Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recent reading

The weekend newspapers had the usual plethora of tributes to Mom... but also a few articles that trod slightly off the beaten path.

Front page news (at least in Toronto): the first-ever successful in-utero repair of a baby's hypoplastic left heart done in Canada. When dh & I were attending support group as clients, both one of of the facilitators and one of the other couples in the group had lost baby boys to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It's described as a "rare congenital heart defect," but we have since met quite a few other couples who have lost babies to HLHS. I am glad that more of these babies may have a better chance at a longer & healthier life with this new procedure.

The Toronto Star had an article, but I especially liked the story in The Globe & Mail, which started off with a description of how the pregnant mother was afraid to take the clothes she'd bought out of the shopping bag for fear she'd have to return them. It summed up what so many women feel when going through a high-risk pregnancy, or pregnancy after infertility or loss. Caution: there is the usual quota of idiotic comments on the Globe article.

I haven't been able to find much coverage about the Mother's Day Pram Push at Queen's Park, but there was an article in the Toronto Star on Saturday referencing the event, featuring a young couple who held bake sales and other fundraisers to do IVF. She's now expecting twins in July.

The article debates whether people have the "right" to be parents. I'm reminded of my Grade 10 American history teacher, who pointed out to us that the Declaration of Independence only speaks of the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Note the qualifier: "the PURSUIT of happiness" -- not the right to BE happy. (The British North America Act of 1867, which formed Canada's first constitution, on the other hand, speaks much less excitingly of "peace, order and good government." Which just about summarizes the differences between our two countries in a nutshell, lol.)

I'm not sure any of us have the "right" to be parents -- it makes parenthood sound like it's ours for the asking, & some of us know it's not that simple. But we should certainly have the right to be treated for a medical condition, which is what infertility is.

I like what the sidebar to the article points out:
Some people already have the right to be parents – those able to have children without medical help.

Medical ethicist Udo Schuklenk of Queen's University says a couple's right or fitness to be parents tends to only be raised for those such as infertile or gay couples who can't bear children on their own.

No one, he says, tells a couple that is capable of bearing children that they have no right to do so.

Another Saturday article in The Globe & Mail points out that many couples are postponing plans for parenthood because of the current economy. Infertility is given a mention.

I loved this New York Times Room for Debate blog entry about celebrity adoptions and the real world. A few choice quotes from the experts who contributed:

"Westerners have been sold the idea that “millions” of healthy infants and toddlers in underdeveloped and war-torn countries are waiting to be rescued from poverty, abandonment and abuse. It’s not so." -- E.J. Graff

"The adoption myth is that the world is full of orphans who need families; celebrity adoptions remind us that the world is really full of poor families who need assistance." -- David Smolin

"Why should anyone be judged about their motivation to create a family whether through adoption or the old-fashioned way — who cares? If you are a responsible parent, then it shouldn’t matter why you want to have a child… Everyone should stop whining and judging and instead help provide better lives for orphaned children. That doesn’t mean you have to adopt, let’s be innovative and creative in finding ways to end the dreadful inequities in the lives of women and children around the world." -- Jane Aronson

And finally, today's Globe and Mail poses the question "Are pregnant women smug?" The article refers to a satirical YouTube musical video that gave me a few chuckles. What do you think?


  1. I saw the You Tube video a couple of weeks ago (through a Salon.com mention) and thought it was hilarious and, yes, accurate. Love those cheeky 20-somethings!

  2. Thanks for the roundup. Loved the 'smug' article. I've met Andrea O'Reilly (who's quoted in it) and have used her research.

  3. I think there is some truth in this. It is especially hard that people who "can" have children but often are unfit have no oversight, but those of us seeking children have so much.

    Not that i want the gov't involved in anything more in our lives.

    And, it is true that there are a lot of orphans in the world, but most are over the age of 5, many over the age of 10, when finding a family is very difficult. What is more, many of these children have been raised in homes that are inappropriate or abusive for their early years when a loving family could have adopted them & made a huge difference in their lives. Instead they are removed at an older age when they have already been harmed & are more difficult to find homes for.

    I haven't an answer for this. The only solution would probably be something horrible like gov't oversight into every home. That is something i DO NOT want. I'm just saying that life isn't fair, the system sucks, & i don't see a solution.

    Sorry for the rant. I didn't mean to do that! Thank you for sharing this info & coverage. :)

  4. I share Kathryn's concerns. One thing that might help is a change in the focus of child welfare work from keeping biofamilies together at all cost (with kids bearing all the costs in lost development and love opportunities). With a more reasonable approach that isn't punitive but isn't so damn obsessed with putting kids back into terrible family situation, maybe we could do better for children in need of stable, happy, supportive forever homes.

    On a different note, I laughed MAO at the YouTube clip because yes, those gals are really onto something. And the funny thing is, it just doesn't feel that way for me. Like every other step in this bizarre process. I don't think I've uncovered some deeper, more connected approach to life that has radically changed my vision of the world. I've just stayed anxious and lost my waist and realized I have no idea what I'm doing.

    I think IF worked me over fairly well and this online community awakened a whole realm of compassion in me that has spread to other parts of my life unrelated to family building.

    Does that sound smug? :)

  5. You have the best article tracking of anyone I know. Thanks for taking the time to pass along the links.

    The youtube video had me rolling on the floor. Where were these girls when I REALLY needed them?

  6. I heard about that video in my support group meeting last night and just watched it - hilarious! Like Shinejil, I'm pretty sure I'm not too smug - at least I hope not! If I ever utter the words "life was so meaningless before becoming pregnant/having a child" I hope someone steps up and slaps me really, really hard.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the two supplements IAAC is putting in the Globe - I think one this Friday and one next Friday - for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week.

  7. LOL ... thanks for the laughs. I needed that today!

  8. I saw that clip a few weeks ago. I read the article just now. I do think many pg women are smug. And I don't think they have any reason to be. They have a right to be delighted. Hopeful. Planning. And many things. But to act like they have made some kind of achievement or that they deserve special consideration? Hell no. I don't care if your child was conceived from one night of unprotected spontaneous sex in the backseat of a car or via IVF - you do not deserve a gold star because your uterus is full. You got lucky. Period. Therefore, there is no need for smuggness. JMHO.