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Jennifer Chen, AChildAfter40 Group Organizer, NYC, New York

By Jennifer Chen, AChildAfter40.com Group Organizer, NYC, New York

IVF (in vitro fertilization) is fast becoming the common sense option for women who cannot get pregnant after 40 naturally.

It is now so common that there are at least 10 fertility clinics where I live in Manhattan, including the most famous at the universities of Columbia and Cornell.  Yet, even in the modern era of reproductive tolerance, and especially in NYC where diversity reigns, there are still people ready to stand up and criticize the use of reproductive technologies as “unnatural”.


Demonizing the first “test-tube baby” in 1978

Louise Joy Brown born, 1978

Anyone who was old enough to understand the story behind the media frenzy will remember the birth of Louise Joy Brown in Great Britain, in 1978. She was earmarked as the world’s first “test-tube baby”. (http://www NULL.pbs NULL.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/babies-worlds-first/)

In a later TV-show interview Brown, who had grown up (http://www NULL.theguardian NULL.com/society/2013/apr/11/test-tube-baby-louise-brown-robert-edwards), recalled that many people had criticized her family for using reproductive technology to get pregnant, and railed at her: “Demon, go back to hell!”


After 30 years, have we found cultural tolerance for ART?

It’s been more than three decades since Louise Joy Brown—who ended up giving birth twice (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/news/article-2371716/Worlds-test-tube-baby-Louise-Brown-pregnant-second-child NULL.html) after conceiving naturally—was first demonized as Frankenstein’s baby from hell.

Since then, how far have we moved on in our cultural acceptance of modern reproductive science? Have we left the era of religious intolerance behind? I’m afraid not.

Recently, I visited a friend in Long Island who had given birth via IVF to a baby girl. She’d needed two bags of blood for a transfusion after losing so much during the birth. But the baby girl turned out perfectly, and brought great joy to her family.

Despite this, my friend reported her child was criticized for being an “IVF baby”.  I was taken aback. “Surely not in this era, and in NYC of all places?”


Antisperm antibodies meant pregnancy was unlikely

Where was the sin in modern reproductive science coming to her rescue? Her story should inspire only compassion.

After being married for 5 whole years without conceiving, she and her husband visited a fertility clinic and learned that he had “antisperm antibodies” (http://haveababy NULL.com/fertility-information/ivf-authority/antisperm-antibodies-their-effect-on-fertility-role-in-ivf-outcome/). It meant that natural pregnancy was going to be highly unlikely.

They had started with IUI, which failed twice. Then, they tried IVF.

Apparently, the lab technician observed: “the egg is on one side, and all the sperm are on another side! Not even one wants to swim to the egg.”

The clinic then began a new approach, using IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) (http://www NULL.asrm NULL.org/topics/detail NULL.aspx?id=1276), where each egg was directly injected with sperm, eradicating the effects of its antibodies.


Where was the sin in science coming to the rescue?

She’d had 19 eggs extracted during that process, but only 4 fertilized. Three implanted and failed, and only one remained frozen. Then, they implanted the last frozen embryo, and her daughter was conceived.

The whole process took more than and a year, during which she stayed home, choosing not to work.

Where was the fault in this “IVF baby” that modern science had helped to create and welcome into a happy family that might otherwise have been childless?

She may not be the “test tube baby from hell”.

But down deep, I suspect that some people still think that being an “IVF baby” is “unnatural” and somehow less perfect than children conceived the old fashioned way.


Notes for this blog:

Jennifer Chen gave birth to her child after the age of 40 and is now a Group Organizer for the AChildAfter40.com social groups for moms and moms-to-be over 40  in NYC, New York. For more info on Jennifer’s group, please go to our Social Groups page.  (For groups outside of the USA, or how to start your own group, click here.) Jennifer is currently a column writer for World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper in North America.

For more info on IVF (in vitro fertilization) from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (http://www NULL.asrm NULL.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/ART NULL.pdf), click here: http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/ART.pdf (http://www NULL.asrm NULL.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/ART NULL.pdf)

Columbia Fertility Center: http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu/dept/obgyn/services/infertility/

Cornell Fertility Center: http://www.ivf.org/



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