Archive for the ‘Check This Out’ Category
April 2, 2013 | By: Liz | Filed under: Check This Out,Deadly Silence,Egg Donation,In the News,infertility in the media,Infertility on Television,IVF,Personal Musings,Recurrent Pregnancy Loss,The Infertility Survival Handbook,Thinking Out Loud
We are rapidly approaching National Infertility Awareness Week (April 21-27); a week that is devoted to raising awareness of infertility and its impact on our lives. This is an important week, not just because we are discussing infertility on a national level, but because many of us may are faced with thoughts and memories that have long since been buried. Or have they? Many an infertile woman will understand very clearly what I mean when I refer to that which I call Post Traumatic Infertility Stress Disorder (PTIFSD). This is the part of our lives where we are periodically haunted by our infertility (IF) treatment, sometimes years after it has ended. Regardless of the outcome of our treatment, PTIFSD is signaled by a random flashback to one of any number of emotionally devastating moments during infertility treatment, a flashback that comes out of nowhere and is so vivid and acute that it catches our breath and momentarily disables us.
The first time I encountered PTIFSD was about two years after I had stopped IF treatment. One day I was holding my baby while on line in Starbucks and a woman came in bursting with news for the friends who were waiting for her: she was finally pregnant with twins and her beta was high! Upon overhearing this news (along with everyone else in Starbucks, most of whom probably had no clue what a beta is or why it was relevant) I had an immediate flashback to a time I too had learned I was pregnant, had a high beta and was probably carrying twins. My flashback delved further, rapidly scrolling through memories of the messages on my answering machine, including those from three nurses at my clinic to congratulate me and share their excitement about my pregnancy. Two of them gave me information that initially had not been shared with me, information which confirmed that I “must be” carrying twins, although that would later be confirmed by ultrasound. My brain spun with these memories and I became disoriented. It was only when the child in my arms, my child, grabbed my hair to get my attention that I snapped out of my seemingly trance-like state. I forgot where I was in time. I forgot I had a child. All I could remember were those happy moments of learning that I finally had a healthy pregnancy under way and the devastation that followed approximately 9 weeks later when I learned that I had to undergo yet another D&C and that my dreams were once again, dead.
While some of us do emerge emotionally unscathed from infertility treatment, many of us carry battle scars that last a lifetime. There is a cruel side of infertility treatment that people don’t often talk about and it involves the emotional scars we are left with, sometimes years after our treatment has ended and we are supposed to have “made peace” with our family building. Not many people will acknowledge that they still have bad days, get jealous or angry (sometimes very angry) over something small and seemingly benign but nevertheless powerful enough to cause a shock wave of traumatic and painful memories from our days undergoing infertility treatment to overtake us and send us into a tailspin, the likes of which we haven’t felt since. . . well since our days of infertility treatment. It has been a long time since I had a PTIFSD encounter but sadly, I had one recently and it was no easier to tolerate than was the Starbucks encounter I described above. And what struck me most was that while I understood that my infertility might still be fresh in my mind less than two years after my husband and I walked away from our IVF Clinic, I didn’t expect those same memories to carry with them the same ferocity so many years later. I mean, it has been over ten (10) years since I underwent an IVF cycle. Certainly time must have tempered my feelings, yes?
Apparently the answer was a resounding “no”. I was checking my email one morning when I received a surprise baby-on-the-way announcement from one of my childhood friends. She and I not only went to kindergarten together but we went through infertility treatment together. Despite having similar diagnoses, she went on to achieving several successful pregnancies via egg donation. I was so happy for her that I knitted a little sweater for her first born. What I experienced upon opening her email a few weeks ago, however, was hideously painful and I was left depressed, lethargic, moody and frightened. My friend had gotten pregnant by accident, in other words, without medical assistance. Indeed, much to everyone’s stupefaction, despite her age and many infertility diagnoses, she is experiencing a very healthy twin pregnancy. As I sat there reading her email I was happy for her, but at the same time I was overcome by memories of us holding hands while waiting to have our blood drawn in the morning, and the time she called in tears because she finally had to face the fact that she needed to use donor egg if she wanted to achieve a pregnancy (or so everyone thought at the time). And as I relived those memories (emphasis on the word relive) and read her email again I suddenly was overcome by anger and jealousy that I was not the one sending out the email. Out of nowhere I was overcome with a jealous rage that bordered on hate. Hatred for someone I have loved since I was so small a person? Yes, if I am truly honest I have to admit that I felt inklings of hatred for her. For the next day or so I had mood swings and bit people’s heads-off for no reason. It was only when I finally told my husband what I had received in that email that the feelings became less intense. Somehow by acknowledging my feelings I was finally able to begin to move away from this non-stop video memory spinning inside my head. Somehow this email had me caught in a perpetual mental loop of painful and devastating memories from my IF. As the memories subsided, I remembered a conversation with a therapist I had seen during and after my IVF days. During one of my sessions, she commented that what I was experiencing seemed a lot like post traumatic stress disorder; and so she and I created a new diagnosis, Post Traumatic Infertility Stress Disorder or PTIFSD.
