was going through infertility treatments, many people asked me if I had considered adoption. Of course I was alive to adoption as a possibility, but I wasn’t ready to think about it. I wanted to believe that infertility treatments would work for me and that I would get to have a pregnancy the way the person who often suggested adoption had.
What do you want people to take away from this series?
I hope this series will start a much-needed conversation about infertility and childlessness, both voluntary and involuntary. I hope those who are struggling will know they are not alone, as they see their story told. And not just as a Monica and Chandler sub-plot, but as the thrust of the story. Most of all, I just hope people enjoy watching the series and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
How To Buy a Baby is a CBC original comedy series launching November 13 on the CBC TV app and cbc.ca/watch.