If the purpose of a documentary is to widen exposure of a particular issue to a broader audience, then Vegas Baby hits the mark. The double entendre in the title cleverly describes the subject matter: an online competition that was held to win a free course of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) from a Las Vegas infertility center.
Filmmaker Amanda Micheli had unprecedented access to follow several finalists through this terribly personal process.Vegas Baby covers some of the contestants on this roller coaster experience in their attempt to have a baby. Even the elation of winning is tempered, as even the finalist is not guaranteed a baby after the IVF procedure.
Infertility can be unbelievably emotional and expensive if women go through multiple IVF treatment protocols. Thousands of woman in the US alone are affected; nearly one in six couples worldwide are unable to naturally conceive and carry a baby to term. Infertility is not considered a disease in our health care system, so the IVF process is not covered by insurance — treatment is provided primarily by private facilities.
The fertility doctor at the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine featured in the film promises prospective clients a 90% positive results for pregnancy, but he does not tell them how many rounds of IVF it may take. The cost of each round is about $20,000, and many women may need three or more rounds to become pregnant — requiring them to mortgage their homes, borrow from parents or other family, and make other sacrifices in their pursuit of what seems like a kink in nature’s way.
The pain of infertility is demonstrated in many intimate scenes throughout the film. One moment that stands out for me is a scene in which we see a woman who had already gone through multiple rounds of IVF without positive results. She is getting a pedicure in a nail salon, amongst a row of other women. One of the women in the salon is pregnant and the strangers begin a conversation comparing happy accidental pregnancies—with no knowledge of the frustrating experience of the woman in their midst. The pained expression on the non-fertile woman’s face as she overhears this exchange expresses all her heartbreak.
The film was executive produced by Morgan Spurlock who has had a child via IFV with his wife (as has director Amanda Micheli). The filmmakers are participating with the nonprofit Resolve: The National Infertility Association which creates a community of support for people living with infertility and works to ensure all family building options are available to anyone who needs them.
Vegas Baby is available on Netflix and on Amazon.
Karen Henry is an Associate Editor at LA YOGA who volunteers in a variety of capacities for nonprofit organizations and artists around Los Angeles. She practices yoga as a counterbalance to her daily impact sports and is a mother of four grown children who also practice yoga . Now, she’s working on teaching yoga and joy of life to the grandkids!