I now have learned how to recognize and embrace the PTIFSD memories and use them to remind me of the joy that surrounds me. I hope my PTIFSD is now truly at rest in my past. But it’s okay if it is not. Because I know where these feelings come from, and that they will go away. These feelings do not control me, nor does my infertility continue to define me, instead it is the genesis of my growth as a human being, a woman, and a mother.
I recently had dinner with an infertility doctor. He asked me why I wrote The Infertility Survival Handbook and whether it had been cathartic. I told him why I wrote it – to let other women know they were not alone – but I also acknowledged that writing it wasn’t the least bit cathartic. My healing process is one that continues. Perhaps writing The Infertility Survival Handbook was my way of starting the healing process but I would be lying if I said I was finished with it.
The Infertility Survival Handbook was released during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) in 2004. Today as we approach NIAW, I am thinking of all of the women (and men) who are currently struggling to have a baby. Now on its’ ninth (yes 9th!! Woot! Woot!) printing and as I contemplate writing an updated version, I think of all those women who have read my book and have emailed me, messaged me on facebook, or even called me (on a private number at home at 6am); women, who like me, struggle with the emotions that linger even after they have become mothers. PTIFSD is not yet in any diagnostic manuals, but I wish it were. I had two wonderful therapists who helped validate the emotions I was experiencing both during my treatment and well after it ended; therapists who believe in PTIFSD and its power. Not everyone has people in their lives like my therapist who invented PTIFSD, or someone that understands and “gets it”. And it is for those women I write this blog.
No you are not alone. Being unable to conceive a child when you so desperately want one, is painful. You are entitled to express that pain. You should not be shushed or told to “just relax” so you can get pregnant. And yes, that pain can stay in your heart and mind and hide there waiting to jump out and catch you off guard. That too is normal and you are entitled to express that pain as well. You should not be shushed or told “it’s over now just forget about it”.
You are not crazy. Infertility is a part of your life regardless of the ultimate outcome. It is an experience that shapes you and has the power to disfigure you – to change who you are – if you let it. If you think you might have “Post Traumatic Infertility Stress Disorder”, talk to someone. Get those feelings out. Give your feelings a name. Sometimes just by having a name, a reason, or a diagnosis gives you closure and helps you move past the feelings and you experience a sense of relief that allows you to let go. I may not be like my childhood/IF buddy who is on the verge of delivering twins. But I also am no longer be at the mercy of my memories. By being reminded that my reactions and feelings when confronted with things that trigger painful memories has a name, PTIFSD, I have been able to regain my balance. Or perhaps it is simply the understanding that, like anyone who goes through a very traumatic experience, I am bound to (at some point) relive that trauma, which has enabled me to begin to heal on a new, even deeper level.
Infertility awareness requires not only an understanding and recognition of the disease itself but of what that disease can do to us. So if all the media coverage regarding infertility in the coming days (of which I hope there is a lot), finds you feeling a little more blue (or red) than normal, a little bit more withdrawn or melancholy, remind yourself that this media coverage is triggering some old buried memories, just as that woman in Starbucks and my friend’s email caused me to become momentarily blinded by sadness, grief, and anger. It is okay that our infertility causes some of us to experience things and feel emotions long after we thought they were over. That can be a part of infertility too, PTIFSD; and it too deserves some recognition during NIAW.
