By Emily Blatchford.
It’s not every day you see a woman examining a fingerful of her own discharge with a wonder normally reserved for sunsets or UFOs.
But this is how new online drama ‘All Our Eggs’ decides to introduce Charlie (Adrienne Pickering of ‘Rake’), a 35-year-old woman who is trying to fall pregnant.
“Ovulation,” she says, right down the camera. “That’s the big ‘O’ I’m chasing these days.”
It may seem graphic, and it is, but so is the world of trying for a baby when you’re a woman in your thirties. And for Charlie and her partner Jack, (Matt Zeremes), it looks like it’s going to be a long road.
Directed by Martha Goddard, who also co-writes with playwright Vanessa Bates, ‘All Our Eggs’ is partly inspired by Bates’ experiences of trying to conceive (she’s written a blog, a book and a play about the experience, which she has described as “absurd, draining and expensive, and not just in the monetary sense.”)
While the series takes a darkly humorous look at what Charlie and Jack go through, it’s not without a heavy dose of reality. After all, we know that women are choosing to have babies later and, while this is conducive to professional and personal development, we also know a woman’s fertility begins to declineonce she hits her thirties. At 35, fertility decline speeds up, and at 40, fertility has fallen by half.
It certainly gave Goddard something to think about, who is currently heavily pregnant with her first child.
“This series really has something to account for here,” she told HuffPost Australia. “It certainly made me have that conversation, in that we started talking about it when I read Vanessa’s book.
“It’s this ongoing thing with the women and their biological clock. There are lots of careers where a woman is taking more time establishing a career, and just one of those things where all your colleagues are having babies later and you don’t feel you need to rush.
“Everyone is having babies later, meeting their partners later, and for all these reasons you don’t consider it earlier and then suddenly you’re given the hard truth of biology.”
And so begins the struggle of trying to conceive when the odds are stacked against you, which is exactly the journey ‘All Our Eggs’ promises to deliver.
“It is a story that is so important to tell,” Pickering said. “There is such an unfair element of shame and embarrassment that has been associated with couples who struggle to become pregnant. It’s also just a really fascinating junction of hope and disappointment and innocence and reverence for science and faith that just hasn’t been explored on-screen enough.”
Currently, Charlie’s story has been limited to the seven minute pilot, but a full series has been developed and will hopefully come to fruition in 2018.
It’s an outcome which seems likely given Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative, a commitment from the funding body to offset the gender imbalance in the output and make-up of the Australian screen industry.
So far GENDER MATTERS has supported ‘All Our Eggs’ in producing its pilot and on Tuesday morning, it was announced the series was a recipient of further story development funding.
In short, it looks like we will get to rejoin Charlie and Jack sometime next year for what Goddard promises will be one hell of a ride.
“It’s a five year journey, so there are rounds of IVF, we explore Chinese medicine, we touch on adoption, we explore donor eggs as an option,” Goddard said. “They are a couple really committed to having a baby. And in the end, it’s not what you’re expecting.”