Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Response to the Author

Rachel,

I am writing in response to your article posted yesterday on MSN.com, "Designing the $100,000 baby." On the tails of this, it is important to note that October 19-25, 2008 marks The National Infertility Awareness Week during which those who are affected will disseminate valuable information to their communities about infertility. This includes dispelling myths and sensationalized portrayals of the very treatments those who suffer from infertility must endure in order to bring a child home. In reading your recent article, I believe that you have done a huge disservice to this effort and to the infertility community as a whole. In fact, speaking as someone who suffers from infertility, I would go so far as to say that your effort at journalism on this piece was completely irresponsible.

Firstly, your portrayal of infertility treatments is incredibly limited, representing a minuscule percentage of cases. Given that we have so few spokespeople who have the visibility to make a real impact, this is the information the public is given. It is sensationalized, painting a picture of the misuse of medicine for the purposes of greediness and vanity. You fail to even mention the very real heartbreak that people who face years of loss and disappointment because of infertility must endure. In case you were unable to research it in its entirety, I can assure you that 99.999% of us did not choose this path. We were forced into it. Whether or not our child has blue eyes or goes to Yale is completely irrelevant. The real question is whether or not there will even be a child and if so, will he/she survive? IVF and PGD, the procedures you portrayed as very slippery ethical slopes, are the miracles of modern medicine that grant us this ability to answer that question. And in failing to paint a full portrait of infertility by not including any of its real cast members, you have just made this unwanted path that much rockier for all of us.

I am disappointed. Your article also managed to make light of one of the biggest life crises a person can face: living with infertility, the stress of which has been proven in research to equal that of patients with cancer. In likening donor egg selection to ‘online dating’, you have ignored the reality that by the time they reach that point, the woman making the selection has likely been through immense disappointment, including financial and emotional loss, and has recently had the door for a biological child slammed shut in her face. I’d hardly compare that with a perusal through match.com.

Infertility is not just a crisis in adding to one’s family, but it is also a daily social struggle. We are met with hurtful comments time and time again, the product of information such as that seen within your article. This needs to stop. This is the purpose of National Infertility Awareness Week, making your article strangely well timed. I invite you to read about the real stories behind infertility and moreover, I invite you to write about them. One of six couples in the U.S. experience some form of infertility, so that coverage of this epidemic would speak to millions rather than the small, elite group you chose to represent. I look forward to seeing more realistic portrayals of what we go through in the years to come and I'm hoping you can join us in this effort. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Disgruntled in SF
(actually, I put my real name, in case you're wondering!)

PS. This lady is actually a contributing author to Conceive magazine!

17 comments:

Busted said...

AWESOME! DH told me to write a letter but I am just burned out right now at trying to right things in the world of IF, especially having written letters before with no response. Thanks for saying what I would have said, only much better!!

Nikki said...

Spot on! I'm also going to write to her.

Your note brought tears to my eyes! You've done a splendid job of putting emotion to words - now let's hope the author has the brains and EQ to understand!

Great job!

Tara said...

YOU GO GIRL!!! I wrote her an email and said this (mine is not nearly as poetic as yours):

Hi Rachel –
I read your article on MSN yesterday called “Designing the $100,000 Baby.” As a person who is currently struggling with infertility, I am extremely offended by the tone of this article. The PGD testing that is currently available is not so parents can create a child who has blue eyes, blonde hair, olive skin and will be grow up to be the high school Homecoming Queen. PGD technology is used to improve the likelihood of a successful pregnancy for couples who have experienced recurrent miscarriage or those who are at risk for passing on inherited genetic diseases to their children.

The struggles infertile couples face are hardly akin to enjoying time spent at a “luxury shopping mall of futuristic baby making.”

My husband and I have been struggling for 22 months to conceive a child who will survive pregnancy. You cannot possibly understand the devastation a couple endures to learn that the child they have longed for and struggled so hard to create will not survive to take a breath of air. I encourage you to research the less glamorous face of infertility and publish this article on October 15, 2008 – which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

MamaSoon said...

Wow. Fantastic letter. You have a way with words!

Another Dreamer said...

Awesome letter, KUDOS!!!

And how the heck did she get a job at Concieve?

Darya said...

I managed to miss this article until I saw your letter, which is excellent BTW.

I am soooo angry right now!!! I cannot believe how ignorant the author is. I will be writing a letter to the dim witt as well.

Lorraine said...

Perfect even tone and lots of facts to back up your position - A+, Shelby!

Thanks for doing this - I have been thinking about this all day and trying to gear up for letter-writing of my own. Do you think "Yeah, what Shelby said!" might do the trick?

Trace said...

GREAT JOB!

Michelle said...

Awesome letter!

Sarang said...

Thank you for writing what so many of us are feeling. Well done.

For the flip side of the MSN article, check out responsible reporting in "Voices of Infertility" from The New York Times:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/voices-of-infertility/

I found this article on Resolve's website (www.resolve.org) which can help you find support groups in your area. It's been a big support and outlet for me.

RMCarter said...

Hi, I just found your blog and wanted to thank you for writing this. It was beautiful and perfectly written.

Thanks for sharing your struggle. I, too, have been suffering with infertility (for five years now). I just recently discovered that there is an entire community of people like me.

On a lighter note, I also found my soul mate in high school (1996). We were married in 2000. :)

I look forward to reading your blog often.

Michelle
www.inpursuitofparenthood.com

Just Me. said...

WOOT-TO-THE-HOO, GIRLFRIEND!

Awesome! Love it love it love it.

Martha said...

You Go, Girl! Excellent Letter and I'm so proud to be reader of your wonderful blog. You have to wonder if this author lives under a rock with the statistics of one in six couples dealing with IF. IF is not only extraordinarily stressful like cancer, but also a serious medical diagnosis like Cancer, and deserves that recognition and respect. Thank you for your articulate demand for it.

Hope2morrow said...

YOU GO, GIRL!

luna said...

excellent response. can't believe she contributes to conceive. or maybe I can. they probably have no trouble ttc over there...

Another Dreamer said...

I'm curious... did you ever hear back from them?

momofonefornow said...

over from iclw.

Wooohooo! Very well written. Lay the smack down!