Monday, September 29, 2008

Just like a real Mom

De Mommy has a post about celebrities in their 40's having babies and the likelihood that they are using Donor Eggs. I share her frustration that these women, while under no obligation to talk openly about something so private, give the wrong impression to women (and society) that one can be fertile well into their 40's not as a statistical anomaly but as a matter of fact. All you need is a few rounds of IVF and you, too, can have babies right up to the dawn of menopause. Nevermind that fertility for women starts to decline at about 25 and then a more rapid decline at 35.

It got me thinking about the pull if feel between privacy and using my experience to broaden understanding of infertility. While I don't think celebrities are obligated to tell I HATE that it that they don't. It has a negative effect on women because they think they can wait. They think science has not only extended but defeated the biological clock. Additionally, those of us who have trouble conceiving (at any age) are bombarded with these "outliers" as proof that we be able to do the same. If I had a nickle for everyone who told me, "look at so and so...they had twins at 40", I could have afforded a few more tries at IVF with my own eggs.

Now I will be one of them (hopefully) and have babies at 40-ish after a few failed IVF's. I'll just let people think that eventually IVF works for everyone. I realize that I will be contributing to what I HATE...I will be part of the problem. I can live with that because I don't want my personal mission to use my experience to build empathy in the world (or my little-infertile corner of it) to overshadow my children's need for normalcy and privacy.

I'm not publicly disclosing that I did DE not because I am ashamed but because I think my future children deserve some privacy...I will tell them and they can decide who/if they tell. I probably know people who have convinced from donor sperm/eggs. I just don't know it. And why should I? It's none of my business. However, if I had known it might have made my decision to do DE easier. Even now I feel alone with my decision which makes me feel the slightest bit unsure. I wish I knew other women IRL who have done/are doing this. This may sound shallow but I felt a-lot better about doing DE when I came to the realization that all those Hollywood actresses probably did it.

Knowing of other families who used third-party reproduction makes me feel less alone. Less of a failure. Like we will be just as ligitimate as other families.

Going public would open up my children and our family to a lot of disapproval. IVF seems to be generally accepted (if misunderstood) but I am learning that third-party rerpoduction is look on, at best, as an unfortunate and pitiable extreme and at worst some Frankenstein-violation of nautre, God and my marital vows.

I understand why Hollywood actresses don't tell. I'm not telling either. Not my mom, dad, in-laws, friends, priest, community, co-workers, brothers. I have 2 IRL friends who know, my two sisters, and I guess I will have to tell my OB/GYN. I think that might be it for a while. (Other than you, my dear internets.)

If I know someone who is struggling with infertility I will tell them so they know the facts....not naively believing some fantasy. I don't want other people to feel alone like I do. I wish I knew someone who had done it. Who understood. Who I wouldn't feel judged by. Someone who would not be prone to describe some other woman as the "real" mother of my children. Someone who would not make them feel like a lesser part of the family than Piccolina.

So while am a transparent person, no secrets, no lies, I will have a secret and will lie if I have to. While I live to clear up erroneous assumptions and set folks straight on all things infertility I will have to simmer down, bite my tongue and let people assume that I am the genetic mother of my children. I can't see doing it any other way and still protect my family.

I'm not even pregnant. They don't even exist yet but I am fiercely protective. Hmm Just like a "real" mom.


bleu said...

It is so true and so hartd. I actually spent some time thinking about just this. I hate how in Hollywood people aren't forthcoming but I will never forget when they were discussing someone's passing last year, some star, a male. The news kept saying he left behind his "adopted" son so and so. It miffed me so much. The man was in his 80's or 90's when he passed and his son was older as well, like late 50's I think, yet they had to label him adopted as if that were somehow less his son. It infuriated me.

So I get stars not sharing. Can you imagine every interview stating her children through egg donor being stated every time, or even worse??

But at the same time it is totally giving a false sense of fertility.

Go mama bear go!!!

Ophelia said...

I just love how Nicole Kidman claims magicical fertile water got her knocked up! Uh huh... and suddenly, dozens of middle-aged celebrities have gotten pregnant with boy/girl twins "naturally". Sure, I believe it. Do they really think that people buy that crap? Do they really think people will look at them any differently if they HAD to resort to fertility treatments? The problem with celebrities is that most of them abuse fertility treatments so that they can plan their pregnancies around their supid movie careers. God forbid they get pregnant naturally while filming another crapa$$ movie.

