Recent news of Elton John’s surrogate baby, Nicole Kidman’s “gestational carrier”, and Kelly Preston’s introduction of her new baby seems to have the media and bloggers alike all a-flutter about the current state of fertility options and infertility treatments.
What I’d really like to say to everyone is “leave them alone!” But, clearly that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
I fear that all of the scrutiny and judgment and crazy theories about these celebrities will only serve to make fertility treatments even more secretive. After all, what celebrity wants to deal with the blogging and tabloid world spreading rumors and gossip about the genetics of your child, why you used a surrogate, or anything else about the blessing that is a child coming into their family?
Yes, I realize that some people want celebrities to come clean about how their children were conceived. And yes, it may serve to normalize the use of surrogates and egg donors – much like it is now “no big deal” for someone to use donor sperm. But I don’t think anyone should be forced out of the fertility “closet” so to speak.
Of course, the danger is that young women will see these mothers in their mid to late 40s having children, and they might think that they too can wait that long. And while it is possible in your 40s to get pregnant naturally or through IVF with your own eggs, it is much, much harder and the risks of issues due to egg quality are certainly higher. But really, is it the celebrities job to educate the public? Why aren’t the OB/GYNs or fertility clinics talking to their patients and doing PSAs to let women know how dramatically fertility declines after your 20s and early 30s?
And on the subject of using surrogates – the phrase “gestational carrier” is not de-humanizing the surrogate. It is part of the accepted language to describe a particular type of surrogacy. It can be used interchangably with “gestational surrogate” and describes a surrogate who has no genetic link to the child, she is simply carrying the child for the parents. Clearly, we have a long way to go in the fertility world when it comes to educating the public about the proper language to use related to fertility. And by the way, a gestational surrogate is not the child’s mother; nor is an egg donor any kind of “mother” (genetic or otherwise) to the child that comes from her donation; nor is a sperm donor a “father”.
While any pregnancy of a woman in her 40s generally has people wondering….donor eggs? I always try to remind people that lots of babies are born these days from frozen embryos created several (or many) years ago. And as egg freezing technology becomes better, it too will offer options for women to prolong their fertility.
Really, what does it matter if someone uses an egg donor or not? It is about as important as it is for the world to know what sex.ual position someone was in when their child was conceived. File it under “none of your darn business”.