news item: canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender

On Monday (Canada Day, as it were) I found this news story in a roundabout sort of way. The short version is that I was reading a new blog called Tiny Human(s) for Two Queers and saw the book mentioned. In the comments, I saw that April recommended sending it to us here at PAIL. I decided to check it out before she emailed (and sorry to beat you to the punch April!) My first thought, was YES! And then I went to read the article, which more or less had me at “Hello”:

Not every baby comes from a mommy and daddy who fell in love. Sometimes, kids have two moms, or a single dad, or they were adopted. Some babies are conceived through in vitro fertilization or with the help of a surrogate mom.

This article discusses the book What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.

It’s vague on purpose. Silverberg said he describes the rudimentary factors in how his little readers were created. But it’s up to parents to tell them the rest.

“I explain the basics that are true about every child, but I let the parents fill in the details about how (the kids) were made – and it can be as much or as little as they want,” he said.

I still have VIVID memories of the book I was handed to explain where babies come from. It was the usual “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they give each other a special hug” kind of story with random, graphic details that I can still quote word for word.

Here is the quote from the author that I loved the most:

“We’re just starting to get the notion that a family is a group of people who love each other but just look different.”

I read through this article several times and watched the YouTube video. I have since read (and ordered) the book and suffice it to say that it gave me EMOTIONS. I had serious doubts that this story could be told without sex or gender and was glad to be proven wrong. In my opinion, a resource like this is sorely needed, ALI or not. While waiting approximately 11 minutes for April to email, I started having a vague memory that Josey had mentioned this book before during our “Where Do Babies Come From?” monthly theme back in January. Sure enough, Josey was a contributor to the Kickstarter to get this book going. I chatted with her about it and here’s what she had to say:

When I first heard about this book in February 2012 through the Kickstarter program, I knew that I wanted to give a few dollars to show my support of a project that acknowledged that families are built and babies join them in a multitude of different ways. What Makes a Baby is written in such a way that it’s incredibly open ended – when you are ready to delve into the deeper issues that surrounded your family building journey, this book will be there for you.
*
In the forward written by Cory Silverberg, he states “[This book] doesn’t include information about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. But it creates a space for you to share as few or as many of those details as you’d like.” He also includes a free downloadable reader’s guide to help parents feel more comfortable about broaching all of these subjects – http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/readers-guide/.
*
Bottom line – I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not you traveled an ALI journey while creating your family. This book will help to explain and normalize the fact that while all families are built differently and that is something to be celebrated, we all share a common humanity, and that is pretty awesome too.
Stella!

Stella!

*****

Do have this book, or one like it?

Do you think telling this story, in this way, is useful for your family and how it was built?

Do you have any resources of a similar nature to share? Link up in the comments.

Many PAIL Bloggers shared their detailed thoughts on this subject HERE – worth a re-read! It is never to late to leave a comment!

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

news item: personhood and A.R.T.

A little over two years ago my husband and I started the IVF (in vitro fertilization) process. We met with the doctor beforehand and discussed how many embryos we would transfer, and what our options would be for any leftover embryos. Our options for leftover embryos were to a) freeze them, b) donate them to research c) donate them to other couples d) do nothing, allow them to follow the natural course of an embryo in a petri dish, they don’t survive.

That decision, one we have kept private, was very hard for us, as I imagine it is for every couple who goes through IVF. The conversations my husband and I had about this issue though, those conversations were vital – and relationship building – for us. We talked about our faith, our finances, our personal feelings, and our gut instincts on what we felt we wanted to do with any leftover embryos.

There are currently conversations being held in state legislatures of the United States that would seek to make the conversations my husband and I had null. Several state governments in America are seeking to pass “personhood initiatives” which would give full legal rights to embryos from the moment of fertilization and place other restrictions on A.R.T.(Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedures. If passed, depending on the state you lived in, would determine whether you had the right to have that conversation my husband and I had, or even if you could pursue IVF.

This subject is a highly charged one. It is entrenched in the greater debate of abortion in the United States, yet has ramifications for couples seeking A.R.T., couples seeking to preserve fertility due to cancer treatments, couples needing to use egg, sperm, embryo donors, and/or gestational carriers. According to http://www.fertilitylabinsider.com:

“Personhood initiatives are one of the most dangerous threats aimed at public access to fertility and perinatal care, and would stand to severely hinder our ability to treat infertility with most assisted reproductive technologies.”

Personhood initiatives could limit the amount of eggs a doctor could retrieve for an IVF attempt, making those attempts much less likely to succeed and eliminating the possibility of freezing any embryos for future attempts. They could also require couples to freeze all viable embryos indefinitely, incurring years of preservation charges.

This issue is complicated. This is issue is important. There are several articles covering this issue and I am listing a few of them here. We hope you’ll read and comment and let us know what you think!

