The NY Times magazine from July 15th is still sitting on my coffee table, open to Peggy’s article about donor egg parenting issues.  Not because anybody around here is still reading it, just because we have some housekeeping issues.  But there’s a big quote, a “callout” I think they’re called, sitting in the middle of one page:

Our attempt at using donor eggs failed, but I always wondered what it would have been like.  Would my husband have felt awkward about pointing out similarities between our child and himself? What if the child someday turned to me and said, “You’re not my real mother?” What if I secretly agreed?

Reasonable questions.  Peggy is a good and thoughtful writer and a feminist or post-feminist or whatever you might call a person who thinks about women’s changing roles and experience and how complicated it all can get.

But I take issue with the phrase “I always wondered…”  Really?  When you found out you were spontaneously pregnant, without having to put your feet in the stirrups (unless that’s what you’re into), for free, et cetera, and for once you didn’t miscarry, were you thinking back to the ancient history of your failed donor egg procedure?   When the baby came, and you and your husband sat around wondering if she looked more like you or like him – was it then that you thought, and “always wondered,” about the social ramifications of donor gametes?  Maybe at your joyful baby shower you took a moment to consider what it “would have been like” had your personal infertility story not reached its happy ending.

I doubt it.

I read “Waiting for Daisy,” and a lot of my fellow infertiles liked it.  I didn’t hate it but I didn’t enjoy it.  Because Peggy has the post-infertile perspective, in my opinion, which seems to boil down to: “Well, I couldn’t have a baby and I tried all this craaaazy stuff!  Boy was I desperate!  Then I got pregnant and had a baby.”  The end.  “Waiting for Daisy” is all about the very uncomfortable mix of Peggy’s ambivalence – does she really even want a baby – and her desperation.

I wish the NYT could have had somebody write about donor egg who 1) needed it and 2) did it.  Everybody else is on the outside. Peggy’s relief that she didn’t have to go any further is palpable.  We know it well: the relief of the fertile friend who congratulates us on all we go through.  The relief of the married friends who say “I just throw up at the thought of dating again,” in the presence of the newly divorced.  (Nice!)  That kind of relief.

Because donor egg is not something you do unless you have to.  And I am not in the mood to read any more articles or books or blogs by people saying “boy, I sure am glad I didn’t have to do donor egg – but here’s what I think about it.”  That’s like the people who say how horrible a movie is – so horrible in fact that they wouldn’t go see it.  Not that Peggy is saying DE is horrible, or that she even disapproves; but she has the luxury to keep it at arms’ length, when many do not.

I’m also tired of The Infertility Story, which is that somebody wants a baby, does a bunch of stuff to try & have one, ends up pregnant “naturally,” and The End.  The implication, the “metastory,” is that we infertiles are hysterical and impatient and if we – wait for it – just relaxed, it would “just happen.”  All that Crazy Stuff, IVFs, adoption attempts, etc., just didn’t work because It Wasn’t Meant To Be.

Nobody tells the other Infertility Story, where somebody didn’t end up with a baby at all, and the hurt never went away.  Or that the failed IVFs cost so much – physically, emotionally, maritally – that being childless seemed like a relief, instead of a failure.  It’s not zippy NY Times magazine reading.  It’s the portrait Norman Rockwell forgot to paint.

And that bugs me.

Advertisements