Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome to a complicated world, baby!

Some of my friends just welcomed a third child into their family! I perused their photos online and still haven't heard the whole story (which apparently involved some intense medical interventions), but what I am struck by is the love that is so evident in those photos. The twin "babies" I used to change and comfort and cajole when I babysat for them are now caring for their teensy sister, smoothing down her wispy hair and dangling colorful toys in front of her still-blurry eyes. They've only known her for three days, but already they are glowing with pride and an obvious desire to protect their new sibling. According to my friend's note, she and her husband can hardly hold the baby at all--her big sister and brother want to cuddle with her all the time!

I have to say, I feel somewhat ashamed thinking about this family's story. Here's why: in high school, I edited the school newspaper and I once wrote an op-ed piece railing against fertility treatments (this was back in '98, when the fertility-treatment induced surge of twins, triplets and even sextuplets in my community was big news). I loudly advocated adoption over IVF without giving much thought to the pro-IVF view and the feelings of the couples who are desperate for a biological child. One of my teachers at the time pulled me aside and said she hoped I'd never have to be in the position to need fertility assistance, but that maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge. I remember feeling embarrassed, but I did not change my views.

Since then, several of my former teachers have shared with me their conception struggles and their experiences with IVF treatments and the fabulous children they were able to conceive through the process. (Strangely, several of them have gotten pregnant again without IVF some four or more years down the line! I'm not sure what the takeaway lesson here is--maybe that you get pregnant when you stop trying?) In any case, all of them felt that the fertility treatments were a moral choice and worth the stress and financial investment. However, I still struggle with my complicated feelings about IVF in a world of children desperate to be adopted into a loving family.

What I do know from the photos of my friends' kids is that that new baby is receiving love love love from her brother and sister, and that her parents are prepared to do their very best for her because they've had practice with the twins. She wouldn't be getting those kisses and winks and silly faces if her brother and sister hadn't been conceived through fertility treatments. And her parents wouldn't be the capable, confident people they are--smiling and shining in the pictures--if they hadn't gone through what they did in order to get pregnant the first time. I would give my right leg to have even one child as brilliant and kind and joyful as the twins are, and as I know their little sister is bound to be.

But would I have fertility treatments? I really, really hope my husband and I don't have to make that choice someday...

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