Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Ignore the Ignorance... Educate!

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 22-28) and as an entry into the Bloggers Unite event to help bring awareness to Infertility, I have written this heartfelt post:

A peaceful town was in the news a few weeks ago because a doctor wanted to build a fertility clinic in a vacant space. This space is close to a church, an elementary school and a small college. Protesters came to the city board in hopes of stopping this "immoral place" from being built. One of the organizers of the protest commented that a child born through IVF "becomes a manufactured commodity" and is "reduced to an object, a product."

This sentence enraged me.

I'm currently 30 weeks and 3 days pregnant with twins via donor egg IVF and there is NO WAY that I view these babies as a "product" or "manufactured". I view them as an amazing gift. After a 5 year war with infertility (and I say war, because we went to battle, many many times), we made the not very easy decision to be done with my eggs and try a new route. And once we moved forward, we never looked back. I've been grateful for every. single. moment of this pregnancy and I'm already madly in love with these babies thriving away inside me. I can't wait to meet them, hold them, nurture them.... To me, and my husband, they are very far from "objects".

They are OUR children.

Just because we had to spend over $35,000 to even have this chance at a child on this ONE IVF cycle, in no way shape or form, minimizes their meaning to us. In fact, I would argue, people who go through fertility treatments to have their children, MAY even appreciate the fact that they are parents more so than if they were easy to conceive. (Now I'm not arguing we are better parents here, but just that we understand what it took to get them...and that perspective is very special.)

But then I tried to calm down a bit and think this through, or at least put myself in these protesters shoes. I understand why IVF and third party reproduction scare people and why some consider it unnatural. They are right. IVF was not the way nature intended children to be conceived. (I would say, though, that nature gave us all very intelligent brains and thus doctors, the ability to create these amazing processes that have helped many of us become parents)

But I believe that some media and a lack of awareness/education has a lot to do with this fear. Stories in the news can make IVF appear as a freakish thing that creates octo-moms and fabricates babies in places where "god didn't intend" a baby to be. This misrepresentation creates ignorance and fear.

Specifically, it causes people to make ignorant statements about IVF babies as commodities...


Fertility clinics are certainly not manufacturing babies. They are actually helping to create THE POTENTIAL for a baby to be born. With all of the time, money and effort that goes into taking eggs from a woman and sperm from a man, joining them in the lab, and then putting a few resulting embryos  back in the woman, fertility clinics still have not created a baby! Those embryos have to decide to snuggle in tight and stick around for 8 more months before a baby enters the world. And there is no fertility clinic that can gaurantee the success of the last part.

Through the four IVF cycles with my body, our fertility clinic helped us produce over 55 embryos... and not ONE of them turned into a baby. Not one. I bought the chance to have a baby, many times over, but we certainly did not buy a baby. If it were that easy, to just go out and buy a baby when we faced with the disease of infertility, would so many of us need the support of this community? Would so many of us want to build awareness and educate others that it is OK to need help?

If only I could meet these protesters and tell them my story. Maybe then they would see how their ignorance only hurts those of us who need help to experience the joy of having a baby. Maybe they would see how truly life altering and devastating it is to be infertile and feel isolated, depressed, anxious, and hopeless.  Maybe they would see how much I am in love with my babies already, how grateful I am and how they are not simply a commodity to me.

For those of you who would like to learn more about NIAW and the basics of the disease of infertility, please click on the links. The more you know, and educate yourselves, the more you can educate others.

Please pass this along!!


Kate said...

wow tippy, this is your best post to date. I'm so blown away how eloquent your words are.
These words resonated so deeply with me, "If it were that easy, to just go out and buy a baby when we faced with the disease of infertility, would so many of us need the support of this community? Would so many of us want to build awareness and educate others that it is OK to need help?"

Thank you so much for putting it out there into the universe where it needs to be. You are truly an inspiration and a source of strength in this community and I appreciate and admire you.

Charlene said...

Very well said! i just hate it when people speak like that about infertility clinics, and I agree, much of it is a lack of education.

Gracelyn Zegarelli said...

Excellent post! Congrats on your miracle babies as well. I know the struggle of infertility all too well. I wrote a blog post about my experiences for NIAW as well. :)

It's titled, "Could you be happy if life wasn't how we pictured it?"

Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples said...

Congrats on your Hope award nomination! Great post.

Holly said...

Congrats on your Hope Award nomination! It is an honor to be nominated with you. Great post!

Sassy said...

Congrats on the nomination. My husband and I also used an egg donor to conceive our 4 week old daughter. You expressed our sentiments exactly...thank you!