The point of NIAW is to help us recognize that we should not suffer in silence, that we should band together and make people aware that infertility is a disease. What I wanted to share with you, and make people aware of is not just the medical diagnoses, but the sometimes unbearable emotional pain we feel. We also should not be forced to suffer the emotional pain in silence.
February 15, 2013 | By: Liz | Filed under: Current Affairs,Deadly Silence,Faith and Infertility,infertility in the media,Infertility In The Movies etc.,Infertility on Television,IVF,Miscarriage,Peace to Parenthood,Personal Musings,Recurrent Pregnancy Loss,Stillbirth,The Journey to Parenthood,Thinking Out Loud,Third-Party Assisted Reproduction
The shrowd of silence around stillbirth and pregnancy loss finally is being lifted. Someone is making a documentary about miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. This morning I watched the trailer of “Still” a documentary devoted to raising awareness of the pain of the loss of a pregnancy, a child born too soon, or a stillbirth. I think “Still” may focus more on stillbirth or pre-term delivery, but some of the articles I read as I researched its production indicated that the documentary intends to address recurrent pregnancy loss and/or miscarriage more than is touched upon in this trailer.
As I watched the trailer I was reminded of a long call I had with a new client this week. It is rare that I have a client who has a similar background to my own experience with infertility. Like me she has experienced 12 unexplained pregnancy losses (although I sort of stopped counting about a year ago when I went through it again . . . something about hitting the number 13 and I really decided it didn’t matter how many I had, I have had enough, one is enough). Only in addition to experiencing a number of first term (non-chemical) pregnancy losses, my new client also lost pregnancies in the second trimester and near the beginning of the third trimester. We had a lengthy conversation about how isolating it is, how lonely it is, how there is no person other than your partner or spouse who “gets it” (and even then sometimes perhaps they don’t totally get it because it isn’t their body), and how the silence that surrounds pregnancy loss can engulf one’s life, one’s existence. Our call also reminded me of a blog I posted about a gravestone I once saw that marked the death of fetus. As I commented in that blog, it wasn’t a pro-life stunt. It was a family who had been given permission not only to mark the death of their baby while in utero (or loss of their pregnancy) but to recognize all those other families that have suffered the same pain. In silence.
Reproductive medicine has provided so many advances to assist infertile couples in achieving their dreamed of family but recurrent pregnancy loss remains largely unexplained. While theories abound, there are far too many of us who don’t know why this happens to us, repeatedly. Reproductive medicine and reproductive law now give us the option of having our biological child carried by someone who is likely to deliver that child when we can’t. Indeed, the option to use a surrogate after experiencing pregnancy loss is perhaps the driving force behind at least half of my clients who come to me to assist them with legal agreements as they begin their journey using a surrogate. As is the case with the call and the client I just mentioned.
As many of you know, in the absence of an explanation of why my babies die, I was too frightened that a surrogate might lose my child. I couldn’t ask another woman to risk experiencing the pain I have dealt with so many times. Adoption was always something my husband and I had wanted to pursue so when we were faced with the [dreaded] conversation where our doctor told us we were out of options other than surrogacy or adoption, it was a no-brainer for us. It was going to be adoption. And as one of the women in the trailer for “Still” points out, I wouldn’t turn back the clock or make different decisions; because without those pregnancy losses I wouldn’t be parenting the two beautiful children I have now. I cannot imagine a life without these particular little souls in it. It seems like a heartbreaking price to pay but as I told my new client, one day when this is all over and you are holding your baby in your arms, it will make sense and you will know that but for all that came before (all 12 of those horrendously difficult pregnancy losses) this little baby wouldn’t be yours.
But as she journeys toward that day where she hopefully does feel that sense of peace and gratitude for the child in her arms, she is left with a huge void. She has no one to talk to. I had no one to talk to. Even my best IVF friends didn’t understand how I felt. Excuse me: how I FEEL. I still feel pain on a day that one of my longtime friend’s celebrates, the day she heard the heartbeat of each of the babies she was carrying. I don’t begrudge her that joy. I celebrate with her. But for me, inside, it always is a reminder of the miscarriage that I experienced just a few days earlier. My client and I share a special bond, one of knowing what each carries inside her and the thoughts that creep into our mind throughout the day. Thoughts that largely go un-shared with anyone.
