Sometimes I need a filter between my brain and my mouth.
This is not the way to get one.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Great Gender Debate

I know this is a debate that has raged for eons - about as long as breast Vs bottle.

But I was watching a show last night titled '8 Boys and Wanting a Girl'. Anyone with Austar/Foxtel will know I've watched it a day late...god love recording live TV abilities!

I was surprised to find that there are some women who feel so totally incomplete by not having a certain gender. For these women, it was having a girl that consumed their every waking moment. And while I can understand the idea that you might go "oh, okay - we have a boy/girl, it would be nice to have a pigeon pair" I don't understand going off the deep end and just about tearing yourself and your family apart over it.

Anyway, I have to say - I was intrigued by the idea that these families were so desperate for a girl that they would go to any lengths. And oh, boy did they ever!

Some tried natural gender swaying using the Shettles method of changing diet, sex at certain times only and even douching with vinegar and something else as boy sperm don't favour acidic conditions, and girl sperm do.

Others went through a process known as PGD - Preimplantation Genatic Diagnosis. Makes it sound like gender is a disease to be found and cured. And I suppose, in a way, for these women having male embryos is something to be found and not so much cured as avoided.

It covered women in the UK and America, and followed them through their mission to have a baby girl.

It broke my heart when I watched one Mum at her ultrasound discover that baby number 5 was, in fact, another boy. You could see the disappointment and pain literally spill out of her. But it also made me feel sad for her that she has a wonderful family and 4, almost 5 perfectly healthy children in her life, and it's not enough.

Especially when there are people out there who would give their right hand for ONE child of either gender and be content forever.

I was bothered by the nurse's comments of 'Well, we'll print off a couple of pictures, you'll get to know your baby and then you'll eventually love him just the same'.

Ummmm - since when did gender disappointment equate to not loving your children? She fully admitted she would have a 'hole' in her for the rest of her life for not having a girl, and while she and her husband had discussed adoption, part of the dream is to have her husband's baby girl, so adoption wouldn't actually be a solution, as such.

But she also went on to say that she loved her children unconditionally, and that boys or girls she didn't love them any less. This Mum followed the Shettles method to no avail - they don't have the money for PGD. And in the UK it's illegal to do PGD, it's too far down the designer baby path to be acceptable for conservative Britain.

Which leads me to Mum #2 - UK based and after 4 boys went down the PGD path. She travelled to Spain to find a clinic that would take her on. After a failed attempt she fell pregnant with twin girls and her dream was complete.

At that point when her twins were about 2 she decided it was time to marry the father of her children.

She made the rule that until he gave her a daughter, they would never be married. Um, if you can't love your partner for giving you a healthy family regardless of the gender, then maybe you need to re-assess yourself.

All I can say is thank god this bloke was made of money. At $10k a pop, it's not a cheap option. Who knows, maybe money can buy happiness if all it takes is a petri dish and a female embryo.

Mum 3 is an American - and in America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and Location of the Free-for-All, PGD is available anywhere and everywhere, providing you have the money.

The process is the same as IVF up to the point that when your embryo's are eight cells in size, one cell is taken from each and identified as male or female.

What happens to the male embryo's is anyone's guess. I'd like to think maybe they get donated to couples who want a child and can't do it themselves for one reason or another. But I think we all know that's most likely not the case.

This was the third and final attempt for Mum #3 at PGD. Again, 4 boys and so desperate for a girl she'd do anything. But it was obviously taking it's toll on her marriage and her children - she had become so negative about not being able to have a girl, everything else had become worthless for her.

And that's when I started to wonder, when is enough, enough? Where do you draw the line between wanting something so bad you would spend $30k or give up a kidney on attempt after attempt to pick the right gender and recognising that your money and your kidney might not be the only things you lose in your quest for 'completion'.

Is going to hell and back for a specific gender child worth losing the family you do have? And how would that impact on your children - do they start to feel that they are simply not wanted? That they are just 'wrong' because their Mum wanted the opposite? How the hell do you grow up feeling valued and accepted for who you are when you know that your parents did everything possible to have exactly what you're not?

Are these parents unlucky, or just ungrateful?

This is a situation with many answers and many sides to the story - and this is just a small sample. Gender disappointment isn't new, and lots of women suffer it and partners do too if they have their heart set on one gender over another.

I don't know if they are ungrateful - maybe a little jaded by their situation. And at the end of the day we are all human and have hopes and dreams for the future.

I just don't know that it's worth sacrificing the happiness of the present.

1 comment :

  1. Well from a mother who was only ever having two boys, who now has three girls, I would not go down that path. It's not that I didn't want girls, I just always thought I'd have boys. When I was desperate for a third baby, we got all the usual comments about trying for the boy. It was so far removed from that. I just wanted another baby to love. I think life gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want. I love being a mum to three girls and I would never try for the boy (well short of doing it the old fashioned way *wink*). But If we were to have another baby it would be to enjoy having another healthy happy person in our world regardless of gender.

    I guess I dabbled to the point of charting due to seeing a naturopath who asked me to chart my cycles so I'm not totally leaving it up to nature but still ...

    I also have to wonder if these women have ever experienced loss through pregnancy or been close to someone who can't have a baby at all and whether this might change their thinking?

    Wow! Didn't realise how passionate I was about this but where does it end? You want a smarter baby, one with curly hair instead of straight, one with super model legs? I'm with conservative Britain on this one.

    And the money being spent surely could be put towards giving an orphaned baby a better life?

    What is that saying? You don't have to be give birth to be a mother.



Thanks for the comment - it helps validate the fact that I'm not just talking to myself.

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