Babies, the great divider. Most people have an opinion on children. Love ’em, hate ’em, we’re-still-them… and now we live in a world where you can have a three-parent baby! Yes, take a moment, it blows the mind.
I’m all for science, I love science. I love inventions and discoveries and jiggy tech. I’m open-minded. But the whole three-parent thing has given me cause to pause.
Proponents say it’s a medical breakthrough that allows families to end maternally inherited health issues that have existed in their maternal lines forever; critics call it an effort to make “designer babies” free of any health issues.
I think it’s great we found a way to eliminate maternal mitochondrial disease. This video from the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority of the UK Department of Health explains how it works. But it’s still genetic modification, and it makes me a little queasy. We’ve found a way to tinker a little more, but I don’t think we have answered the big questions around this discovery yet.
Diane Polnow will have to update her book, Baby Debate: Everything You Need to Consider Before Becoming a Parent to take this latest feat of modern science into account. She wrote the book
…to help people focus on everything they need to know BEFORE they become a parent and the first to focus on whether or not you should even have a child. This no-frills, tell-it-like-it-is book will guide you through every aspect of becoming a parent: financial, mental, emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual. A must read for anyone thinking about having children!
I wish I had read it, or some of these candid letters compiled by Lizzie Pook for Stylist Magazine from women detailing their views on motherhood (click here to read the letters) before I climbed aboard the motherhood train.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my child. She’s awesome. She’s perfect for me. She was born old. Actually, she was born very traumatically and severely oxygen-deprived, so we spent the first years of her life on intimate terms with doctors, consultants, physios, and A&E on Friday nights. Through all those hideous moments, she was calm, stoic, resilient…she survived, and then some. My husband & I poured our lives into keeping her life as normal as we could, and all discussions of a sibling were tabled.
We operated under the vague assumption that if we had one, we’d have more. Eventually. When we were sure she was better-than-OK, when we went 6 months without going to the hospital, when we went a year without going to hospital. We brought the idea back to the table when she was 5. She showed normal cognitive & physical function. She wasn’t struggling at school. But then WE needed recovery time, both emotionally & physically. I couldn’t countenance another C-section; the first one was a hack job and left me feeling violated and in pain for years after. I talked, I cried, I meditated. My friends had all gone on to have their second, and even third, children. Didn’t I want another one?
The simple answer is No. The long answer is I love my daughter & I love my life as it is. I love the person she’s made me. But I feel like the ‘parent’ element of my personality is just right, and another child would change the balance. My baby girl asked me the other day if the discussion was off the table as ‘my eggs were probably ageing a bit’? I laughed and had to admit that it probably was. She’s disappointed because she’s the kind of child that LOVES people. She loves her cousins, her friends, their siblings. She’d make a great big sister. I feel sad that we haven’t been able to meet this want for her, but not enough to procreate. (I reserve the right to change my mind, obviously, because I’ve just got my hands on more baby pictures of my husband and darn it if I don’t want a little boy that looks just like he did as a baby!)
Whatever the answer for each of us, I am grateful for the freedom I have to make these choices, to debate the idea, and deeply feel for those who are forced into motherhood too young, against their will, or because their religion or society dictates.