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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book Tour #10: Embryo Culture

Ok, we are back with another episode of the Barren Bitches Book Tour. This month, we read by Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl. This is another book about infertility. The book chronicled Beth's journey through the ups and downs of ART in order to have her beautiful family.

I found this books to be funny, in your face honest, and informational all at the same time. She wrote about so many things that I've been scared to even THINK about, and it definitely helped me to feel like I'm not crazy in the things I have thought going through the journey that lead to me to parenting, as well as the current journey of being a parent.

So, on to the questions that I choose to answer.

The author describes her journey through infertility both in terms of a faith journey and a process of scientific discovery. How has infertility impacted your faith journey and your views of science/technology?
Well, faith is not something I am strong in. I would not consider myself an atheist, more an agnostic. I was raised Roman Catholic, and went through everything from baptism to communion, getting married in a catholic church and having my twins baptized. I am not a practicing Catholic. I am a scientific person by nature. I need to know how things work. I want to touch and feel real things. So the idea of believing in God to me is no different than believing in Santa Claus. Ya know, this guy who can see you all the time, and watches over you all the time. So you better be good, or nothing good with come to you. Please don't be offended. I have no problem with other peoples beliefs, and hell, I could be wrong. But that being said, I know that according to the Catholic Church and the Docum Vitae, any medical act that replaces the marital act of conceiving is considering morally wrong and a sin.

So my question is, who is sinning in God's eyes? Me, because I chose to under IVF? What about my babies? Are they just screwed from the get go? I just can't imagine giving my faith, love, or time (or money for that matter) to a establishment that thinks my babies should not exist. So, in doing research on infertility, I did realize that the church I grew up as a member of is a joke, in my opinion.

So if there is a God, I choose to believe that this entity would not smite my children for the way they came into this world. He would not banish the entire population of this world that ISN'T Catholic to hell. It's just not something I choose to believe. It's seems crazy to me.

As far as science and technology goes, I am thankful for them both, every single day when I wake up and look at my amazingly beautiful children.

The author also talks about how many embryos should be transferred at any given cycle. Should there be a limit?
Ugh. This is a very hard question. I feel like there are so many factors that come into place. Age of the woman, age of the eggs, which are not always the same, how many attempts, quality of the embryos. It's crazy to me to say that flat across the board 1 embryo transferred for under 35 etc. I also thinks it is unfair of limits on embryos when the couple is paying out of pocket. I will be honest and say that I was HOPING for twins. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have minded a singleton, but hey, it's you are going to reach, reach for the stars! We had to pay out of pocket, and the thought of finding that money to do this again would have just been so hard. I think that when the insurance companies will cover unlimited attempts, then can mandate how many can be transferred. But when I am paying out of my own pocket, please don't tell me what I can do. I can say ok if they said because of your age your can't transfer 4. But I would never have stood for just transferring one. Because I wanted better odds. Whether it works that way or not, I don't care. I am happy we did two.

The author mentions that going through infertility and IVF made her think differently with abortion? Has this changed anyone's position on abortion or did IVF change the way you thought about it?
Not really. I have always been pro-choice, and I still am. I think that going through this made me even more pro-choice in a way. I believe that NO ONE has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. If we take the right away from woman who want to terminate a pregnancy, how long before the government decides its morally wrong to create a pregnancy in a lab, and decides that IVF should be illegal. If you want the freedom, you need to have it on both sides. I had the overwhelming desire to be a parent, and I'm glad my dream was fulfilled. But I don't think anyone should be FORCED to have a child or be a parent. It has to be the woman's right to choose.

Beth Kohl discusses her fears about how IVF may lead to increased health problems for her children, and she thinks about this in the context of her daughter's surgeries for cysts on her bladder. Do you ever worry that IVF or other ART could compromise the health of your children created through the process? How has that affected your decision to pursue treatment?
Of course. How could you not? I remember during the stimulation phase, thinking, "how could all these drugs NOT fuck up these kids?" but I persevered. I guess knowing many people that went through it and all the healthy and wonderful children they had had helped. But of course I worried, still do. But babies that are conceived "normally" can have problems too, and it was a risk I was willing to take, to have my own children.

