Friday, February 25, 2011


Ok, so I've had several requests to provide my perspective on last night's Private Practice episode.

First, let me say that, much like when I watch Army Wives, I wish they would have had a(n) (more influential?) advisor. I can't help but wonder if the actors that have Ds ever venture to say, "But I don't only play with stuffed animals and/or want to read nursery rhymes. I'm an adult!"

And it may be very wrong of me to to even have that thought. I mean, how long did Black actors accept roles that may have been considered demeaning (see: first version of Imitation of Life) just so they could practice their craft, do what they love?

So, yeah, I get that some people with Ds in entertainment is better than no people with Ds in entertainment. There are people that work very hard to help provide opportunities for our peeps to be included in movies, television, and even things like Target ads. I would be remiss if I didn't say how much I appreciate being able to see people that look like my child in the media.

I also realize that I'm the parent of a three-year-old. I have one child and she happens to have Ds. I don't know much in the grand scheme of things. I know what I want and what I don't want for my daughter based on what I know TODAY, at this point in her life. And that's all. I also recognize that all of my expectations aren't necessarily fair to her. I can't expect her to be something she's not and I fear that I do project my desires for her future self on her preschool self. That's sorta related and a whole 'nother ball of wax, all at the same time.

Alright, I know the people that asked what I thought about Private Practice weren't asking for all of that, but it needed to be said. I can't fully elaborate the full picture of what goes on in my brain, but I felt a preface was necessary in the hopes that knowing something of where I'm coming from will help anyone who reads about where this episode took me.

Plus, this is way awkward because I'm totally putting myself out there on a controversial topic and I know not everyone will agree.

It just happened that I woke up an hour early this morning so I decided to watch before Playette woke up, so it's nice and fresh on my mind.


So the premise was that a mother brought her teenage daughter in to see the doctor because she feared she might be pregnant. Her daughter would usually play in her room, talking to her stuffed animals, but this one time the mother found the noises to actually be due to the daughter having sex with her boyfriend. The daughter has Down syndrome and the boyfriend (played by a Not Currently Diagnosed actor) has different learning disabilities. The daughter has been complaining of stomach pain recently so they check her out via ultrasound. She's pregnant. 11 weeks. The doctors and the mom all look stricken. The daughter doesn't know what's going on.

Now comes the discussions about options. The female doctor is said to be "very Catholic" and seems to be wishing to sway the mother into taking the chance on having the "child she never had." The mom is all, "I had to give up my entire life to care for my child and I don't want to take the chance of that happening again" and, well, my eyes rolled because that's not my life. I haven't given up my life in the slightest. But, as I told a friend yesterday, maybe I'm just selfish parent.

So, unfair eyeroll? Perhaps.

The female doctors is all, "It might not be that way this time! Hold out hope for a "perfect" child! 50% chance of no Ds!"

See, this is what I mean. I have a very cynical outlook. Noted.

The male doctor, the female doctor's ex-husband (or maybe they're still married? I really don't know. He's dating her best friend, so they're not together), is all, "You need to back off and stop trying to push your 'keep the baby' stance because it's not like when our teenage daughter had a baby (I didn't catch if the couple were supposed to be teens or not) because these parents would need help all the time. Besides, what happens when the mom dies?"

The mom, by the way, is said to have Power of Attorney so if she decides that her daughter will have an abortion, it shall be done.

I'm no lawyer, but really? Is that how it works? I mean, I've seen people under 18 have babies and their parents are their legal guardians and all, but they still can't legally force their children to have abortions. Why would this be so different? Does the person with Ds no longer have a legal right to what happens to their own body? Hm. Please, someone tell me that this was just some ridiculous level of creative license.

I appreciated the fact that they seemed to explore the different sides. They talked about how the couple felt (when told at the CVS appointment, after it was done, what it was for - they were excited and wanted the baby), the mother's reaction (she was scared of what this would all mean for everyone involved and agreed to the CVS so that they could know if the baby had Ds or not)...

Wait. No one was concerned about the run-of-the-mill, not described learning disabilities of the father? They seemed very focused on Ds and that bothered me. I know I'm sensitive (and jaded), but it just seemed to perpetuate the idea that if your baby doesn't have Ds, that everything is right with the world.

*sigh and eye roll*

I know by this point that I may be missing something that I wanted to be sure not to forget.

And I know it's just TV and, really, I'm not all riled up and wanting to boycott the show. Not at all. I'm just sharing and in a typing it all out mood, I guess.