Will “Still” do justice to this topic, to this diagnosis, to the countless women and men who have endured the loss of a life growing inside them or one that came into the world far too early to survive? I think so. I hope so. Because I would like nothing more than for women like me who are going through what I went through, women like my new client, to have a voice in the reproductive community. To have doctors pay attention to our kind of infertility. To have better resources and support groups. To just plain have a voice to express their pain. Amazing options for family building notwithstanding, the pain associated with recurrent pregnancy loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth shouldn’t continue to be shrouded in silence.
And so today I thank the people behind this documentary entitled “Still”. THANK YOU for initiating a dialogue that is long overdue.
And one final note, to all those physicians who have dedicated their careers to exploring the mystery of recurrent pregnancy loss . . . THANK YOU.
If you would like to watch the trailer click here
December 7, 2012 | By: Liz | Filed under: adoption,Check This Out,Current Affairs,Egg Donation,Financing Fertility Treament or Adoption,In the News,IVF,known sperm donation,Personal Musings,The Journey to Parenthood,Third-Party Assisted Reproduction,Thoughts on Choosing an Egg Donor,Uncategorized
Every once in a while I have true conflicts between my self as a former infertility patient and my career as a reproductive lawyer and adoption attorney. A couple of years ago, I wrote a law review article on the disposition of frozen embryos, and whether or not talking about embryo adoption was legally correct whether the better, more appropriate terminology was/is embryo donation. There are hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos in cryopreservation in this country where the intended parents of those embryos no longer wish to use the embryos for their own family building. These embryos are often referred to as “leftovers” a term which somewhat disturbs me but is strictly speaking, accurate. These embryos are “leftover”, after a family was created through IVF and now remain in a state of frozen suspension. Many of those embryos could be used to help build another family, and be donated to an infertile couple. There was some confusion as to whether these embryos should be placed for adoption or donated in a similar manner to egg and sperm donation and I wanted to resolve that confusion — at least for myself. I ultimately drew the legal conclusion that the term embryo adoption isn’t really accurate because there isn’t a human being to adopt. I could go into a lengthy analysis of how I came to that conclusion but your eyes would roll back in your head and you would probably start drooling from boredom. So let’s just defer that analysis and argument for another day. If you are interested, you can get a copy of the article on the web (click here). I now happen to be a huge advocate for embryo donation. I think it is a fabulous way to build a family. However, these are musings for another blog. But my article did provide some clarity to those medical facilities which are banking those frozen “leftover” embryos.
So here I have been sitting happy as a woman with a barren uterus could ever be, contemplating my holiday shopping safe and secure in my belief in, and advocacy of embryo donation. And then I hear about this doctor in California who has a new kind of embryo bank.
Before I heard of this physician in California, I was aware of only one type of embryo bank; one where frozen “leftover” embryos are being made available for donation to infertile families. These frozen embryos were the subject of my law review article. This new embryo bank, however, does not contain any of these “leftover” frozen embryos. This bank is comprised of embryos which were recently created using carefully selected donor eggs and donor sperm. The donated eggs are fertilized with the donated sperm and the resulting embryos are frozen for future selection by hopeful intended parents. Let’s stop briefly and note emphasis on the words “future selection”. We will circle back to why this is relevant but I wanted to point out that these embryos are being created for future selection by wanna-be-moms and dads.
This physician has created his embryo bank in a manner to facilitate selection for all types of characteristics — everything from physical traits like blond hair and blue eyes to religious ethnicity. Jewish embryos, who knew? Actually, this could be fantastic for Jewish couples who need a single Jewish egg donor, and/or want to further ensure a connection with Judaism by having a genetic connection on the sperm side of life. You have no idea how hard it can be to find a specific ethnic donor and this is something I gather this doctor has identified as a plus to his business model. Speaking of business models, he also offers a money back guarantee. You choose a batch of embryos to use to try and get pregnant. If you don’t get pregnant the first time, you get two more tries using different batches of embryos. If you don’t get pregnant, you get 100% of your money back (approx. $12,000).
