Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Okay, this is an absolutely amazing story

First womb-transplant baby born
A woman in Sweden has given birth to a baby boy using a transplanted womb, in a medical first, doctors report.

The 36-year-old mother, who was born without a uterus, received a donated womb from a friend in her 60s.

The British medical journal The Lancet says the baby was born prematurely in September weighing 1.8kg (3.9lb). The father said his son was "amazing".
Do you sense a 'but' coming?

I did have the whole biological clock ticking thing briefly in my 30s, then a sense of relief that I didn't choose to have a child (although I'm not out of the woods yet, as I probably have a few more years of fertility left). But overall I don't understand this absolute impetus to deliver a biological child yourself, and the things people put themselves through to achieve it, often at great risk to both child and mother, as well as heartbreak. I know adoption can sometimes be a very slippery process, and surrogacy opens up many legal questions. But even IVF can be dangerous. I knew someone who was desperate for a child of her own. She went into congestive heart failure when they went to harvest her eggs for the in-vitro. She got pregnant for about a day and then it failed, then dramatically went on about her 'miscarriage'. She became pregnant unexpectedly and naturally a few months later. After the birth of her child, she became wrapped up with him and dropped people like me without children who had been there for her through the ups and down of infertility and endometriosis, and then eventually divorced her husband, for what I am sure were various reasons, but I couldn't help but wonder if he hadn't just served his purpose, since her eventual need for a hysterectomy meant she'd won her battle against the clock and frankly didn't need him anymore. I know that sounds callous. I know she went through a lot emotionally and physically. In the end, she got her child, but after years of hormone therapy got reproductive cancer which I cannot believe was unrelated. The whole thing could have killed her several times over. I just can't believe the whole thing was healthy at all, either physically or emotionally.

In the case above, the child was born prematurely after complications. We can do so much with science these days, push the envelope. I guess the question is, should we? When do we weigh everything and just say, you know, I love children, but I will find other ways to have children in my life? Or, there are so many children in the world who need loving homes, I will do that. Now I'm not saying that everyone who tries fertility treatment is obsessed with having a child to the point of being unstable. That's not what I'm saying at all. Sometimes the body just needs a nudge here and there, after all. And I'm not saying we should deny the chances of someone born without a womb to have the experience of being a biological mother (I almost wrote natural, but I can't really use that word in this case). I am saying we should really weigh the risks--not just the scientists and doctors involved, but those potential parents. Weigh the options. Decide on the best course of action for your situation, and the best situation for the child. Each of us have to deal with the outcomes of that decision. What if I try something terribly cutting edge and there are complications, and the child has a birth defect? Am I prepared for that? What if we go through the whole thing, and the mother's life is endangered? That sort of thing. And absolutely, the good of the child should be paramount--not of the parent. If it's all because of some desire to be a parent, rather than the child itself, it's not healthy and shouldn't be encouraged.

I guess we all have our lines we draw in the sand that we won't cross. Mine was having a child at all. I am simply not financially able to, for one. I have genetic disorders I would not want to pass on to a biological child, especially diabetes, and my health issues would not help the situation, but I'm not particularly temperamentally suited for being a mom, so adoption is also out even if there was money for it. I like kids in the theoretical sense, but I do not establish easy rapports with them. I wouldn't want to be a helicopter mom and steal all their independence, but I'd be a nervous wreck thinking of all that go wrong. I know this. So even though back in the day I seriously considered dating men who were wrong for me and contacting sperm banks, I chucked it all, came to my senses (with some help), and learned that's it okay to be a woman without a child, it's not that you're somehow unfulfilled, and really, I'm glad I made that choice. I know for others having a child is not just a biological need, but a societal and psychological need. Sometimes that's fine. Sometimes, that's unhealthy. Personally I think all people wanting to be parents (either naturally or not) should be screened. We test for drivers' licences. We conduct home visits to place pets. It's really rather a shame that there's no check and balance to keep unfit people from reproducing and raising children, as Big Brother and pro-eugenic as that may sound. But there's an awful lot of neglect and abuse out there that might be prevented at the same time, and lives and psyches could be saved by it. I'm just saying....

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