Ok, back to the different sides...

There was the male doctor who wanted to keep it all professional and emotion-free. Whatever the mom said is what went. And then the female doctor, whose opinion I've already noted.

I remember at one point the male doctor saying to the female doctor, regarding the CVS, that if the baby does have Ds and there's an abortion that she'll be unhappy because of eugenics and if the baby doesn't have Ds and there's an abortion that she'll be unhappy because she's Catholic.

I'm glad they mentioned eugenics.

So, anyway, the results come back and HOORAY! THE BABY DOESN'T HAVE DS!! OMGZ! PARTY TIME!

(I'm telling this out of order, but still...)

I think my eyes rolled out of my head and across the room at that point.

Female doctor tries and tries to reach the mom to no avail. She then asks the male doctor to come with her to deliver the news in person. He obliges.

But, the mom had already determined that it didn't matter anyway. Her daughter would not be having that baby. They had been unreachable because she had taken her daughter to have an abortion that morning. It was not 100% clear to me, but I'm pretty sure the daughter was sedated and, also, didn't know what was going on.


Oh, this makes me sooo emotional. Sad? Angry? Defeated? Irritated? All of that?

Like I said earlier, I am not in that mom's position. I've got a ways to go before I even have to begin fighting the battle of hormones and dealing with tough topics. But, damn. It hit me. Right. There.

So this is my life, huh?


It's not today.

And I can't borrow trouble.

(Right, Dub?)

Jack's Big Music Show is on.

I'll go watch that with my baby.


Not a Perfect Mom said...

I don't watch tv much, cuz you know, after 4 kids go to bed I like to sit in silence...but I've heard a lot about this already...
the biggest prob most people seem to have with this is that adoption was never mentioned as an option...
I won't watch, cuz it'll prob make me crazy...but I can honestly say if this was Brooke 15 years down the road I would never sedate her and force her to have an abortion...
that I know to be true...and it has nothing to do with's my human kindness

Becca said...

I saw a bunch of people talking about this on FB lastnight, but didn't watch the show. Thank you for recapping so well. Ugh, how frustrating.

Michelle Z said...

Thanks for the recap! I've never watched that show... but maybe I should've.

I don't know ... it's TV. It's a reflection of life, but hopefully people realize it's amplified for dramatic purposes. It's like watching people go through cancer treatment on TV. WHATEVER! I always get frustrated by the inaccuracies and the steroeotypes that are shown, and sounds like this was even more so.

Also, you can have power of attorney very reasonably easy, but I do believe reproductive issues require more legalities ... or maybe that's just forced sterilization requires more court?

Truly sad about the portrayal that having a child with DS is the WORST.THING.EVER. Way to miss a chance to educate :(

Michelle Z said...

and, we LOVE Jack's Big Music Show!

Wendy P said...

Right, C. I watched this last night and had mixed emotions about it. It didn't help that the "odds of downs" were discussed in the episode of Gray's Anatomy that aired right before it.

It did make Derek and I talk a bit about the future, which reassured me that he and I are on the same page about things. And then we agreed to shelve it, because dang, Kira's only 4. And we love Jack's Big Music Show.

Lisa said...

I'm glad I lost interest in TV for the most part a couple years ago. So I didn't see this, nor have I seen various other television shows featuring people with Ds. Friends often contact me saying, "Oh, did you see such and such? There was a person with Ds on!" And I always kind of feel like . . . bleh. Not interested because TV (unless it's a documentary) has a way of portraying things very inaccurately. Like Michelle said with the cancer. It's irritating and even sometimes upsetting. And I guess it bothers me because even if I know that's not the way it really is, that's what the general population is taking in, and so the misconceptions and stereotypes remain.

Sometimes I feel better just living in my little bubble.

krlr said...

This makes me all sorts of sad. Is there any emotional button they DIDN'T try to push? I mean, yes, that's the point - tv/drama/blah-blippity-blah but I guess I prefer my tv a little more progressive. I forgot to record but in retrospect am glad I didn't. Did you see Eighth Day? It's french but on the cable channels now...I thought it was HORRIFYING but it got lots of warm 'n fuzzy reviews.

IlaBrook said...

Glad someone mentioned the Grey's episode that same night. Prenatal testing.... what if.... blah, blah, blah. Made me wonder if someone at the network has some random agenda??? Anyway, I found the subject matter disturbing but the language used was even worse. *eye roll* is right!