Sunday, May 5, 2013

Third Party

I recently read the post by Kelly Wendel on PVED in which she defends her choice of creating a family using third party conception. In her post, she cites different authors who argue against third party reproduction and ART in general, and I have read none of these. Truth is, I don't have that kind of time to waste right now. I have a 2-month-old to raise. But reading the post made me think about the hoopla related to third party conception, mainly the crap being issued by the religious right. There are, I believe, interesting and legitimate issues to be pondered with third party conception. Issues that I have pondered hard and long on this road. The potential for abuse is high in a situation where money is paid for human organs/tissue, and Mr. A and I had much to resolve internally before we were able to do DE in the US. When we started down this road, we didn't think we would go ahead and pay for gametes. But life experiences bring you to different decisions. As a general rule, I don't believe women are being exploited in donating their eggs, but I think some women potentially are. I don't think the industry as a whole is exploitative, but I think it has the potential to be.  I obviously had to be ok with our clinic and the way we believed they treated donors; but ultimately, I had to trust that they were well treated without knowing for sure.

Anyway.

In the time I've not been blogging and not been commenting in the last week (sorry, lovelies, I've been going for long walks with my girl and spending less time on the computer), I've been thinking about this idea of third party conception and what it means to me these days.

At this point, third party conception has become symbolic of something I am working on in my life: accepting help. Not just begrudgingly, or shamefully, or because I am so broken and dying and won't make it without help. No. Just accepting help because I need help.

Like everyone on this green planet, I need help sometimes. Because of my particular psychology, this is a challenge. I should be able to handle it all on my own. I was an enormous burden for my mother as a child, and so burdening others is something I fear like the plague. I will bend myself into all kinds of non-Augusta shapes to avoid burdening others, lest they start thinking I'm annoying and abandon me. Asking for help is part of that pattern.

In this quest to have a child, I've had no choice but to ask for A LOT OF help. I've had to ask for eggs. Twice. Once from a friend and once from a stranger. And most importantly, I've needed to receive their gift. With my whole grateful being, my job has been to just receive. Fuck, that's hard.

I haven't told you much of the story around the birth and the postpartum circus. I think I will, but it's a bit epic and I need to keep digesting it before I lay it all out here. But I'll say here that Mr. A and I needed a lot of help during that time, and we received more than we could have ever asked for. Two women friends of ours gave us breast milk so that we could feed Gummy in the early days when I was trying to breastfeed but wasn't producing milk. Three different sets of friends took Gummy in overnight when I was in hospital. One of our friends breastfed Gummy on an overnight, because she had lots of milk to give to her daughter and to mine. Another friend who is a midwife came to spend the day with me at the hospital after the postpartum hemorrhage so that she could help me sort out what had happened and what could happen as a result (ie try to avoid a hysterectomy if possible). Meals were delivered twice a week for 5-6 weeks after the birth so that we didn't have to cook.

So when I think of third party conception and people getting their panties in a knot about how wrong this might be in the eyes of their chosen deity, I feel like yawning in their face. That stuff is so esoteric to me. How about we look at what love and altruism really mean on this earth at this time. For me, there is something divine about the gifts I have received, from the egg donor, and from all the people who have supported us as we struggled to have a child.

15 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post.
    I still struggle to accept help, or perhaps more, to accept that I need help. In part this may have to do with some I'm-a-woman-in-a-male-dominated-field-I-have-to-look-strong complex. I'm working on it.
    My mom was sick with terminal cancer for about two years. Sometimes she was doing ok, sometimes she was very sick. She had 3 friends that took care of her, went with her to chemo, probably brought over food when she was too weak to cook, etc. I'm so incredibly grateful for this support she received. I don't think she actually asked for it, it was the sort of thing that happens organically among friends (as I'm sure was the case for much of the help you and Mr. A got). I don't think there is any way in which we could ever "pay them back", and maybe the hard part with asking for help for me is that I feel like I should be able to return the support, something, anything, and I can't. As you say, just accepting that gift is hard, and my mom was probably much more graceful at it than I am.

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    1. Yes, there is another challenge: letting it just feel inequitable, where you feel you owe something back but the other person doesn't feel at all that way. I know. It's so hard.
      Thanks for sharing the story about your mom. What a hard time that must have been for all of you.

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  2. Well said!
    I haven't read that post (and likely will not), but I do know that we put a lot of thought and prayers and soul searching into the decision to use DE. Obviously we are thrilled with the outcome and have been beyond blessed with our little girl.
    Accepting that we need help is SO damn hard. Then actually accepting that help is another level of hard. This is something I have had to work on for a long time - and will likely continue to need to work on as each new situation arises. It never seems to get easier!

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    1. Thanks E. I'm thinking of you so much these days, dear woman.

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  3. I hate not being able to do things for myself, and your post made me feel all kinds of vulnerable. Oh what a wonderful thing to feel that you've fallen from the trapeze and find this network of people there to support you. I wish I were close enough to have contributed. :)

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    1. You contributed so much from where you were in the last 3 years or so.

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  4. I also find it very hard to accept help - especially the kind that can never really be returned in the same measure. Part of it is the vulnerable feeling of being needy and part of it is what I guess is a natural human desire (you, the psych person, would know better than me) to maintain a certain level of equity in relationships.

    In any event, I think your daughter is a beautiful testimony to the help you've received.

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  5. "Just accepting help because I need help."

    I love this. It is so hard to humble ourselves enough to receive the gift of help. As a former egg donor, I have felt blessed by providing help to eight families. As a current recipient of donor sperm, I feel blessed to receive this help from someone else.

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    1. what an amazing perspective you have on third party conception, dspence. I keep thinking I may, you know, donate blood more often than I do in order to sort of give something back to the universal pool of exchanged bodily tissues. But for you, the donation and the gift are in the same category. Thank you for donating eggs. THANK YOU!

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  6. Of course I cried reading this, because there's so much courage in your story. The courage to try to have a child, the courage to try DE, the courage to try it AGAIN... the courage to place your newborn in the arms of someone else, to go into that hospital not knowing what would happen. It's been so absurdly HARD, and it just makes me so so grateful that now you can take long walks instead of doing these other amazing things. And yeah, all that matters a great deal more to me than any rhetoric.

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    1. I live to make you cry, Bunny. You know it.

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