Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Surrogate

The cover story of this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine is titled, "Her Body, My Baby-My Adventure with a Surrogate Mom," and it's written by Alex Kuczynski. The problem with the article is neatly captured in that word "adventure." Because adventure and surrogacy have nothing to do with each other. It's like "Let's put a smirk on heartache." Heartache doesn't want a smirk. Then there are the photos. Shame on the Times for the photos. And for all the people in them for posing for them. But these things don't matter to me an awful lot. I mean, they kind of do, but then again, not really, because when I finished reading the article last night I found myself right back in that stew of feeling that I lived in for the last year and a half of my own three and a half year trip through the infertility jungle. It was during those 18 months, after my first IVF when I got pregnant only to miscarry at nine weeks, that I fell into the trap that Kuczynski (whom I've known of since college because she went to my college and she cut a figure in the dining hall) describes fairly poignantly, even if I'm not so sure she herself would say this. (But we each read our own version of everything anyway.) The infertility trap is that you want to get pregnant so badly that you kind of forget that the point is to have a baby. This is an incredibly mean trick and I'm not sure it sets in with everyone who struggles to have a biological child. But my guess is if the problem persists for years, then watch out, because it can creep in and creep in hard and do all kinds of things to your decision making and how you think about yourself and life and what it means to be a mom.

Now I'm at the point where what I'm writing has fairly little to do with what Kuczynski wrote and I fear that without my writing a lot more about myself not much will make sense. It's not that I don't want to write about myself and my infertility, it's just that the story isn't exactly unusual or trenchant. (If you like there's this short essay that I wrote here.) So to get back to the Times article I will say I wish the article had been less glib. I wish I didn't know how rich the author is. I wish I didn't have the snarky thought, "What the hell? She made a tuna sandwich for her surrogate?!" (Tuna is high in mercury and discouraged during pregnancy.) But mostly, I read the article and just felt sad. Very, very sad in a way I hadn't felt since those endless days of yearning. I'm relieved they're gone.

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