So all I can do is the best that I can do.
Though I had no idea before I submitted my partial manuscript to her, she was the agent who sold the best book on being adopted: Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by Brodzinsky (adoptive father) Schechter (married to an adoptee) and Martanz Henig (good writer who put it all together). Meanwhile, let's get to Sunday's (11/30/08) New York Times Magazine piece: Her Body, My Baby. Adventures of a rich girl who tried to have babies at age 34 and up and after eleven attempts with IVF and four failed pregnancies, she gave up and for $25,000 hired a womb from a nice 43-year-old woman in Pennsylvania who needed the money to help put her kids through college...
In the end I didn't actually hate the writer (Alex Kuczynski) and mom-with-the-perfect-body (though many if not most of the hundreds of people who commented on the New York Times website did). Eleven IVF cycles is a hell of a lot, and from what I've read, they are not pleasant, the miscarriages must have been devastating, and so I have some sympathy for this woman. How can you not?Almost Baked
Cathy Hilling at home in Harleysville, Pa.
Gillian Laub for The New York Times
To the Editor:
While the writer of Her Body, My Baby (November 30), Alex Kuczynski, notes that infertility affects 7.3 million people in the United States, this is an erroneous figure, for it equates infertility among older women as abnormal, as if they all had the flu. There is no difference today between fertility rates of the past and today--what is different is the age at which women and men try to conceive. According to the Mayo Clinic, a woman's fertility peaks between the ages of 20 and 24, begins slowly declining until the early 30s, after which fertility declines quite rapidly. At age 30 to 35, fertility is 15 to 20 percent below maximum. From age 35 to 39, the decrease is 25 to 50 percent. From 40 to 45, the decrease is 50 to 95 percent. The writer of the piece did not try to conceive until she was, at best, 34. Savvy marketing of fertility services often makes no mention of these facts, and many men and women today are lulled into believing that technology can easily help them get pregnant when they are ready.
However, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, age affects the success rates of infertility treatments as well as your natural ability to get pregnant. According to a 2003 booklet put out by the organization, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance per month to get pregnant. By age 40, however, her chance is only about 5 percent per month. In many cases, these percentages are true for natural conception as well as conception assisted reproductive technology.
Although Ms. Kuczynski, best known for her exhaustive research into numerous anti-aging treatments and surgeries, treats the realtionship with the surrogate mother candidly, pieces such as this one further encourage the wait-too-long mentality and then, the somewhat yukky trade in rent-a-womb. Lorraine Dusky
Let me know what you think about surrogate mothers--I really am interested how this plays with adoptees and other birth mothers. As the piece in the Times makes clear, its a lot less complicated emotionally (quel surprise!) when the egg isn't the surrogate's. But it still makes me queasy. I have less trouble with a relative having the baby since there is usually no exchange of filthy lucre. I saw one case where a mother did it for her daughter.
Gotta go--having my annual visit to the gynecologist in an hour. Delightful. I'm sure I put on a couple of pounds since the last weigh-in. Too much whipped cream on my pie.
PS: Yes, Kippa, Mairaine is right about which mothers were actually visiting with their children, and who was in touch only through communication at a distance, i.e., phone call, email, a written note. (See previous post and comments.) Although my daughter Jane periodically cut off communication for some reason or another, we basically had a relationship for a quarter of a century. At the end, it was close and great, but I couldn't save her from her demons. Next week it will be a year since she committed suicide, and though it's on my mind, I'm certainly not marking the day in any way special. That would just exacerbate what is already a river of grief.