Upon hearing of this embryo bank a part of me was disgusted and a part of me . . . well I was excited. Super excited. Especially about the money back guarantee.
The infertility patient part of me sees this as a great opportunity to get pregnant. Frozen embryo transfers — while statistically less successful than fresh embryo transfers — can be lot easier to go through than an IVF cycle. For me having the embryos created using donor gametes isn’t a big deal. But if it were, I would be able to select an embryo based on whatever I might deem important. So, yeah baby! Let’s have another baby! Give me this doctor’s number. I am in! Or perhaps it would be better to say the embryos are [going to be] in [me]!
But the legal scholar, academic, intellectual, lawyer part of my brain is sitting here vomiting and is pissed that I am putting these thoughts onto cyber-paper and making an argument in favor of this horrific new kind of embryo bank. Stork Lawyer Reality check: It is pretty much illegal to create embryos without first having identified intended parents as recipients for those embryos and from what I understand, there are no intended parents waiting for those embryos when this doctor is creating them. The intended parents don’t enter the picture until the embryos are selected from the database and someone signs up with this program to undergo an embryo transfer procedure. This is where that whole “future selection” comes in.
The laws regarding assisted reproduction essentially come down to intent to parent before conception: in a third party assisted reproductive arrangement there is supposed to be a contract or other document signed before the embryos are created, whereby intended parent(s) agree to be legally and morally responsible for the embryos and children that may result from the ART process. In this case there is no such contract or preexisting intended parent. The embryos subject of my law review article all had intended parents before the egg and sperm came together to create the now frozen “leftover” embryo. But this new type of embryo banking lacks that component. There are no intended parents choosing the eggs and the sperm with the immediate intent to parent.
And speaking of all those “leftover” embryos shouldn’t we first be dealing with and using all the existing cryopreserved embryos before we go about creating them? And what about the potential that this doctor may be creating even more “leftover” frozen embryos (what happens to those embryos that don’t get selected)?
Let’s not analyze whether this is baby selling. I can’t, or won’t go there, although many others have. Consanguinity, or the risk of an individual created through donor gametes marrying or having a child with a genetic sibling is another issue that has been raised. The number of families that are created using any individual egg or sperm donor’s genetic material is a concern not to be overlooked or ignored. These donors presumably are also donating through egg donation agencies, fertility clinics or sperm or egg banks. We all have been astonished by stories of men who have discovered that they have fathered over a 100 children as a result of their donation to sperm banks — there is a significant risk that through this new type of embryo banking program not only will children have multiple full siblings running around but that egg and sperm donors have created half siblings through other programs.
Even more, if I understand this program correctly (and I am pretty sure I do) batches of embryos are being created which contain embryos which are full siblings to embryos which are contained in other or separate batches of embryos. It sounds like it is possible that three separate donations could take place using these three batches of embryos. Okay, follow-me slowly here for a minute because this is a little bit like playing Twister. In other words, three batches of embryos each of which contain embryos which are full genetic siblings to embryos in other batches, could be donated to three different families thereby creating three separate families whose children are all full genetic siblings to each other!
Do the recipients of these embryos know how many full genetic siblings their child may have? Are the donors aware?
It is supposedly almost impossible from a statistical standpoint for one of these children to marry its full sibling. But when you add in the half siblings that could be created through other donation programs, and/or smaller ethnic groups for whom donation can be a challenge because of the limited number of donors available matching their ethnicity, doesn’t the risk become somewhat more than insignificant? And even if it doesn’t, I worry that people don’t have enough information about how many genetic siblings are out there whether they are full or half siblings.
But I get it, I get why he did it. Especially for someone with an ethnic background this type of program would be hugely popular and let’s not forget the money back guarantee. We’re all broke after trying IVF multiple times, why the heck not take out a second mortgage if you know you will be able to pay it back if you don’t get pregnant? Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
I am at war with myself. I want to go running to that clinic and pick out an embryo tomorrow. And then my lawyer (self) tells me to stop and think about whether I want to participate in, and thereby endorse a practice which I believe, in my own legal opinion, is legally impermissible, and legally and medically unethical. Is my desire to be a gestational mother stronger than my moral center? Good question.
The views expressed in this blog are the views and opinions of this author and are not intended to provide or constitute legal advice or a statement of the laws as they may pertain third-party assisted reproduction within the United States.
October 18, 2011 | By: Liz | Filed under: anonymous sperm donation,Check This Out,Current Affairs,In the News,Infertility on Television,known sperm donation,Personal Musings,Sam Sex Parenting and Reproductive Law,Thinking Out Loud,Third-Party Assisted Reproduction
There have been a ton of interesting articles in magazines recently about third party assisted reproduction. One particular article caught my attention and both intrigued and kind of grossed me out.
The article was in the October 10th/17th edition of Newsweek, “You got your sperm where?” The discussion in the article focused on how people are finding sperm donors (SD for short) through the internet (the “virtual” donor). The article described one donor-recipient match and donation that was initiated through web contact and fulfilled via a donation made in a Starbucks bathroom in NYC. Major yuck factor to that one. Seriously, have you been in a Starbucks bathroom recently? The line outside the bathroom will give you an indication of how actively they are used (hopefully not all for sperm donation purposes), and thus how potentially grimy they are. I have a pretty high threshold for gross bathrooms and overall I think Starbucks does a good job keeping its bathrooms clean. However, with the high traffic many of these bathrooms experience, you have to assume that they are crawling with germs. And if you are trying to have a baby, at least to me, public bathrooms and sperm donation don’t make a great combination. But to each his or her own, I suppose.
The thing that really got me, aside from the fact that this was taking place in Starbucks, was the lack of thought people were giving to what they are doing. It’s one thing to go on a blind date with someone you met on an internet dating site. To conceive a child from an online site — one that is not run by a sperm bank — seems a wee bit more frightening than agreeing to meet your average Tom, Dick or Harry for dinner or drinks.
One of the reasons people seem to be turning to online sources is to avoid the anonymity of sperm banks. There is a sperm donor registry that is designed to help families created through anonymous donation, match the SD’s with the children conceived from the donations and to help children/adults conceived through sperm donation find their biological father. The appeal of finding a random guy from whom you will receive donated sperm, and with whom you can establish some kind of non-anonymous but also non-parent-child relationship, is appealing to many people. I get that. No problem there. Except, I don’t know, maybe some legal issues surrounding that lack of parent-child relationship. . . .
Known sperm donation agreements are some of the trickiest agreements a reproductive lawyer can draft. I am always extremely careful when I draft them. Why you ask? Because, even though the goal of the agreement may be to avoid having the SD be liable for child support or retain any parental rights to the child conceived through the donation . . . courts overturn them with surprising frequency. All it takes are a couple of birthday cards signed “love Dad” and a court may well determine that, notwithstanding my carefully drafted known sperm donation agreement, the SD does indeed have parental rights, is liable for child support, and the child may even be able to inherit through “donor dad’s” estate. Did any of us intend for that to happen when we sat down at the table to discuss what they wanted the agreement to accomplish? No. My clients usually want to have a friend donate sperm so that they can have a child (alone or with a partner), and have the comfort of knowing who the person is that is donating his genetic material. All those “what-if” and “what is he like” questions can be answered later by the existence of a specific known SD.
If the SD and the recipient mom don’t want to have a parental relationship — for example two women in a relationship who intend to parent a child together but don’t want to use an anonymous sperm donor, and would like a close friend of theirs to donate his sperm (think along the lines of a well-known singer and her partner and another very well known male singer) — the sperm donation agreement becomes a critical component for recognition of the intended family unit. The sperm donation agreement establishes what everyone intends to happen, and what everyone intends to be their respective rights and responsibilities in the future. These intentions are set forth in writing prior to the conception of a child. Most of the case law in the US that involves third-party assisted reproduction (including known sperm donation) looks to the parties’ intent at the time the child is conceived. Provided that everyone sticks to the terms of the agreement, usually a good sperm donation agreement will be upheld if ever there are arguments, disagreements, or when and if someone suddenly wants something that was NOT intended when the agreement was drafted. The thing is that just a few real-life events can cause that sperm donation agreement, and the parties’ intention, to come into question. A court could decide that while the parties may have written down and signed an agreement that said one thing, their actions reveal a contrary intent. Actions frequently speak louder than words when it comes to known sperm donation arrangements.
So let’s get back to the people who donated and received the sperm at Starbucks. Do you think they took the time to consult a reproductive lawyer? Did they consider what the consequences would be 10 years down the road if suddenly one person decided they wanted a different type of relationship or needed child support? It didn’t sound like it from the article in Newsweek. While their intent may have considered the prospective best interests of the child — having a person that the child could one day meet or speak to and thus avoid identity issues that plague many children conceived via anonymous sperm donation (thus giving rise to the donor registry I mentioned) — the reality of what they were doing and the lack of awareness of the long term ramifications are mind boggling.
According to the article, one man who is donating sperm through online forums, is asking the recipient to scream “make me pregnant!” or something like it during intercourse. Let’s agree to not discuss the fact that they weren’t using medical professionals or a home insemination kit. The statement the recipient is being asked to state in and of itself could be interpreted as an expression of their mutual agreement and intent to parent a child, TOGETHER. Did the recipient of this sperm intend for this man to be the FATHER of her child? I don’t believe she did. Or did she? Did the SD?
And hey, are we doing background medical checks of any kind? Does anyone know if the people donating or receiving the sperm are healthy or otherwise able to parent a child? What if the SD has an infectious disease? What if the recipient is an ax-murderer? Odds are they aren’t anything other than people with good and honorable intentions. But if the law comes down to intent, don’t we owe it to the child to express that intent?
The internet is a wonderful place and it is a frightening place. We all have heard horror stories stemming from internet match-making. Let’s not add conception of a human being to those horror stories. For anyone considering this type of sperm donation, and apparently there are plenty of people doing it, or even those seeking to enter into a known sperm donation with the assistance of medical professionals, do me a favor: Find a reproductive lawyer or a family lawyer and talk about how you want to protect your family!
Maybe I am over-thinking this. Maybe it’s not different than someone who goes to a bar knowing she is ovulating, with the intent to hook-up with some guy and hope she gets pregnant. At least the people going to Starbucks theoretically know each other’s real names and have some information about each other, and both know that a child is being conceived. Good intentions and lack of (legal) judgment aren’t a crime. Then again, apparently Law & Order made an episode about this subject (maybe not involving a Starbucks sperm donor) and I would love to watch it. I wonder what issues the writers of Law & Order found to address?
And really, I am just totally dumbfounded by this, someone donated his sperm in a Starbucks bathroom? Wow. What’s next? A mile-high club for sperm donors?
May 26, 2011 | By: Liz | Filed under: adoption,In the News,Infertility In The Movies etc.,Infertility on Television,IVF,Peace to Parenthood,Personal Musings,The Journey to Parenthood,The Two Week Wait Care Package,Thinking Out Loud,Third-Party Assisted Reproduction,visualization
I have periodically blogged about how Hollywood portrays infertility, but I have never really focused on how Hollywood or television portrays parenthood. There are tons of great movies and t.v. shows about parenting, but there isn’t a ton that really addresses the transition people go through when they become parents: The Leap from Infertility to Parenthood. Granted there are fantastic movies like Juno that really capture aspects of adoption, but until now I haven’t really seen a movie or t.v. show that helped me understand (even as Monday Morning QB) what the transition — the Leap — is like. I am always “warning” my clients to be prepared for life with baby, but I previously have not had anything I could tell them to watch which accurately represented or characterized the Leap.
Well that has all changed. Last weekend I was watching a movie with my DH (Dear Husband). He had rented the film and I had agreed to watch it (despite an initial lack of interest) because the main character was played by Katherine Heigl, who is as we know, an adoptive mom. Not only do I love her films in general but I always am willing to watch a movie where the actor is in real life a parent through ART (assisted reproductive technologies) or adoption. And I am especially interested if the film involves parenting or the formation of a family. Putting aside a desire to escape my life and enjoy the movie, I always wonder whether the actor’s personal experiences with infertility, ART or adoption will influence his or her choices as an actor.
To be honest, when DH proposed watching this film I had no idea what it was about. I was inclined to pass as I had a vague recollection that the film had not been a tremendous success at the box office. But when I heard that Katherine Heigl (who ranks #2 behind J.A. as one of my favorite female actresses) was one of the lead actors, I caved. And what a good decision that turned out to be!
The movie in question is “Life as We Know It” starring KH and Josh Duhamel (JD). You can check out a trailer at http://lifeasweknowitmovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/
In this movie KH and JD play the close friends of a couple who pass away, and who name KH/JD as their baby’s legal guardians. Romantic comedy aside, the movie is a fantastic and very realistic portrayal of the Leap, and how the relationship between the parents can change. As I was watching this movie, both my DH and I were struck by how much the movie reminded us of what it was like to suddenly go from being wanna-be parents to BOOM being parents.
I think the movie really resonated for me because I am an adoptive parent who had very little notice of our pending adoption and I had never really focused on what it would be like to be a parent (let’s face it I spent the entire time wanting a baby and never realistically envisioned what it would be like to have the baby and be a mom). Once the movie really gets past the characters’ acceptance that they are now parents, there are some very insightful moments about the reality of being a parent and how different that reality is from your expectations. Whether or not you take a baby care class as part of your adoption plan, I highly recommend this film because I think that it really shows you — and in a humorous, light-hearted manner — what you are in for when someone hands you that baby! From changing that first poopy diaper, to installing baby gates and midnight runs to the pediatrician, I think that Life as We Know It is a great primer for prospective parents through adoption or assisted reproductive technologies like gestational surrogacy.
Most people who have gone through infertility tend to have blinders on about the reality of parenting. Whether you only have 24 hours notice or ten months to prepare for your baby’s arrival, this film has some very poignant moments about what the transition feels like and what surprising issues parenting can present us with. Best of all it’s fun to watch. It is a surprisingly good romantic comedy, Josh Duhamel is total eye candy (and I won’t hold it against my DH that he thinks Katherine is eye candy too), and it’s sweet, has a happy ending and all that stuff. So if you are on your way to parenthood after experiencing medical or social infertility, I think this movie is a Must See.
And not to totally discredit my intelligence, my DS (Dear Son) has turned me on to SpongeBob SqaurePants. I had the unexpected pleasure this week (while cleaning up a child’s puke) of watching an episode of SpongeBob involving a baby scallop and SpongeBob’s experiences as a new parent. This episode of SpongeBob presents a similarly hysterical and informative perspective of what the Leap is like to being a full time SAHM. I can’t remember the title of the episode off the top of my head (I will check the DVR and post the name of the episode if I can find it), but suffice it to say that I could relate to SpongeBob’s adjustment to caring for a baby all day and all night while Patrick (his best friend) goes off to work every day as they simulate and satirize what its like to be new parents.
I totally and completely remember that in the beginning of my “maternity leave” I had a rough time. By Wednesday night when DH walked through the door, I was an exhausted mess. Thursday night, when DH returned from work and walked-in the door, I handed over DS and went upstairs to have a good exhausted-woman-cry-in-the-shower. By Friday night, I was prepared for the hand-off at the door, and upon hand-off I bolted out of the house to have coffee at Starbucks (decaf of course b/c I was breastfeeding).
So what am I getting at? ”Life as we know it” as parents is very different from life as we know it while waiting for the Stork. I don’t really care whether or not you are taking baby care classes or infant CPR (although I think both are excellent ideas) because the reality of life as a new parent is vastly different than anything we can ever learn in school. As infertile prospective parents we tend to be so focused on our goal of becoming parents that we lose sight of what we are in for when we are parents. It is a transition the likes of which you just can’t understand until you are living it and why I call it the Leap. Life As we Know It and even (surprisingly) Master SpongeBob, have nailed it on the head and I highly recommend watching them (when I find out the title of that SpongeBob episode, I will post it and maybe you can find it somewhere and watch it). Both are totally and completely worth watching.
p.s. please note that I am not complaining about being a parent. I love every minute of this crazy, full-catastrophe life I am living! I want more kids and my attitude now is much more about enjoying and being mindful of the joy in this experience. I am just saying that these movies can help prepare you for the full-catastrophe aspect of parenting.
p.p.s. If you have any other movies that you think are good to watch as prospective parents, post them here. Maybe we can start a list of “Movies to Watch During the Wait”!!