Monday, 10 January 2011

bending this way and that

It comes as no surprise to me that some couples want to use in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) to choose the sex of the next child they have. (See here for example).
Once upon a time when people wanted to choose the sex of a child they kept on having children until they got what they particularly wanted, or alternatively out of exhaustion they gave up because "enough is enough!" this is obviously an unsatisfactory way to proceed any way.
Most people were happy to arrive at the conclusion "we'll take what we are given". In our consumerist world we almost find such an accommodating attitude to be offensive...we should be able to have what we want! It does seem to me that establishing right from the very start, indeed from pre-conception, that we do not want a choice we actually want what we want does not seem to me to be necessarily the best frame of mind to be bringing to childbearing.
I had a little experience of this. Having two daughters, we were constantly assailed in the third pregnancy (as we had been in the second) with "I suppose you'll be wanting a boy".
I eventually tired of this and then people started saying when I wasn't complying with their pedestrian ways of thought, "I suppose as long as they are healthy".
I tired of this too and snapped angrily to at least one person "Well what are we going to do, send them back?"
I did become mindful after that exchange that some things are best left unsaid, but it did give us pause for thought about what would happen if our child was sick. My grandmother lost a son at 14 and I myself had been comatose for a week at about 10 or 11 and my sister never fails to remind me of my mother's grim words "We thought we were going to lose him!"
As it turned out I survived!
And having been an only son for many years I became 'the child they nearly lost' and so they treaded warily around me (my sister more often reminds me of this).
All this was brought to our wonderings about what we do if baby number three was sickly!
And she was! For only 48 hours (PTL), but I stood by her cot listening to her agonised breathing in case that breath should be her last.
Yes, we had a third girl. Yes, she was not 100% well. But it seemed to me she was just as important as the other two, and has proved to be so.
So I am a bit tentative about being too planned about all this. My experience is that we would have missed the life of a wonderful human being if we had engineered a boy.
But maybe, and even probably, my experience is of little or no account to other families who have their own agonies.

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