Image: "How to Buy a Baby"
Wendy Litner’s new CBC series, How to Buy a Baby, is all too relatable for many Canadian couples. It aims to raise awareness on the commonness of infertility, shatter misconceptions and even find the humour in the process.
When I watched the trailer for How to Buy a Baby, I saw parts of my own fertility journey reflected back at me. Like many women, I've taken some unexpected steps down the path to parenthood.
I remember being sent to an infertility clinic at the "geriatric" age of thirty-five, arriving super-early in the mornings to get my menstrual cycles monitored on the way to work. I also remember all the gratuitous baby photos plastered on the wall and wondering if they encouraged hope or if it was just plain cruel to display them so brazenly.
Since I'd previously been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis in my twenties, I had already half-convinced myself that I'd never get pregnant naturally. I did, eventually (much to the surprise of my doctors and myself), but those countless clinic visits have always stuck with me. It was a surreal and slightly dehumanizing world, one where I often felt like an anonymous pair of ovaries, my self-worth determined by the number of follicles I had.
It's a feeling Litner knows all too well. Largely drawn from the lawyer-turned-writer's own infertility experiences, the achingly honest story of How to Buy a Baby is one that hasn't been told on television, despite the fact that one in six Canadian couples struggle to conceive.
"When I was going through infertility, nobody was talking about it, at least not in my circle," Litner says. "I just felt like I was being inundated with pregnancy announcements on Facebook. I was going through this colossal thing, but it almost felt taboo to bring it up. It was such a trying time, and it was strange to keep it under wraps. And as a writer, I just wanted to shine a light on it."
The show revolves around thirtysomething couple Jane (Meghan Heffern) and Charlie (Marc Bendavid), who have given up on making a baby "the fun way." When they're told that they need to go through IVF to become parents, they're determined to keep things light, but the heaviness of longing for a child soon becomes hard to bear.
What's interesting about this series, besides the way it helps normalize the infertility struggle so many Canadian couples face, is Litner's darkly funny approach to the material.
"I cope with everything through humour, so when my husband and I were going through this, we just made the decision to find the funny in it," Litner says. "I mean, having to squeeze your fat and have your husband give you injections just feels ridiculous."
Check out the original comedy series, streaming now on the CBC TV app and cbc.ca/watch.