Personhood initiative articles:

Fertility Lab Insider

Resolve, the American National Infertility Association list of articles on personhood laws

CNN, “Could ‘personhood’ bills outlaw IVF?”

*****

What do you think about these ‘personhood’ initiatives and their possible impact on couples seeking A.R.T.?

If you live outside of the United States does your country/province/state have laws like this or seeking to pass laws like this?

If laws like this were passed, would it affect your future family planning?

*****

featured post – thoughts from a DE mom

Most discussions about donor gametes focus on technicalities– finding known or unknown donors, the origins of the reproductive disease causing ovarian failure, the manipulation of hormones and the uterine environment, the careful timing of transfers. Fewer discussions center around projected fears and the emotions surrounding the use of donor gametes– in fact, I think you’ll hardly see any unless you’re reading the blogs of people who have used donor gametes, and if you’re not reading those blogs, I would almost guarantee that you won’t see a thing written anywhere about what that experience is like after the child is born.

KS from Inconceivable!?!?! POF Journey, a self-described DE (donor egg) mom, wrote a refreshingly positive post about her experience as the mom of a toddler and another on the way through donor gametes:

I realized I haven’t mentioned my thoughts on DE in quite sometime.  And to be honest with you it’s because I seem to forget for the most part… Yes I am still very aware that Lola and I share no DNA, but there are still such similarities between us that it’s very easy to forget.  She seems to have my personality….  I don’t look at her and see her donor, I look at her and I see my miracle.  My Lola.

For us the idea of using a donor wasn’t even something we really had to discuss.  We both really wanted to experience the whole pregnancy thing.  The expanding belly, the kicks, the appointments, the cravings, etc… It was something we had both dreamed off…  And having DE as an option and the IVF technology available to us is just amazing.

The reason I call this post “refreshing” is, as I said above, because outside our blogging community there isn’t much said about the “after” of donor gametes. It’s only those who use donor gametes and write about it later who contribute to that portion of the story– and really, pregnancy is just nine months or less. What about the entirety of raising a child after the pregnancy is over? There is so much more to the story than just genes and IVF. (Sidebar: I think there are many parallels here to the adoption process as well– that child may not have your DNA, but that’s probably not the first thing on your mind at the dinner table when your child is ten and you’re just doing normal Mom stuff like giving him a lecture about turning his homework in on time. Parenting and love have nothing to do with DNA.) Here, KS shares with us how daily life with her daughter has made DE and genetics fade into the background of her parenting journey.

KS acknowledges that there is a downside to her experience, but it’s unrelated to donor gametes and sounds more like the general infertility experience:

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that there aren’t days where I am still very saddened by our journey.  But it doesn’t have anything to do with DE.  The reason I have sadness is because of the amount of time we lost trying.  And the amount of tears, sleepless nights and the financial burden my diagnosis put on us.  And the one thing that makes me really sad is that it took us so long to end up at the right clinic and find the right donor for us.

I think most of us can agree with that. For my part, I’m glad everything worked out as it did and I ended up with my beautiful girls, but certainly things would have been much easier if we hadn’t tried on our own for nearly two full years without success before starting treatments with our RE.

Pop on over to Inconceivable!?!?! POF Journey to read “Thoughts from a DE Mom” and other posts by KS. As always, comments here are closed so you can send your messages straight to KS on her blog.

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

january 2013 – where do babies come from?

Here are the posts for our January 2013 topic “Where Do Babies Come From?” Each of us had a unique path to tread to bringing our children home, and it will be interesting to see how we each plan to share the story. Both the “usual” paths, and the “scenic routes.”

If you mention any specific resources in your post, it would be AWESOME if you could also link us up in the comments on this post. We would love to add them to our Resources area.

In a week, this post will move to the drop-down menu in the pink toolbar, so you can check there to come back and see what you missed. It is never too late to leave a comment.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Have you thought about when your child(ren) might ask the “Where do babies come from”” question and what you might say?
  • Do you plan to talk to them about ALI in general in an age-appropriate way at that time, or wait until they are older? When they ask?
  • Have you thought about sharing your specific infertility/loss experience and treatments with your child(ren)? Why or why not?
  • If you brought your child home through adoption, what will this process look like for you? Have you previously written on this topic?
  • Do you consider the gender of your children to be important in what you share about your unique set of circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How do imagine your thoughts on this topic might evolve over time?
  • Do you have any tips or advice on how to make this topic (general reproduction and/or as it relates to the ALI journey) age-appropriate?
  • Do you have any resources (links, books, podcasts) etc. that you could share in the comments to add to our Resources page?