I have a lot of respect for Brooke Shields. At least she talked about her issues. At least she was honest. Her book was pretty good. It talks about her depression, but also her struggles with infertility too.

Lori said...

While surfing adoption blogs yesterday, I came across a a post that spoke about the difference between secrecy (unhealthy and fear-based) and privacy (healthy and love-based).

It seems you know the difference, too.

millie said...

I've written about this a lot in the past. I have no respect, ZERO, for those Hollywood types who shill their kids out on the covers of magazines and then say they had no help. Don't freakin' lie to the public.

That doesn't mean you have to be fully out, though. Look at Marcia Cross. What a classy lady! Of course she worked as a counselor and provided therapy to many infertiles so she "gets it". She has never lied. She has said it wasn't easy, she was really lucky, it's hard for women over 40, etc. Yet she's maintained her children's privacy. She is most definitely their "real" mom.

Elizabeth Edwards did much the same thing. Holly Hunter keeps everything about her kids private.

There is a big difference in my book between privacy and secrecy. It will be your child's story so you should honor that. It's up to them who, when and how they tell. That's just about privacy.

But that doesn't mean you lie about getting help (I'm looking at you Nicole, Julia, Angela, JLo and Rebecca). Shame on those liars.

You don't have to say you use donor eggs to help people understand infertility. You just have to say "it can be really hard to build a family and there are lots of way to build a family including ivf, surrogacy, donor gametes, adoption". I've always thought if someone asks straight out, it's best to just say "why does that matter?" or "why would you ask such a question?" then you can either put them in their place or share information/resources/etc if they're "one of us".

Chelle said...

I completely agree that you have to protect your family. You do whatcha gotta do.

Anne said...

Now that I've ended my journey, I wish I would have told a lot fewer people. When people ask me how I feel about the whole thing, I just tell them to read my blog. Privacy is very healthy. Not only for those babies you dream of protecting, but also for yourself.
PS -- (Thank you for the kind words of support.)

renovationgirl said...

I've thought about this aspect a lot when we began thinking about DE...I came to no resolution about it. I'm proud of the struggles I have endured, but there is a fine line between telling about it to educate and betraying your child's rights. We still are considering it once we get some finances straight, but right now, I guess I'm glad I don't have to make this decision because wow, it's hard! Great post.

Kate said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I know how you feel. I share many of your same feelings and fears.

KandiB said...

So true. I had no idea that it was harder to get pregnant after 35 until I tried. I thought it just meant the risk of Down Syndrome and other chromosonal defects were higher. I knew there were less eggs, but I didn't know that it affected egg quality. Boy do you learn a lot about your body while going through FT. I, too, wish celebrities would fess up. What a perfect opportunity to bring fertility issues to light!!

Anonymous said...

I think this is SO TRUE. I, personally, was completely duped by these stories of women who were getting pregnant at 40. I decided I definitely had time to commit to my career. Imagine my surprise when at 36, I was told I have diminished ovarian reserve - after undergoing 3 failed IVFs. The sad thing is that members of my family still dont 'get it'. My mother points to friends and relatives who have given birth recently in their early 40s and tells me: "dont worry, it'll happen". I am convinced that at least some (if not all) of these women have used donor eggs, although they dont tell. Not that I necessarily blame them, but... Somehow this all needs to be communicated to the younger generation.

Sky said...

Loved this post! I have one VERY similar.

Now, do I care that these ladies don't cop to using donor eggs? Nope. But I do care that they make stupid remarks like Nicole Kidman and the "fertility lake." Yeah, gee, why didn't I think of that before I decided to pour 18K down the IVF tube already with another projected 35K for my DE cycle?

What? I could just take a wonderful vacation down under and swim in a lovely body of water for about 3K instead? Ugh, I'm such a wasteful idiot!

That's just precious!

And, yes, like you I decided I will not use MY CHILD as the sacrificial lamb to educate a planet of women who absolutely believe that enough IVF dollars gets you a genetic baby. HA! Go tell that to Martha Stewart's daughter Alexis (I don't think money is a barrier for her!).

Thanks for joining me in this rant! :)