By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
On July 25th, 1978, Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube” baby was born in England. I was eleven years old and had been infertile for three years, since the removal of my second ovary, and, I had thought then, the chance of ever experiencing pregnancy had been taken harshly from me. My doctor had shaken his head upon discovering that a second cyst had encapsulated a second ovary in 18 months. “I’ve never heard of anything like this happening to a child,” he had told my parents, and that admission, coming from a doctor, had left me feeling I if I were the only person to ever experience the isolation and loss and betrayal one’s own body can bring them.
But with the birth of Louise Brown, I realized that there was someone else – Lesley Brown – Louise’s mother, who knew exactly how I felt. She had tried for years to become pregnant, only to be thwarted by blocked fallopian tubes and failure. She agreed to IVF – at that time a purely experimental procedure that had never resulted in a baby, and made history. She was my very own personal Neil Armstrong. Four years later, she had a second daughter, Natalie, who was IVF baby number forty for the planet. Leslie Brown taught me something else when I was only eleven years old and trying to come to terms what it would mean for me never to have a biological child – that choices remain no matter what the situation. At eight I had bravely announced, “So what? I’ll just adopt then,” when my parents explained to me that the second ovary had not been saved, but truthfully, even then, I longed for the babies that would someday be mine. (My mother nicknamed me “Mother Earth” when I was only three.) They would have my blue eyes, and my cute nose and my freckles and have really good singing voices and there would be ten of them.
“Oh my little Mother Earth,” My Mom would laugh, “ten is too many.”
Her voice had a different tone on July 25th, 1978, that monumental day, one that was hoarse with emotion and longing for me to have everything I wished for as a woman. She held me close and promised me that I would grow up to have the choice to be pregnant someday, if that was what I desired, because if in England they could fetch an egg through a blocked fallopian tube and whip up a zygote in a Petri dish, science would evolve, and it would be done with a donor egg. On February 3rd, 1984, eight years to the month that I lost my second ovary, the 1st IVF donor egg baby was born. Choices grew.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at http://www.abandofwives.ning.com/
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