Contributing Bloggers:

  1. Allison of Allison’s Wonderland says “Mostly I ramble, but conclude that the most important thing when telling Henry the Story of Him is to reinforce how much my boy was wanted, and how loved he is” in her post, Having That Conversation.
  2. Lulu at The Wild Rumpus brings us “…thoughts about telling your son he was conceived in a petri dish, among other things” in her post, Made in a cup, like soup.
  3. Christine from Believing in June “…posted about how creating our daughter through IVF was a really special process for my husband and I, a process that brought us closer together and, we believe, makes Piper’s story all the more interesting!” in her post where my babies come from…
  4. Brittany at Infertile Mormon Mommy shares “Thoughts on what I will tell my kids when they finally ask “Where do babies come from?
  5. Ms. Future PharmD from Mom PharmD lets us in on “The basics on what we’ve told the kid so far about where babies come from.”
  6. SRB of Little Chicken Nuggets explains that babies come out of your butt, obviously, in her post where do babies comes from?
  7. Josey from My Cheap Version of Therapy tells us “How to talk about EWCM with your daughter… err, someday” in her post What Makes a Baby.
  8. Courtney of All the Sun For You shares her policy of “No secrets – just honesty.  Starting NOW” in her post Where Our Babies Come From.
  9. SLESE1014 at Mommyhood After Fertility Frustration tells us that “It wasn’t a stork…
  10. April of R. Sativus says “Where our babies come from isn’t as important as why they’re here.” in her post Where Do Babies Come From?
  11. Keanne from Family Building With a Twist shares a post she wrote last year about her son, surrogacy, and “Telling Him How He Came to Be.
  12. Jules from How I spend my Dash tells us that now she has something to think about in her post Where Do Babies Come From?
  13. Dresden from Creating Motherhood shares The Infertile Version of the “Where do babies come from?” question, including her personal story.

**If we missed you, please give us a link to your post in the comments below (with a short blurb) and we’ll move you to the list above!**

*****

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

january 2013 – monthly theme post – “where do babies come from?”

About 6 weeks ago, I was at the local community centre with HGB for Toddler RunAroundLikeABansheeonFire Gym, and a little girl started talking to me. She informed me that she was 3, had hair, was a big girl, could use the potty, had a dog, and disliked pants. Right on, young lady!

And then she said “Why is your belly so fat?”

Errrrrrrm… I briefly contemplated confessing my actual vs. admitted cheese intake, but opted for “Because there is a baby in there!”

I think I blew her mind. She looked back and forth between my face and my belly a few times before asking the inevitable: “How did it get in there?”

*CUE PANIC* I’ve taught sex education… in high school. I don’t know how to talk to a 3 year old about anything and now I have done a cannon ball into the “Where do babies come from?” conversation?!? I asked her if her parents were with her and she said she came with her nanny. So I crouched down and told her this:

“When you get home later, remember to ask your Daddy that question, okay?”

“OKAY!” she says, and runs away.

Crisis averted! And you’re welcome, That Kid’s dad.

*****

Two weeks ago, Jules highlighted a “news article” about how us infertiles are just wildly overbreeding, and that some day we are going to have awkward conversation explaining that to our 14 children.

All together now: ARGH! WTF! ARRRRGGGGGH!

But… it did raise a good point. Eventually, maybe even already, our kids are going to want to know where babies come from. It might be prudent to have a loose plan in place. Have you started to plan your plan? Because, uh, I haven’t, but it turns out these little people want to know things a lot earlier than I guessed.

After Jules posted that article, we got an email from April @ R. Sativus discussing how each and every one of us has a unique set of circumstances as to how our children came to be in our lives. She wondered how others have handled, have planned to handle, or have even thought about handling discussing their family building with their children. I was wondering the same thing after reading that article and posted the first few resources that popped into my head in the comments. But April really got *me* thinking… how am I going to handle this? What am I going to say, and when? Will I burst into flames or will I be a mature parent about it? I should probably plan for a plan! And lo, this month’s theme post topic was born.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • Have you thought about when your child(ren) might ask the “Where do babies come from”” question and what you might say?
  • Do you plan to talk to them about ALI in general in an age-appropriate way at that time, or wait until they are older? When they ask?
  • Have you thought about sharing your specific infertility/loss experience and treatments with your child(ren)? Why or why not?
  • If you brought your child home through adoption, what will this process look like for you? Have you previously written on this topic?
  • Do you consider the gender of your children to be important in what you share about your unique set of circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How do imagine your thoughts on this topic might evolve over time?
  • Do you have any tips or advice on how to make this topic (general reproduction and/or as it relates to the ALI journey) age-appropriate?
  • Do you have any resources (links, books, podcasts) etc. that you could share in the comments to add to our Resources page?

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Monday, January 21st at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Tuesday, January 22.

Please submit your posts using this form:

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

%d bloggers like this: