Everything you ever wanted to know about in vitro fertilization.
IVF is not easy. It’s not fun. And oh my, the invasion of privacy! But the desire to bear a child is unbelievably powerful, as first-time author Kohl testifies in this high-pitched, very personal narrative. She and her husband, like other infertile couples, devoted vast amounts of energy to scoping out fertility clinics by gut reaction, word of mouth and advertised success rates. No regulatory agencies set rules for this process. Because of federal prohibitions against embryo research, fertility clinics in America are private enterprises whose “research” consists mostly of learning by doing. After a woman has been hormonally primed to generate multiple ova ripe for removal and fertilization by her partner’s or a donor’s semen, the eggs are incubated. After a few days, those that look healthiest are inserted into the woman’s uterus, where it is hoped one or more will implant and develop to term. Since there is no way to predict which will implant, IVF often leads to multiple births. In Kohl’s case, her first baby was a single, and she subsequently bore twin girls. All are healthy, but the author rightly notes that multiple births pose risks to both mothers and offspring. She goes on to discuss ethical and religious attitudes towards IVF, egg and sperm donors and surrogates. She also addresses the particularly thorny subject of frozen embryos, already the source of bitter courtroom battles involving knotty legal issues. Good liberal and believer in stem-cell research that she is, the author confesses she’s not so sure she wants to give up her frozen spare embryos; after her experiences with IVF, she can’t help but see them as all-too-real potential sibs for her girls.
No answers here, but lots of provocative questions amid sobs, sighs and odes to joy.