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Tribeca Film Festival

If you wanted a child and couldn't have one, what measures would you take to make it happen?

Amanda Micheli took an intimate look at this question and couples' quests to have a child in "haveababy," a documentary that centers around patients at a Las Vegas fertility clinic. Each year, the clinic hosts I Believe, a YouTube-based competition that gives one of several hundred couples a chance at undergoing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

[vimeo_embed https://player.vimeo.com/video/145339124?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0 expand=1]


OK, we know what you’re thinking. Why on Earth is there a contest to win a baby?

The idea of pitting couples against each other to compete for the opportunity to have a child seems kinda, well, abhorrent, but the reason for entering the contest is understandable. Most of us would probably agree with the founder of the clinic, Geoffrey Sher, and his statement that "For those that say that there shouldn't be a contest, I agree. There should be insurance. But that's not how the world works."

Infertility is not uncommon, and if you desperately want children but don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spare for fertilization treatments or adoption, there aren't a lot of options.

Image via iStock.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,6% of married womenat peak fertility age are unable to get pregnant after a year of unprotected sex.Contrary to outdated stigmas, about 7.5% of all sexually experienced men under the age of 45 — or about 3.3 to 4.7 million men — reached out to a fertility doctor during their lifetime.

Thanks to some awesome breaks in medicine, couples who have trouble conceiving have a variety of other ways to approach having a child. But just how accessible are these options?

The average cost of a basic IVF treatment starts at about $12,000. That’s not including the extra $3,000 to $5,000 for necessary medications needed during the strenuous process.

With the current American household income at about $51,939, it’s not difficult to understand why couples are looking for different — and less expensive — ways to approach IVF.

It's not only heterosexual couples who struggle with the costs of IVF. Same-sex couples and single want-to-be parents are looking for various options to have a child too, but the daunting price tag makes this journey increasingly difficult.


Image via iStock.

While medicine has certainly made huge strides, many of these options aren’t covered under the majority of health insurance.

The IVF process, which takes upward of six weeks, currently has a per-cycle success rate of roughly 40% for women with top chances of success and 20% to 35% for the average woman. That means that couples may have to go through this costly procedure multiple times.

Currently, the Affordable Care Act does not require coverage for infertility treatments, although 15 states have laws that require varying levels of insurance coverage for infertility treatments.

Adoption, an alternative that some families might consider, also carries a hefty price tag. Families pay an average of $40,121 to adopt a child from a traditional agency.

In addition, the stigmas surrounding infertility, though antiquated, still carry weight in our society’s understanding of the ability to reproduce.

The mental toll of infertility and the accompanying stigmas drain a lot of couples; infertile couples even have a higher rate of divorce. For years, most of the public thought infertility was a women’s issue. Women trying to get pregnant felt a sense of shame and failure, as though they’d somehow failed their biological duties. These stigmas couldn't be further from the truth and make a painful situation even worse for those who already feel shame and frustration because they are unable to start their own family.

The creator of "haveababy," Amanda Micheli, explained to Elle magazine, "As painful as it was for the subjects to put themselves out there, they did it because they wanted to help others understand what it's like to go through this. It's such a misunderstood and isolating experience because nobody talks about it."

To deny a couple that has spent more than a year trying to conceive the opportunity to engage in the joys of parenthood is not only heartbreaking — it’s preventable.

Couples seeking the joy of parenting deserve the opportunity to try and have a child — without having to compete for it. When we support couples in their IVF journeys and find creative ways to help those who can't afford it, we pave the way for a happier society.

That's something we can all get behind.

Amanda Micheli's "haveababy" is being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival as part of its Viewpoints section. Films in Viewpoints take on social issues, zooming in on topics that sometimes feel a little far away from some people but are incredibly close to others.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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