Husband’s in school, I know I’ve mentioned it before. Child and Adolescent Development is a state requirement for all teachers. I do his reading for him and came across a section in his book entitled Social Issues: Health – The pros and cons of reproductive technologies.

Now, I can’t help but be skeptical of what they’re going to cover. I start reading, because I try to skim before I record, that way I’m familiar with the text. As I read, each paragraph contained something I disagreed with. Sometimes it was a statistic, sometimes the tone. Then, he was working on class discussions. (It’s an online class) and found that a student had taken it upon herself to share her opinions on infertility. I thought you might be interested in his response. We sat down and went over what he thought were inaccuracies in the book. He could have let it go but he thought it was too important.

After reading the chapter and reading the posts, I wanted to address some concerns raised in both. My wife and I have firsthand experience with artificial reproductive technologies. I think many people can say what they think they would do in our situation, but it’s hard to know until you’re faced with it. Infertility is difficult and adoption is not the perfect solution for everyone. Many people advocate adoption as an easy answer for couples faced with infertility. Loving a child who isn’t your own is not the primary reason most people don’t choose adoption.

The average couple decides to have their own children even though there are so many children who “need good homes”. Why should that right be any different for a couple who cannot conceive? Also, adoption requirements are very often inflexible regarding age, persons with disabilities or past health concerns.

Medical treatment for infertility is the same as any treatment for a disease. One in six couples experiences some form of infertility, yet most people are afraid to share their story because of society’s stigma. I felt that the textbook reflected some of these negative stereotypes and attitudes. My wife runs a local chapter of a national infertility organization, and from the research we see, I know that some of the examples and statistics in the book are flawed.

– Sex sorting in InVitro Fertilization (IVF) is not available to couples as a way to choose one gender over the other. Most reproductive endocrinologists require proof of a gender related disorder before they will proceed. Pregenetic implantation diagnosis (PGD) is not used to make “designer babies”. If you can remove diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s, Sickle-Cell, Thalassemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and certain cancers why wouldn’t you? You could effectively remove the risk of your child ever struggling with those illnesses. PGD also assists in correcting chromosomal problems that would lead to miscarriage and late-term pregnancy loss.

– The majority of children conceived via IVF are in fact the biological product of both their parents. Donor eggs, sperm and embryos account for about 15% of births.

– The question of to tell or not to tell is a difficult one. Most couples do in fact tell their children of their conception once the children are old enough to understand.

– Both egg and sperm donors are screened for STD’s, health disorders, genetic diseases and chromosomal abnormalities. No tissue bank in the U.S. is allowed to bypass these requirements.

– The rate of multiples is not nearly as high as the book would have you believe. Twins is the most common form of multiple pregnancies with IVF. They occur in less than 35% of live IVF births. Triplets account for less than 8% and anything higher is unusual. The high order gestations you see on TV are usually the result of an unmonitored insemination, or the result of an OB/GYN without specialized infertility training prescribing fertility medications.

– Over the last few years, studies were finalized that said that birth defects among children born from IVF were not significantly different than the number among children conceived without medical intervention. Some studies that compile data don’t account for advanced maternal age, which can sometimes increase risk of birth defects. Of course, no study is completely comprehensive, but the National Institute of Health is keeping a close eye on children born via technologies.

– The case of surrogacy the author chose to illustrate her point was a poor example. This is NOT a realistic picture of a surrogacy scenario. Furthermore, the book focuses on traditional surrogacy, where the egg is from the woman who carries the child; and not the more common gestational surrogacy where a woman has another couple’s embryo transferred into her uterus.

– As far as the ethical question of the parent’s age, I pose this question. Society does not dictate how old a young person must be before they begin parenthood, should they dictate that a woman is too old? Infertility can affect men and women, old and young. Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term. If the partners are over 35, the period of trying is reduced to six months. The media portrayal of an infertile couple and the Hollywood stories you hear are not always reality.

-Couples who undergo treatment do not enter into it lightly. They must weigh the various factors – financial, social, ethical and medical. My wife and I have been trying to have a child for 3 years. We have undergone some of the procedures mentioned in this section. While many people have the ability to start their family when and however they want, many do not.

I hope these facts have enlightened you and will encourage you to keep an open mind the next time you hear or read about infertility.

If you want to read the article, you can email me, I have an adobe file of the section. I’m looking forward to a response from the instructor and his classmates. I love my husband for jumping on my soapbox.

