Aside from all the happy endings and Brooklyn Decker’s unrealistic sneeze-push delivery, there were some poignant pregnancy and child rearing issues at play in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a star-studded flick in the vein of Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and He’s Just Not That Into You, which takes only its name from the ’80s self-help book.
Out of all the children being brought into the world/movie, Jennifer Lopez’s journey is the most realistic. When her and her husband, Alex, realise they’re being fast-tracked to adopt a baby in Ethiopia, the cracks in their relationship begin to show. Alex is worried he’s not ready for a child and won’t love a baby that’s not biologically his. Lopez’s Holly has a breakdown when she loses her job after they spend up big on baby items and move into a house they can’t afford. “I’m the one who made us spend all our 401K on three rounds of IVF. I’m the one who can’t do what a woman is supposed to be able to do [get pregnant],” she cries.
As I’ve written before, I don’t want biological children and I don’t personally agree with IVF for the reason that women like Alex shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re failures by society for not being able to conceive a child or not wanting them at all. I also think adoption should be made easier as a first option. I’m glad the movie chose to show this (along with Anna Kendrick’s character’s miscarriage).
Weight loss reality show trainer Jules Baxter, played by Cameron Diaz, comes to the realisation that a woman’s body is no longer her own when she’s carrying a child to term. “Everybody’s got an opinion not only about me, but about my baby before it’s even born,” she laments. Everyone wants to touch her, to weigh in on her and her partner’s circumcision debate, and to reduce her mobility to bed rest. When Jules collapses on the set of her show, a doctor confines her to a hotel room for the rest of her pregnancy. “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice,” the doctor informs Jules when she protests. With the U.S. becoming more conservative by the second, what with their Personhood movements and restrictions on insurance covering birth control, so many of the choices women have regarding their body are becoming scarce. The irony of exercising the right to choose to have a baby means giving up the right to choose what happens to it whilst a baby is growing in there for Jules.
This is also reflected in Wendy’s (Elizabeth Banks) experience, who is the baby specialist with her own baby book and baby shop but no baby. She’s been trying with her husband Gary for years and only when she gives up do the couple naturally conceive. Wendy the übermum’s pregnancy doesn’t go to (birth) plan—but does come with chronic gas, no “glow” and bacne—which consisted of a drug-free vaginal delivery. Once the pain kicks in and her cervix fails to dilate at the hospital, she changes her mind and begs for an epidural and the doctors advise her she’ll have to go ahead with a C-section. Despite doing “everything right”, when it comes down to the health of baby and mum, Wendy’s choice isn’t the right one.
*Blanket spoiler alert.
Image via Join HD.