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Thank You, Jimmy Fallon
August 13, 2013 by Jenny Roo
"Late Night" host and Saturday Night Live alum Jimmy Fallon has become a Father. Three weeks ago, he and his wife producer Nancy Juvonen, welcomed a baby girl who they named Winnie. In what is frankly a nice change of celebrity-pace, there was no bump-watch, no tabloid speculation about cravings and birth plans, and no one in the public seemed to have even known that they were parents until after their daughter was born.
There are a few reasons this is more extraordinary than the average celeb-procreation (even more extraordinary than not hearing every detail of pregnancy and anticipating the impending baby like it's very existence is going to alter the course of the universe). One, in the last few days Jimmy Fallon said to the public, to paraphrase, 'yup, we used a surrogate'. Two, he gave an interview to Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show which aired in part this morning revealing that they indeed suffered through infertility and that oh yeah, by the way, it sucks.
In this morning's interview, Fallon talked about how he and his wife struggled for five years to have a baby.
"We've tried a bunch of things," he said. "Anyone who's tried will know, it's just awful."
He went on to talk a little bit about loss.
"We tried before, we told people and then it didn't happen," he explained,"and it's just really depressing. It's really hard on everybody."
Whether or not he fully understands it, suddenly the endlessly charming eternal man-boy Mr. Fallon is going to be even more beloved. Why? Because he's one of us. And he's talking about it. In public. Today Twitter is a flutter with the hashtag '#ThankYouJimmy'. So why are we, the internet world of infertility, thanking him?
One, it's no secret that infertility is still, in a lot of ways, considered a dirty secret. Even though 1 in 8 couples suffer with infertility there's still a lot of stigma around it which makes discussing it and being open about it a brave thing to do. For the average person, even coming out on Facebook is a scary, scary personal choice to make, and that's just a few hundred people you pretended to like in High School. There's the concern that you're going to make people uncomfortable, that YOU'RE going to be uncomfortable, and there's no real blueprint for how to have a meaningful conversation about it without either one of those things happening.
Two, of all the various paths of treatment involved with infertility, surrogacy is perhaps the winner of the 'least understood' contest. The uneducated hear that word, and if they have a vague understanding of what that word even means, immediately jump to 'vanity'. It can weirdly be treated with even less respect than elective plastic surgery - something for rich people, something for people with an inflated ego, something on par with botox or tummy tucks. Rare is the person outside of the world of infertility who sees it for what it is - a medical option for someone who cannot carry their own children and who has more than likely, by the time they have reached the point of considering surrogacy, already been through hell. Anyone who has been through infertility will tell you that vanity and/or an over-inflated sense of pride is just about the last thing that you have at the end of the day.
So for Jimmy Fallon - a celebrity, a male celebrity, a male celebrity suffering through infertility - to get on television and openly talk about conception NOT being a straight line for him is fantastic. He's not the first celebrity to talk about it and he won't be the last, but to engage in an open and fairly candid interview on the subject is an amazing step in the direction of progress. Someone who has a giant platform is USING it. (I also can't help but think that Jimmy Fallon, in particular, people will have a harder time looking at and saying 'oh yeah, vain for sure'.)
Maybe the best part of the interview was him talking about (and to) other people going through infertility.
"I know people have tried much longer, but if there's anyone out there who is trying and they're just losing hope... just hang in there. Try every avenue; try anything you can do cause you'll get there. You'll end up with a family, and it's so worth it. It is the most 'worth it' thing."
Well said, Jimmy, well said. The internet-infertile should be proud today, if for no other reason than if Jimmy Fallon is sitting at our table I'm pretty sure we're the cool kids.