Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Year Released: 2018

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Director: Noah Moskin

Stars: Maya Grobel & Noah Moskin

Cinematography: Gabriel Peters-Lazaro

Watch on Netflix Rating:

5 out of 5

Spoiler Alert! Some of the topics discussed in this post contains spoilers about events that happened in this documentary. Go watch the documentary first on Netflix, then come back to read my review. 

Overview of the Documentary

If you want to go beyond the science and actually see how fertility treatments affect people going through that process One More Shot is an excellent film to start with. I watched this before my egg retrievals as well as after. I felt like this helped prepare me to know what to expect. The second time I watched it, after the egg retrievals I could not believe how much of it was so relatable. So many of the emotions and conversations in this film were also what I experienced along the way. It mostly follows a couple, Noah and Maya’s, on their journey to parenthood using infertility treatments. They also interview other couples and a single woman that experienced infertility. This documentary was the first time I heard about embryo donation, also known as embryo adoption. The movie covers IVF using one’s own eggs, donor eggs, embryo donation, traditional adoption, and using a gestational surrogate. 

Noah and Maya met in college and fell in love. They are an adventurous couple who seemed to have it all, except they were having a really hard time getting pregnant. Maya learns that she has Diminished Ovarian Reserve, which greatly reduces her chances of having a child. Noah gets tested as well and learns that his sperm quality is good. But after trying for two years to get pregnant they decide to go for IVF. They have their friend Gabe help film their journey with infertility treatments.

Tough Decisions

Financial concerns are one of the biggest obstacles couples will face when seeking out infertility treatment. Noah and Maya were feeling very defeated after their first round of IVF failed, using Maya’s own eggs. But to add insult to injury, Noah lost his job, making affording their next round of IVF nearly impossible. At the same time their doctor was advising them to consider other options, such as egg donation. One of the most difficult decisions someone can make is when to stop trying trying fertility treatments using their own eggs or sperm. So what did that look like for Noah and Maya?

Doctor Najmabadi delicately explains some of the factors that contribute to when people decide to stop trying with their own eggs. Dr. Najmabadi explains this as, “we have limited resources of emotion, time, finances . . .” and that if they wanted to increase their odds of becoming parents they should consider the next step of using donated eggs. Noah seems interested in this option and during a discussion with Maya he says to the camera, “But if she can’t have hers I don’t feel that necessarily negates me having mine.” He is talking about using his sperm with donated eggs, so the child would still be genetically his, although it would not be hers.

One of the biggest decisions they had to make next was who was going to be their egg donor. They considered an anonymous donor at first but then asked Maya’s sister Hana. Maya was somewhat concerned about people’s perceptions of the situation and said at one point, and joked about how some might consider it a “freak show” with her future child’s aunt also being her genetic mother. They figured that the child would be genetically Noah’s and still be able to continue Maya’s family genetics, even though it would not be genetically Maya’s. Maya was also concerned about her sister’s well being through the egg retrieval process. All three of them had open and candid conversations throughout the process.

A Family Effort

Maya’s parents were involved in helping the couple save up for another round of IVF. They too had hopes and dreams of someday being grandparents. The documentary shows her parents walking around the house trying to find valuables they could sell so they could help out their daughter. Some of the things they considered selling were rare photos of Marlon Brandow, a letter from Elmore Leonard, an autographed baseball from Bob Gibson, and two Andy Warhol paintings. They did end up selling some items and they talked about how it would be worth it in the end if they could help their daughter have another chance at having a child. Her parent’s efforts as well a grant they won from Baby Quest helped them to fund a second round of IVF using donated eggs from Maya’s sister.

Maya’s sister took decided to step up and help Maya and Noah by doing an egg retrieval and donating her eggs to them. They were able to retrieve 16 eggs and 10 fertilized. Sadly half of those fertilized eggs allowed two sperm to enter the egg. As Dr. Najmabadi explains to them, “it shows a lack of proper function of an egg.” They decide to implant three of the embryos but none of them implanted and therefore the round of IVF had failed.

Emotional & Bittersweet

This documentary is definitely a no-holds-barred raw and emotional perspective on what it’s like to do IVF with one’s own eggs, with donor eggs, and donor embryos. It’s an incredibly personal and intimate look on what it takes to get through infertility treatments, which is one of the hardest things a couple can do in their relationship. Some of the hardest moments they filmed included the phone calls from their doctor’s office about their results from their rounds of IVF. Maya’s crying was gut wrenching to see because you can really feel her pain. And Noah did all he could to support Maya during those times by just holding her while she cried through her pain. Noah seemed to be the quintessential supportive partner. He gave her so many shots, came to her doctor appointments, gave her many hugs, and did not shy away from tough conversations.

Even though there were some really sad parts to the film there were also some very sweet and humorous moments they shared together. At one point they went to a doctor appointment and as they were waiting Noah felt compelled to grab the ultrasound wand and treat it like a karaoke mic. There were some other funny parts as well. Sometimes people consider trying non-traditional methods outside the typical Western Medical treatment model. I am open to trying different things that may work. But I found the process Maya went through absolutely hilarious, I found myself laughing out loud when she was hung upside down by her feet while she dangled from the second floor of their home. Another time she was slapped with large leaves and spat on by the Oaxacan healer. But hey, I’m not going to knock alternative methods if others believe it could work. And think of it this way, if it makes you feel better and reduces your stress level, why not try it? Some scientists believe that by simply having someone talking to you, being attentive, and physically touching you (i.e., acupuncturist, massage therapist, other alternative healers) this could help reduce stress and may contribute to improved fertility rates.

I loved that they were able to look at the positive side as well as not shy away from the sad parts of the process. They did have some happy news at times during the film. After Maya found out three of the eggs had fertilized from their donor eggs from her sister she got excited but then caught herself for a moment, and considered the possibility of it not working. But she was quickly able to let that thought pass and not let it push her happiness down. I like how she said, “In this moment I feel happy and that’s okay.” I remember feeling that same way at times, getting happy news, considering the possibility it may not work, but then choosing to be happy anyway. I really like that it showed Maya making that decision to be happy, despite not knowing what the future might hold. Although the stakes are so high with infertility treatments. If you are also doing fertility treatments remember to allow yourself to be happy when you get good news, instead of worrying about things that may go wrong. I know it’s easier said than done at times. But why be tense throughout the whole process when you can allow yourself to really feel those moments of happiness. 

I loved this documentary for many reasons. I loved that Maya and Noah didn’t shy away from their emotions and were open with each other and the world. I felt like it was so brave of them to express what they were going through in such detail. It helped me to become more prepared for my IVF treatment ahead of time, and I found it relatable in so many ways. They interviewed other people experiencing infertility, to get a wide variety of perspectives. This was such a great touch to the film because it showed viewers there were many paths to parenthood. I’ve watched this documentary several times since it’s been released. I feel like it’s one of those you can watch again when you are feeling down and want to see others who have been where you are now. This documentary doesn’t just show the struggle of infertility, it also shows hope. 

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