Ed Driscoll

Asking the Important Questions

“Whatever happened to Peggy’s baby in Mad Men?,” asks Rick McGinnis at the Interim:

A summation, for those who need it: Mad Men’s first season ended with the sudden hospitalization of Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss,) whose pregnancy was somehow hidden from her and everyone else by a massive weight gain that coincided with her character’s rise from the secretary pool to junior ad copywriter, under the tutelage of the show’s main character, Don Draper. If this seems implausible (though it’s neither medically or psychologically improbable,) keep in mind that despite its quality cable trappings, a show like Mad Men is at heart a melodrama, different from a daytime soap or a Latin telenovela only in its production values and insistence that actors don’t need to deliver each line in a fit of rage.

The baby’s fate was revisited at the end of the second season when Peggy told Pete Campbell, the feckless account executive with whom she’d had a brief fling, that they’d had a baby together, and that she’d “given it away.” In a flashback during that season, we see Don visiting a catatonic Peggy in the hospital; he gives her the advice that he uses to govern the whole of his life – that she forget all about it and “move forward.”

“It will shock you how much it never happened,” he tells her.

Apart from the odd glance, loaded remark or pregnant pause, we have heard nothing about Peggy and Pete’s baby since then, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we never do, and though a part of me longs for some acknowledgement of this absent child, I’m not holding my breath.

As a child of adoption, I suppose my reasons are clear enough, though that doesn’t mean they’re simple. Like nearly every adopted child, I live with a longing for acknowledgment from my birth parents, and the near certainty that it will never come. This is the emotional scar that adoption leaves on everyone involved, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for a criticism of adoption or an invalidation of its worth; for most of us, being taken in willingly by a new family is a consolation beyond value, mitigating everything but the lingering ache that, contrary to Don’s advice, we can never forget happening.

And beyond Peggy’s baby, all the lonely people, where do they all come from?


(H/T: Kathy Shaidle)