Throughout the book, Beth references different ways of how religion plays into her thoughts and some people's beliefs on infertility. I, for one, did not think of religion and God too much as far as my decisions of how far to take ART but I know people understandable do. However, as I do believe in God though not very religious, I often thought my infertility was a punishment handed to me by the higher powers. Even though the issue is MFIF, I felt as though I was the one being punished because of some things I had done in my earlier years. Beth talks of the possibly of this punishment in the last paragraph on page 49: "Or is He a puritanical smiter, my infertility a pox upon me . . ." My question is: have you thought in terms of your infertility as a punishment, some divine destiny that you should maybe not try to change, or not? And why or why not? And how did/does it affect your decisions? As I would probably not give specifics, I am not meaning for you to, but I felt much comfort knowing I was not the only one who questioned if it was a punishment and am curious as to how other people have related religion and punishment to their IF journey.
Again, more on the religious issue. And how could I have been raised Roman Catholic and not end up with a whole lot of guilt? It's the basis of almost any religion. Of course I looked back on my life and said "What did I do to deserve this? Was it the time I shoplifted in 7th grade? What about when I stole $20 from a friend? Maybe it's the pre-marital sex? Or the living in sin thing? Hell, with all this sinning, did I even deserve to be a mother??" Yeah, it's easy to look back over the years of your life and pinpoint all the many things you have done wrong. But I guess it all comes back to what kind of God you believe in. I don't really believe in one. But if there is one, I don't think he is that kind of guy. Because if he is, we would all fall pretty far under his expectations. There are many wonderful wonderful people that have horrible things happen to them, and horrible people that seem to live a cakewalk of a life. I don't think God is handing out babies to the "deserved". So although I still have what I call "leftover Catholic guilt" I do my best to shake it off and realize that I am NOT paying for some bad decisions I made earlier in life.

Final thought, I enjoyed this book a lot. There are so many things I want to add, but my fingers are tired, and so are my eyes. So I gotta wrap this up.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes (with author participation!)


Jendeis said...

Just wanted to write and say that I enjoyed reading your comments on the book. I so enjoyed the book, I found myself laughing out loud at some points.

loribeth said...

Thanks for your post. I hadn't considered the whole question of limits from the perspective of "who pays?" And I totally agree with your thoughts on religion. Great stuff!

Helen said...

Your comments were excellent. I know I should be way more interesting in the comments than simply saying that, but honest - they were good!

The Town Criers said...

I think that's the same place I came from--there's a risk with a natural pregnancy and there's a risk with ART, there's a risk with a singleton and a risk with multiples. And at the end of the day, you just hold your breath and dive in and hope for the best.

I'm glad you ended up with the best :-)

Ellen K. said...

Good points. I'm another woman (former Catholic) who considers infertility to have made her more pro-choice.

Deb said...

Thank you for sharing your well thought out answers!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your comments! I am Catholic myself (still practicing). In our IF journey we gone through IUI's, after much prayer, searching etc. for 5 months. I know the church does not consider it right, but I also have questions like, why is this desire in my heart so strong? After praying for God to either take away this desire, or show me the way forward to having children, I felt very strongly that we were directed into tx. I'm at peace with the decision.

A priest that I spoke to about this made it clear that no "blame" whatever attaches to the children. They are innocent etc. as all other children in the eyes of the church - after all, no baby has any decision-making power in how they are conceived! Since you're agnostic I don't know if that matters, but I thought I'd share anyway.


Ms. Infertile said...

I completely agree with your thoughts on religion and also on choosing not to believe that your God would not accept your children.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts

Pamela Jeanne said...

I just read your comments on Lori beth's blog and I wanted to say thank you. Thanks you for admitting that IVF and ART area nothing more than crap shoots. As one who went through the full gamut of ART procedures, I was among those who walked away with empty arms. That's the story that's yet to be told...

seattlegal said...

I think a lot of couples choose to transfer 2 or more embryos simply because the thought of trying to find the funds to go through it all again is too much. We were in a shared risk program, but we still had to pay for the drugs and the thought of doing it again just scared me so we went ahead and transferred two per the clinic's recommendation. And thus, we ended up with twins.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the book!

Gemini Girl said...

we should def have a twin get together!