Molly Ringwald, 41, and Her Miracle Twins: A Lost Opportunity

This weekend, I’d planned on writing about pre-implantation genetic testing (PGD)—a lay person’s explanation of the procedures involved and the specific results for my husband’s and my six embryos from this in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle.  But, early Saturday morning, I read People magazine’s feature about Molly Ringwald and her newborn twins, referred to repeatedly as “miracles.”  In the article, the reporters state that, when asked whether she turned to infertility treatments to have her twins, Molly said that information was “private.”  As a result, rather than writing about PGD, I’m writing about Molly’s lost opportunity to be a role model.

Molly is 41, just like me.  She and her husband have a daughter, Mathilda, who is either five or six.  (In the People article, Mathilda is listed as five, but also as born in 2003.)  I have a son who is 4 ½. 

Women in the “advanced maternal age” category typically don’t wait four or five years to have a second child.  Women our age who stagger pregnancies like she has—and like I hope to, if I am pregnant right now, as a result of my second IVF attempt—do so not by choice, but because they’ve struggled to conceive again. 

It would be one thing if Molly had decided to keep her personal pregnancy and birth stories private.  Instead, she was willing to be touted on the cover of People, with “Only in People—Molly Ringwald: My ‘Miracle’ Twins.”  She was willing to be promoted on the magazine’s contents page, along with a prominent photo, with the teaser, “’80s icon Molly Ringwald shows off her 4-week-old twins Adele Georgiana and Roman Stylianos—and opens up about her ‘miraculous’ family of five.”  And, she was willing to be featured in a four-page article, complete with full-page pictures, titled “Molly Ringwald Pretty in Pink … and Blue!,” with the tagline, “The ultimate ‘80s icon opens us about the ‘really grand surprise’ of welcoming twins at 41.”

In the article, we learn that she feeds Adele pumped breast milk; that Molly endured 11 hours of labor; that, on  July 10, Adele was born at 9:01 a.m. and Roman at 9:04 a.m.; that Roman needed “a little more attention” after birth, because Adele had “hogged a lot of the oxygen in the blood”; that “the new parents decided against a baby nurse,” but Molly’s parents are currently staying with them; that Molly wears a waist-tightening belly band; and that Molly feels “so lucky to be 41 and to be so healthy during this pregnancy.”

But, when she had the opportunity to “open up” about how she got pregnant, she clammed up.  The article states, “Getting pregnant after Mathilda was a challenge, but whether Ringwald turned to infertility treatments is ‘private,’ she says.   ‘After Mathilda was born, I had some things fixed’—surgery to remove fibroids—‘that made it easier to get pregnant again.  There were some other issues, too.’”

If Molly hadn’t used infertility treatments, she would have answered the reporters’ question with, “No.”  Instead, she, who was comfortable splashing her family members across People magazine, skirted the issue, citing privacy. 

Molly had such a wonderful opportunity here.  She’s a decades-long, much-loved celebrity whose pregnancy took place in front of her current viewers and fans, because it was written into her role on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  She could have educated millions of women about age-related or other infertility, about the physical and emotional trials and traumas of trying to conceive after hitting “advanced maternal age.”

When I decided at age 35 to pursue single parenthood using donor sperm, almost all of my friends thought I was crazy, citing example upon example of celebrities in their forties who had just birthed babies.  I wanted to scream, “They’re probably not using their own eggs.” 

Now the women of the world have yet-another example of a celebrity in her forties who was able to give birth to not just one baby, but two.  It is a miracle to have children at age 41—a miracle that most often requires medical intervention.  Molly’s unwillingness to “be open” about the help she received contributes not only to women being in the dark about age-related infertility, but also to infertility being considered a shameful secret.  After all, Molly was willing to admit that she wears a belly band, but not that she used infertility treatments.

What is a shame here is not that Molly needed infertility treatments to conceive her miracle babies, but that she chose not to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to be a role model.

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