Feb 5 2014
A gut-wrenching story in the New York Times this week details the difficult decisions of Amanda Baxley who, immediately after discovering she was a carrier of a gene which leads to Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease, vowed to never have children. Buxley learned that due to the genetic disease, one day between the ages of 30 and 50, without warning, she will begin to “stumble like a drunk,” dementia will set in soon afterward, and within five years she will be dead. Her father, aunt, and several cousins all died from the disease. The day after she found out, her boyfriend proposed.
The story has a bittersweet ending. By using in-vitro fertilization, Baxley and her husband were able to create several embryos, test them in a petri dish, and select ones that were not carriers of the deadly gene. Today they have three healthy children who are not carriers of the disease.
But as genetic testing of embryos becomes increasingly refined, more and more parents are opting for the procedure for a wide range of reasons, opening new ethical questions about “playing God” and deciding which embryos deserve to live. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 4 2014
I had been trying to get pregnant for a year. Twelve months of charting my body’s rhythms, of turning sex from an art into a science; twelve times allowing my hopes to soar and then scraping them (and sometimes myself) off the floor.
I felt like I was beginning to lose my mind. Every pregnant woman on the street was a personal affront, every baby shower invitation an assault. When Britney Spears announced her pregnancy, I ranted about it to anyone who would listen. I organized our schedule around my ovulation and measured upcoming events by what month I would be in if we were successful this time around. I stopped sleeping.
The lack of control was maddening for a control freak like me, but even worse was the waiting. I’m task oriented; if I had to wait around for this pregnancy thing to happen, I needed to feel like I was taking concrete steps that would contribute to our eventual success. Give up caffeine? Done. Track my temperature? Daily. Obsessively check for fertile cervical mucous? More often than I care to admit. Though it put us into a new and scary category of “medical problem,” I was actually relieved when the insurance company finally cleared us to begin fertility treatment, because it meant there would be new action to take and new partners helping us in this seemingly intractable process of getting pregnant. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 30 2013
We are adopting. If all goes well, within the next few weeks, I will get pregnant and about eight months later I will give birth. But that baby will be adopted. Mind-blowing, no?
We’ve been trying to have a baby for five years. When we started trying, I had just turned 22 years old. We never dreamed we would have any problems. Even when we got the diagnosis that we would need IVF to have a baby, we still wanted to pursue fertility treatments instead of adoption. We wanted to have OUR baby–a baby that would be a combination of the two of us. His eyes and my hair. His smile and my nose. His stubbornness and my sense of humor.
We were incredibly lucky and our first IVF cycle worked. I got pregnant with twins–a boy and a girl. The perfect instant family. We even had four embryos frozen, waiting for us. Everything was finally working out. But after 22 weeks of a perfect twin pregnancy, disaster struck. Our babies were born too prematurely and died. We tried to get pregnant with the four embryos we had frozen, but none of them worked. We did another IVF cycle and I got pregnant again. I miscarried at 10 weeks. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 9 2013
Jennifer Gilmore’s new novel, The Mothers–about a couple’s journey through adoption–is out today! Check it out here.
The call from my sister came in the afternoon. I remember the day: bright robin’s egg blue, early spring.
“What’s wrong?” I said. She and I emailed and texted 30 times a day, but unannounced phone calls indicated alarm.
“I’m just going to tell you. I’m going to be as honest as possible. I’m pregnant,” she said. “It’s early, so I’m not telling anyone else.”
“You’re kidding!” I had been begging my sister to try to have a child–she was already 35–so that she and her husband would not go through any of the heartache my husband and I had endured in our six years of trying to have a baby. By then we were in the grueling and chaotic process of domestic adoption.
“No,” she said.
“Wow. That’s great news,” I said. “I’m glad you let me know.” I wanted to be thrilled for my sister, but instead I felt what was becoming a common emotion: that I had failed. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 18 2013
This past week I celebrated my third wedding anniversary. Since I was sick and confined to bed, I had time to think about these last few years, how I got to where I am today, and how unlikely a journey it has been…
Remember when you were little and you dreamed your life would be a fairy tale? I forgot about those dreams until a few years ago. It was Memorial Day weekend in 2009 and after a dry spell with dating, I was on a roll. Great date on Friday night! Great date on Saturday night! Little did I know that Sunday night would change my life forever. Read the rest of this entry →
May 25 2012
Hasta la vista, Texas.
My husband asked me the other day if our lives would ever be sane. I reminded him of a promise I made when we married: marriage would never make our lives boring. What an understatement! Not all of our adventures have been fun, but you could never accuse our married life of being dull or uneventful.
We are about to embark on our fourth move in three years and our second across the country. Things in Texas never jelled. It never felt like home and our attempt to move closer to family ended horribly. So we circled our wagons and are heading back East. A wonderful house rental fell into our laps, and for the first time since we moved out of our parents’ houses we will have a backyard! Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 24 2012
I think that we women support each other in so many ways by sharing our experiences, yet we have done a disservice by not talking honestly about fertility treatments.
I know that I’m not a worst-case scenario. I already have a child. The extent of my problem is that I’m over 40 and I don’t have a lot of time. My tubes are clear, my egg reserve looks good, I ovulate regularly, and my hormone levels are peachy. Plus, my husband’s sperm count is equivalent to 10 non-vegan men (my doctor described his semen as “dynamite”, leaving me to deal with my husband’s hugely inflated ego for days). And yet, we have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year and a half to no avail (five chemical pregnancies and one miscarriage). Read the rest of this entry →