Random remarks

First, a serious topic that deeply concerns me. “Fun” size Snickers are not so fun anymore. They have shrunk. Kids everywhere should feel cheated this Halloween.

This morning I saw “baby dust” on eBay. Yeah, I had the same reaction. However, it’s been removed, so I could not find a link. Damn, I know you would have snapped it up immediately! If only I had learned of said dust years ago. Do you think the dust that collects on this computer screen will work?

Husband and I visited my dad’s office at his new school. It’s so nice to see someone finally getting what they want and deserve.

I miss Mellie. If you’re around, just pop in to say hi!

My kid brother broke up with his girlfriend a few weeks ago. I’m sad but I’m not. I hope someday he can find someone wonderful. Under all his shit and tough guy attitude, he has such a good heart.

I went to dinner with a pregnant person Tuesday night. Aren’t you proud of me? Granted, she’s not at the showing point, but I still was a teensy bit nervous. Kudos to her for being a sweet, sensitive and wonderful friend.

I’m frustrated with my work for RESOLVE. I’ll have to finish this up with another post, but I need some motivation, or help, or something.

Oh, he shaved off his goatee. I was very happy and then very sad. He had one when we first met, but I convinced him to shave it a few months later. Before that, he had had one for 16+ years. His bare face was nice and he looked much younger. Sometime this spring he decided to grow it back. I first thought it might have been a phase, but then he explained his logic. He was going to let it grow until we had a healthy baby. So, as we planned our IVF, we joked that come March he’d be getting out the heavy duty razor blades. He came to me the other night with it gone. He later explained that it was making him sad, and he was worried that I was constantly reminded of what was not to be. It’s amazing how something so simple can make you feel something so powerful.

Thank you for all your kind comments on the last post. I appreciate the camaraderie, the wisdom and the love you bring me. You have even given me the courage to approach other difficult topics.

Sleepless nights

When I was little I hated going to bed. Since, of course, all the good stuff happened after bedtime. I remember when, as a teenager, sleepless nights seemed romantic

I hosted and went to all night sleepovers where everyone finally crashed as the light broke and you awoke hours later in a rush to eat chocolate chip pancakes. You’d hurry and get dressed, partly because the parents were sick of girls’ giggles and partly because you were exhausted and wanted to sleep in your own bed.

Can you remember the first night you stayed up all night talking? Or the first time you told your parents you stayed up all night “talking”.

I remember being up all night while responsible for someone else’s children. A thunderstorm proved mightier than stuffed animals and lullabies. I remember eating frozen waffles with a 2 year old boy and his 4 year old sister. That memory still sticks out in my head years later. At the time it was a memory I expected to reproduce with my own children.

Then there was the first summer I performed on stage. I was young and staying up all night was a blast. There were a few of us underage actors. We were so tired but stayed awake rehashing rehearsals and gossiping about older actors. There was something so cool about listening to music and sharing clothes and talking about anything.

There was the group of kids I met at a college orientation. We stayed up all night the first night and the second. The first was fueled by fun and curiosity, the next with lots of coffee. When I got home I fell asleep talking to my father. Apparently I was in the middle of a sentence. My dad still chuckles when he thinks about it.

There was my wedding night, no comments please, we didn’t crawl into bed until after 4AM the next morning.

I have many fond memories of being up at all hours. I’ve met some great friends between the hours of 12-6 AM. That said, it isn’t so fun anymore. Nights like those have ceased to exist.

There were the nights I plugged away at my business plan, desperately trying to get everything ready for my meeting with the bank. There was the night of my first miscarriage. I was alone and confused and not sure of what was happening until it happened. There was Christmas last year, a string of nights punctuated by fits on the bathroom floor.

And now these nights, where physically I could drop, but when trying to sleep nothing happens. That’s not entirely true, things happen, but not sleep. I’ve tried the trazadone the GP gave me at Christmas in lieu of a better Rx or an actual conversation. I tried husband’s cyclobenzaprine, since those worked when I wrecked my leg in January. I tried the anxiety pill the whacked out shrink gave me to try. Nothing is inducing sleep, and that’s counting the more traditional remedies that have already failed.
However, I can try boring myself to sleep by reading this post, so I’ll say goodnight and go check out the TV shopping. They’re always perky at 4, I can thank them for that.