ionosphere, troposphere, blogosphere

8/11/11

Before we start the weekend proper, I wanted to THANK ALL OF YOU that went over to Tessa’s blog and made it one of the most-commented personal essays the Huffington Post’s Parenting section has run. It was even picked up in the U.K., and here in the U.S., they put it above-the-fold with a hilarious stock photography image:

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All of this is wonderful, because there’s a book idea brewing in there, and if you take out the comments that misspell Lucifer and Job (among others in the Bible), there’s a pretty good dialogue going on. Many of you fine folks made that possible.

There’s always so much judgment from others when it comes to fertility issues, which makes most women leave smoke bombs in their wake, obfuscating their true intentions, or glossing over shit they’d rather not explain. In a nutshell, here are a few observations about the World of Not Having Babies By Simply Bonin’:

• there is a vague but insidious notion that women over a certain age – let’s say 43 or 44 – are not worthy of pregnancy, and should just get over it already.

• as I’ve stated before, jack-off rooms for guys involved in IVF have the worst pornography curation imaginable. Seriously, I’d rather they have Cat Fancy or Scientific American over the crap in there.

• when you go through a bunch of miscarriages, and everyone around you effortlessly pushes out another child, it pisses you off. It is not your finest emotion, to be sure, and it’s not really directed at them, but there t’is.

• many women, especially actors in their late 40s, are using donor eggs but not telling anyone about it. They have a right to privacy, of course, but it is extremely misleading to the rest of women who think they can have their own biological child at 48 because of the miracle of science.

• the more involved you get in fertility efforts, the more you feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun, not just because people “tut-tut” your supposed freakish determination, but because you yourself start thinking you’ve moved too far away from The Way Things Are Supposed to Work.

• that, however, is an illusion, because none of us knows the way things are supposed to work.

• the day when women are able to reliably freeze their eggs for later fertilization will mark the real beginning of female emancipation. Currently, there is no good way to do it – but when you can harvest 50 eggs at the age of 20, flash-freeze them, and actually wait until you meet a decent partner… then the biological clock will stop ticking, and a generation of women will set that clock on fire and throw it into a canyon. It will be the game-changer Roe vs. Wade was, maybe bigger.

There’s so much more, but for now, I’m just proud of my wife, able to turn such a rotten 4-year experience into something positive. One correction, however: on the front page shown above, the article is titled “A Would-Be Mom’s Search”. As hundreds of you already know, Tessa is no Would-Be Mom. She is already one of the best moms on the planet, and I feel blessed every second I watch her do it.

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0 thoughts on “ionosphere, troposphere, blogosphere

  1. carey

    There is a lot of work being done on better ways to freeze eggs being pushed by the young adult cancer community since so many treatments take away fertility (even when the relevant organs are not disturbed).

    Reply
  2. Anon

    Beautiful piece by Tessa, and this is great too, Ian. I especially agree with the the part about others’ effortlessly having babies – but it helps me to remember that because miscarriage and fertility issues are still so often kept quiet, that maybe it’s not always as “effortless” as it might seem to others. When I had a miscarriage a couple months ago, I did tell several friends and family members who’d known I was pregnant, and many women told me about their miscarriages- including my mother, 2 aunts, mother-in-law, my husband’s grandmother, and one close friend. And I’d never known about any of them.

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  3. CM

    Yeah, I agree – the egg-freezing thing is growing right now. Unfortunately, it is still expensive and doesn’t have a high success rate yet. You are right, Ian – someday certain women will do it as a matter of course and be sad about the time in the past when women lacked that choice. Still, it’s probably always going to be a pretty invasive procedure and not something anyone will choose just for the hell of it.
    “There is a vague but insidious notion that women over a certain age – let’s say 43 or 44 – are not worthy of pregnancy, and should just get over it already.”
    You left out one of the biggest misconception – There is a vague but insidious notion that single women of a certain age – let’s say 35 and up – who want children but have to go it alone, did something wrong and now *deserve* to struggle with infertility. The most common misconception is that they didn’t take dating seriously early on, or were too “focused on their careers.” There may be some women for whom that is true, but most of those sorts of comments are put out there by smirking men who are still smarting over some girl who rejected them years ago and now want to believe all women who are unmarried or childless are that way because they rejected all those good, wonderful suitors they must have come across.
    I have a pretty good career and I still never canceled a date or rejected anyone so I could stay late at the office. I went on a lot of unsuccessful dates and it was never because the guy was really nice and sweet and I was too busy playing the field.
    (Luckily I did have a son so I’m not condemned to the fate of explaining myself for the rest of my life, but some women are. For instance, see the comments on Holly Finn’s “My Fertility Crisis” in the WSJ recently.)
    I’ll step off my soapbox now. (Gosh, if you knew me in person, I don’t spend all my time ranting, I swear!! I’m really pretty quiet.)
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903461104576458134196248312.html

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  4. CM

    See, I just popped over to the HuffPo comments and read this one: “check your diet…it’­s probably full of soy, known for it’s infertilit­y effects. Would that be God’s fault as well?”
    People on the internet are so smart and have the answer for everything! It’s all your fault because you are EATING SOY.
    You soy-eaters don’t deserve to reproduce. Because if you did? You’d probably produce babies who would probably grow up and eat soy too.
    Bastards.

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  5. Deb

    I’d like to add the notion that, because you have one kid already, if you have trouble having a second, you should just quit and be happy for the one you have. I had 5 early miscarriages in 6 months before conceiving my second, and definitely felt like I had no (or little) right to “complain”. Wanting a child is wanting a child. You’re probably sick of hearing it by now, but Tessa’s article was incredible.

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  6. AnonyMouse

    I think the simple fact is that people who haven’t experienced problems getting pregnant — or staying pregnant as the case may be — just don’t understand how difficult it is to not be able to have a baby. PERIOD. So, to anyone reading, if a friend confides this to you and you are inclined to say something dumb, just say ‘I’m so sorry, that must be really hard.’
    I had problems getting pregnant and went to a zillion doctors and was finally ‘fixed’ so I could get pregnant naturally — and thank God, I did. I was sure I would have to do IVF and am grateful I didn’t have to.
    I didn’t tell too many people about my struggle because people say really shockingly dumb stuff. Including the biggest fuck you of all, you can always adopt. Your parts don’t work right and you don’t know why and it’s incredibly painful when people say these things. To me it felt like telling an amputee, hey, at least you have your other arm! Or, you can always get a sweet hook as your hand and scare kids! You know what, they guy just wants his motherscratching hand back — the right to two hands, we all deserve it. Just like the right to have a baby without it being so damn traumatic.
    Now that I have been through it a bit, I know I was pretty lucky: it ‘only’ took me 15 months to get pregnant when some women try for years. And I knew after three months what was wrong (because something in me just knew something was wrong, I didn’t wait the requisite 6-12 months to see a doctor) so I went form diagnosis to pregnancy in 12 months. But I have two friends that I know of who took over a year to get pregnant and they have no idea why — what a hard year that must have been. I have at least one friend (that I know of) who has done IVF. And we have friends now who are in their early 40s who have been trying for 5 years and are now going to adopt. And then I have friends who look at their husbands and get pregnant.
    I’m babbling here. Tessa’s post and your post are both great. I guess what irks me (like you) are the countless stupid comments people make. If you haven’t experienced pregnancy/baby issues you simply cannot fathom how hard it is, so just like your mom told you at the playground, if you have nothing nice to say, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!!!!

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  7. Camel

    “Including the biggest fuck you of all, you can always adopt.”
    At least three people said that in response to the HuffPo story. And it’s always said in such a way as to chide the author – “there are so many needy kids, why aren’t you adopting them?” It’s particularly egregious this time because Tessa IS trying to adopt! But people say it anyway!!

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  8. kjf

    great post Tessa. cringed at some of the comments but adding the god angle to an infertility story just brings them out of the woodwork. those of us who know your story will remain hopeful that another child comes your way, no matter the path.

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  9. Randy

    Great post at HuffPo and here. Sorry that you both are going through it (having gone through it myself, though not as many times – Wow, can’t imagine). The picture at the end of this post by Ian says it all to me. You are both great parents to your little Lucy and you are clearly thankful for her, but you do look to give her a sibling and yourselves another child to be great parents to. And I am sure that all of this does cause you to question a loving God, as you do so elegantly, Tessa. The only thing I would add to that in my understanding of God (and I’m not a minister or theologian) is that I do believe that God does allow us to suffer for our own growth and to gain an appreciation of the good things that we do have in our lives. You have each other and you have Lucy (and I hope that there is a way that additional good things are added to you all).
    May you all find peace and happiness (though I think most of the time, from what I read here, you already have).

    Reply
  10. Susan

    Agree with 2nd poster Anon’s comment about more going on with those “effortlessly pushing out another child” than meets the eye. I’d be willing to bet everyone’s path on the road of fertility contains behind the scenes blood, sweat and tears.
    Actors in their late 40s using donor eggs??? Next you’ll tell me their tits and fat-free thighs aren’t natural either!
    The Way Things Are Supposed To Work…OK fine, none of us KNOW. But you are really kidding yourself if you think natural order is an illusion. Your scenario of women in their 20s freezing their eggs en masse is scarier to me than The Handmaid’s Tale. This would only add a lot more “abusive ex-boyfriends”-in-the-sky to the mix, would distance women even further than the current over-medicalization of childbirth already has from their own bodies. The biological clock is a biological fact. It is a reckoning women go through that illuminates the cycle of life and their mortality. It is not an elective passage. It surprises me you would think this in light of what the “miracles of science” have brought you thus far.
    Really appreciate CM’s insights. It’s really fucking complicated, everyone’s path.
    “including the biggest fuck you of all, you can always adopt”. As it’s presented by AnonyMouse, and as an adopted person reading it, I find this breathtakingly offensive. In so many different ways I don’t know where to begin honestly. So I’ll leave it there.

    Reply

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