“I’m in my forties, so it’s really hard to get pregnant the fun way,” explains award-winning filmmaker Anne Makepeace at the start of Baby, It’s You, an unflinchingly intimate account of the tumultuous year she and her husband, Peter Behrens, spent undergoing modern fertility procedures. Poignant, thoughtful, and often amusing, the film examines how the couple’s efforts affected not only their marriage, but their family relationships past and present.
The New York Times called Baby, It’s You “a fearless, touching account.” The Los Angeles Times declared it “a whimsical and completely moving meditation, simultaneously warm, funny, and painful, on what family and children mean in today’s ultra-confusing world.”
Chronicling the couple’s foray into the “brave new science” of reproductive technology, Baby, It’s You follows Makepeace and Behrens from their most intimate moments to tense scenes in the operating room. But their roller-coaster ride through the labyrinth of the fertility maze is only part of the story. With a cast that includes the couple’s unconventional baby-boomer siblings, Baby, It’s You also paints an absorbing portrait of a generation that is creating families in ways their parents would never have dreamt.
When the film begins, Makepeace’s older brother, Douglas, is an aspiring polygamist in Utah who is planning twenty childrenover the next ten years. Her younger brother, Roger, is living off the land in the Appalachian mountains raising goats and selling real estate. Behrens’ older sister, Anne, is parenting her lesbian lover’s sperm-bank baby in Montreal. Meantime, his younger sister, Mary, reflects on her recent unplanned pregnancy and the end of a long- term relationship.
The film itself had a difficult birth. Before making Baby, It’s You, Makepeace tried collaborating with Behrens on a feature film—another kind of “baby”—based on Makepeace’s first love affair, which ended when she became pregnant more than two decades ago. The subject matter proved too painful for Makepeace, and they abandoned the idea of the film. During this time, they were about to begin the first round of fertility procedures. Makepeace underwent a GIFT (Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer) procedure which involves removing unfertilized eggs from a woman’s ovary, combining them with sperm, and placing them into a woman’s fallopian tubes.
It was then that Behrens suggested that Makepeace turn the camera on herself and capture some of this ready-made drama. “I began to think about the characters in my family,” says Makepeace. “I wondered, ‘Why is it that my brothers and I are in our forties and childless— why is there no new generation?’ Looking at that, it became a much bigger story, and I became obsessed with telling it.”
Raised in a conservative family in the early 1950’s, Makepeace was taught never to discuss sexual or emotional matters. In tense and touching conversations with her elderly New England relatives, she reveals a painful 30-year-old confession that has made motherhood unthinkable for her—until now. “I had to go into a dark and terrifying personal place to confront my demons and uncover a secret I held for a very long time,” says Makepeace. “Only after that did I feel I could be a good mother.”
By the film’s end, many choices are made, and life has changed for everyone involved: a sudden death is mourned; a marriage is celebrated; and new family bonds are forged. As more people turn to modern reproductive technology to enable them to have children, Baby, It’s You tackles the timely issues of infertility with candor and grace and offers a fresh, touching exploration of new definitions of family in the 90’s.