As a fertility physician, I am there for my patients to support, console, encourage, and as much as possible, work magic and create miracles, but I can’t be present in all situations. I can imagine the pain once a patient is alone at home or trying to keep it together at work or around friends as she processes a failed cycle or multiple disappointments. Much has been written about what a couple with infertility feels, but in the movie If I Could Tell You, the raw emotions come to life and are devastating. The main character, Abby, embodies many of the issues that fertility patients often grapple with.
For many with infertility, the overarching feeling is that they are broken and want to be fixed. They want answers but having them doesn’t always pave the way to fertility. Every effort to change something in themselves feels futile; for example, they may want to be less controlling but feel completely out of control. They often want to move on, but can’t seem to get beyond being fertility patients. They may consider egg or sperm donation or surrogacy, but sometimes partners can’t agree on this. Desperation may lead them to lie, cheat or deceive themselves or others.
In this movie, we can feel Abby’s pain and heartbreak of wanting something so badly that springs so palpably from her dashed dreams and inability to have any control over the outcome. We witness the distance between Abby and her partner that has grown as a result of their infertility. We are touched by how she cannot bring herself to celebrate another’s joy in being pregnant.
Desperately searching for a way to shift her circumstances, Abby goes to a seminar called, “Miracles and Breakthroughs.” This calls into question what the real miracle is…. and in the end, it may not be about getting pregnant.
This movie touched my heart and soul and should provide awareness to the plight of couples afflicted with infertility. But I also hope the film shows those suffering that the true miracle may be acceptance – understanding that how your life unfolds is not necessarily guided by what you know and can be sure of but instead by those situations that are beyond your control. As a fertility doctor, it’s always my hope for my patients that they find comfort in knowing they are not alone and that an infertility diagnosis shouldn’t be taken personally nor is it ever a reflection of who a patient is as a person.
On a side note, I was surprised and yet also not at all shocked to learn that there might be a black market for sperm donors outside traditional channels. What the movie presented is plausible, although if it were real, I’d caution to stay away from any unregulated sperm donation.
If I Could Tell You is a moving rumination on those who grapple with infertility, and yet in the end, its message is universal. Miracles happen, but not always in the way you’d expect.
Together We’ll Find A Way
To learn more about infertility or talk to Dr. Tina Koopersmith, please contact the West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center.