105 weeks and 3 days | Dolce, Gabanna and ‘synthetic’ IVF babies

It’s not often — on my blog — that I comment on something that has happened outside of my own little world.

My blog is personal. It’s written with love and passion ; mostly about my three boys, sometimes about things I’ve done or things that interest me.  Generally speaking, I don’t want outside events to be spoken about here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really interested in current affairs;  I watch the news, I have an opinion — and am not frightened to voice it — but there’s a time and a place for that and my little blog is not it.

There are occasional exceptions though.

I once wrote a response to an article I’d read by a TV doctor. She had said that motherhood at 40 was basically a nightmare. Given the fact my experiences were poles apart from hers — and I felt deeply unhappy that if any pregnant 40 year old was reading her article they’d have been scared witless — I wanted to redress the balance. Writing a response on my blog felt like the right thing to do. Plus it got any anger I felt out of my system and I felt immeasurably better afterwards.

And this week has presented another exception to the rule.

The fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana labelling children borne through IVF ‘synthetic’.

Dolce, Gabanna and 'synthetic' IVF babies

To say I’m outraged is an understatement.

I can’t quite put into words how I feel about it,  to be honest.

I’ve just sat, at my computer, typing different words and none of them quite express exactly how I feel about such a comment.

For countless people — couples (gay and straight), single women, single men, entire families — the innovation that is IVF is a miraculous lifeline. Literally.

An incredible feat of science that has enabled endless people to experience the joy of parenthood.

Myself included.

And whilst an IVF baby is created in a lab — rather than a bedroom — nothing about the biological process is ‘synthetic’. Whilst the embryologists can harvest a woman’s eggs and fertilise one in a dish (where many sperm are placed near the egg) or even by using ICSI (where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg)  try as they might, the scientists cannot guarantee a live birth at the end of a round of assisted conception.

The one magical step — the biological miracle of a fertilised egg successfully implanting into the mother’s womb  — simply cannot be guaranteed or orchestrated by humans.

The long and extraordinary process of an embryo growing — and evolving — within a woman’s body, until it is ‘viable’ and able to live outside the womb, cannot be assured by any fertility expert.

These processes are 100% natural. No amount of current technology or scientific intervention can make it happen.

I know this.

A myriad of people who have experienced failed IVF cycles — who’ve pinned everything on it working and are devastated when it doesn’t — know this.

Incredible that two misinformed, narrow minded,  people — who are sadly notorious and have a public, worldwide platform with which to air their views — could openly comment on an issue that is so sensitive and so personal for so many people.

IVF is not something you embark on lightly. It is incredibly invasive. It hurts. Emotionally and physically.

And if you’re lucky enough for it to work – for those incredible, miraculous processes — that cannot be dictated by any human — to work their magic, you will be given the gift of life.

The gift of parenthood.

The gift of a child.

And nothing about that is ‘synthetic’.

 

Dolce, Gabanna and 'synthetic' IVF babies

Dolce, Gabanna and 'synthetic' IVF babies

80 weeks | To a 40 something new mum…

I read an article the day before yesterday.

It was one of those sponsored link things on Facebook — ‘you might find this interesting’, kind of thing — and I did find it interesting. And immensely irritating.

It was a piece by Dr Pixie McKenna, for The Telegraph; the title being

I had my first baby at 40. Would I do it again? Don’t ask…‘.

Hmm.

In the first para it states that ‘older mums have it hardest of all’. What??

It goes on to say that ‘older’ mums can find it harder to adjust; it changes the dynamic of your life and ‘it’s only when the bump becomes a baby that the hard slog begins’.

I found this article infuriating.

None of the points raised really had anything to do with age.

Surely every woman — regardless of age — finds the arrival of their first born a massive culture shock? Nobody’s born with an inherent ability to morph into an Earth Mother as soon as they’ve popped out a baby! Motherhood is a steep learning curve — admittedly some women take to it like ducks to water whilst some struggle — and ultimately it will change the dynamic of your ‘old’ life. These are not age related issues at all — they’re just standard issues faced by every new mother. Regardless of whether she’s 20 or 40.

I bloody hate these satirical articles. Especially when it comes to child-rearing. Often they’re written in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way but in this instance — although the piece was laced with black humour — it is pretty obvious that Dr McKenna didn’t enjoy her introduction to motherhood half as much as I did.

She says ‘Thinking you can jostle a baby, a job and still enjoy a social life is to be seriously misinformed.’

Pah. Speak for yourself Pixie. I run my own business; I had 6 weeks off when the twins were born but have been juggling motherhood and work ever since. Admittedly, I work from home, but I work — and work very hard — nonetheless.

And as for still enjoying a social life…?

The arrival of The Twinkles hasn’t impeded our social life one iota. We — and all our friends — have an incredibly hectic, colourful social life and, to be honest, having the babies has only added to this. Granted, you have to plan in advance a little more and impromptu get togethers just need a little creative thought to make them viable — especially when baby sitters are few and far between — but it is possible.

She goes on to say…

‘You evolve from being the ‘girl about town’ to the ‘girl in the dressing gown’. Even the midwife sometimes looks at you a condescendingly, presumably thinking you’re a ‘selfish career woman’ who put the big lights and late nights first – before considering a family.’

Really? These thoughts may have been going on in your head but not in mine.

A neighbour came round shortly after the Twinkles were born and was incredulous that I’d got make-up on.

‘Jeesh’ — she said — ‘I didn’t manage to get out of my dressing gown for the first 6 months, let alone bother with any slap…’

She was in her early 30’s when she had her baby so, again, this isn’t an age thing. It’s a state of mind.

Personally, I don’t feel human some days unless I have a bit of lippy on plus when the babies arrived I wanted to do anything to make things feel vaguely ‘normal’. Putting a bit of make-up on and getting dressed each morning was incredibly empowering. I could face whatever life threw at me because I was feeling prepared. Plus, I associate staying in my nightclothes all day with being ill. No wonder people feel out of sorts if they choose to loll around in their PJs when their new additions first arrive.

And I never — for a second — felt as though the midwife was ‘looking at me condescendingly’. If anything, the opposite. She said on a couple of occasions that she was in awe of how I was handing everything. And I’m not blowing my own trumpet but I had two babies to deal with Dr McKenna, not just the one.

The article goes on and on… some of the points made me smile but most I couldn’t relate to at all.

I have LOVED my experiences of motherhood. My lovely boy is one of the reasons why I have had an easier ride than some; when you have a partner who takes the lion’s share of the early shifts, it’s easier to start the day in a good frame of mind.

But why shouldn’t he? He is their father, after all, and the childcare should be shared. Where does it say that it’s the sole responsibility of the mother to do the night shift/early feeds?? If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, fair enough, but we weren’t.

I guess everyone’s experiences are slightly different.

It’s not often I feel like writing a response to something I’ve read but the points in this article really resonated with me. And not in a good way.

I felt that it was really negative — and ‘ageist’ — and for any pregnant forty-something woman reading it, she would have been scared witless about what’s to come.

To a 40 something new mum from me…

Well, to that woman, I say ‘don’t worry’.

Some things about being a new mum are going to be incredibly hard — and tiring — but others will be so much easier than you anticipated. Just take each day as it comes. Put the baby down for a nap in the morning, go and have a shower then put some lippy on. AND GET DRESSED. You’ll feel so much better for it :)

None of the points in that article are anything to do with being an ‘old mum’, they are everything to do with being a ‘new mum’.

Regardless of your age.

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