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Her Body, My Baby

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NY Times writer Alex Kuczynski's candid article "Her Body, My Baby" about her choice to have her baby via surrogate may change your mind about the practice.

After over five years of in vitro treatments and multiple miscarriages, the 39-year-old fashion writer decided to spend $25,000 to have and embryo made from her egg and her husband's sperm carried in another woman. She shares the good, the bad and the ugly ...

cathy hilling pregnant alex kuczynski with her chi
Almost Baked: Cathy Hilling at home in Harleysville, Pa., about a week before giving birth to the author's baby. Every Day is Mother's Day: The author, her son, Max Dudley Stevenson, and her baby nurse, Margo Clements, at home in Southampton, N.Y., in July.

After suffering a miscarriage, she had to get a D and C (a dilation and curettage, the same procedure used in an abortion): The nurse called two days after the procedure. "In case you were interested, it was a girl," she said. In case I was interested. I was not, in fact, interested in attaching a gender to the coagulation of cells, briefly and potentially human, that had been scraped out of my uterus. I was not interested in attaching the grief to a more identifiable entity. The thought that I had produced a girl burrowed into my brain for weeks. A girl. Brain, I begged, please let me forget.

The cost: The typical cost for gestational surrogacy, she told us, would be anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000, all costs included -- except for the retrieval and fertilization of my eggs and the transfer of the embryo or embryos into our gestational carrier. (Gestational surrogate means it's not the surrogate's egg that is used.) That would run us about $10,000 using our private doctor.

Surrogates are not poor: Lawyers and surrogacy advocates will tell you that they don't accept poor women as surrogates for a number of reasons ... Poor women are less likely to be in stable relationships, in good health and of appropriate weight. Surrogates are often required to have their own health insurance, which usually means the surrogate or her spouse is employed in the kind of secure job that provides such a benefit.

Her desire to have a biological baby: The compulsion to create our own bloodline seemed medieval, and I knew we could enjoy our marriage -- our lives -- without a child. Yet I couldn't argue myself out of my desire. A child with our genes would be a part of us. My husband's face would be mirrored in our child's face, proof that our love not only existed, but could be recreated beyond us. Die without having created a life, and die two deaths: the death of yourself, and the death of the immense opportunity that is a child.

On feeling contentment for her surrogate mother: When Cathy and I went for doctor's visits, she gave me the clearest sonogram picture to take home. I would drive back to New York, scan the image and send it out to family members and close friends -- except that I would crop Cathy's and the clinic's names out of the frame."

On being happy she wasn't the pregnant one: "I was in a daze of anticipation, but I was also secretly, curiously, perpetually relieved, unburdened from the sheer physicality of pregnancy. If I could have carried a child to term, I would have. But I carried my 10 lb. dog in a BabyBjörn-like harness on hikes, and after an hour my back ached.

Her son Maxime Dudley was born in late April.

Tell the truth -- would you use a surrogate if you couldn't carry a baby? Comment in the momlogic community.


next: The Twelve Days of Christmas Would Cost $86,609
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
MICHELLE December 2, 2008, 2:26 AM

I’VE BEEN A SURROGATE TWICE.
BABY #1 = 19 MTHS
BABY #2 = 2 1/2 MTHS
I BELIEVE IN HELPING OTHERS. I HAVE BEEN IN THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS FOR OVER 14 YEARS. I HAVE TWO BOYS 8 & 11. I COULDN’T EVEN IMAGINE NOT BEING ABLE TO HAVE A BABY. THE COUPLES I CHOSE TO HELP ARE GAY MEN IN LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS(NOW MARRIED/CALIFORNIA)I’M CONNECTED TO THESE FAMILIES IN SUCH A SPECIAL WAY. I GAVE BIRTH TO “THEIR” BABY!

IN BOTH SURROGACY’S
THEY CHOOSE AN EGG DONOR-
FERTILIZE THE EGG=EMBRYO,
THEN IMPLANTED INTO ME.
RESULTS=A HEALTHY BABY.
FINAL RESULT= “A FAMILY”

Barb December 2, 2008, 2:12 PM

What a lovely story.

Anonymous December 8, 2008, 10:58 AM

I loved being pregnant. Both times. My hubby doesn’t want anymore children and we are happy with two but I would love to have the chance to be a surrogate mother for someone who couldn’t concieve.

TheLawyerMom December 30, 2008, 10:37 PM

Lovely story? Lovely story!? You must not have read the full essay by Alex Kuczynski. But please do. Read all 8000 words of it at the New York Times site.

And understand, I’m not speaking to the merits of surrogacy. It’s Alex Kuczynski’s narcissism and contempt for women that sent me reeling. Her essay was absolutely appalling.


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