Eyes Wide Shut on Infertility Street

While having an afternoon beer at a neighborhood coffee shop I randomly picked up the July 2014 issue of Money magazine and read an article entitled “Waiting for Baby” which dramatically chronicles a 40-something couple’s long journey trying to get pregnant. Not reacting as I’m sure 99.8% of other readers did, I found myself shaking my head and chuckling with the occasional exasperated snort—was I the only person who saw this whole scene as the epitaph for the last 45 years of American society?

You see, Carrie Zampich was 36 years old when she got married to her husband Dan and they began trying to have a baby in 2009. No doubt as a child of the 1970s she was raised within the feminist paradigm that eschewed traditional young motherhood for a college degree and a career, along the way paying hefty income taxes and contributing money to a 401K each year.

But then as always happens the old biological clock chimed in with a little FYI: “Hey, these eggs won’t last forever.” And thus began a five-year, $82,000 journey into the world of infertility treatment which transformed a most natural part of the human experience into a grotesque series of in-vitro injections for her, a trip to a clinic in the Czech Republic to save a few bucks, jumping through hoops and prostrating before the health insurance altar, a first-trimester miscarriage, and even a small surgery to clear some sperm blockage for him. Wait, is this the script synopsis for “Prometheus 2”?

And at the end of it all, after first trying to unite his sperm with her egg, then donor sperm with her egg, we soon come to the final laughable-if-it-weren’t-so-heartbreaking-and-cruel act: merging his sperm with a donor egg to grow in Carrie’s body. She rationalizes this grim last stop by saying, “I get to carry the baby. That’s enough for me.” I’d call this form of self-surrogacy SIM-Pregnancy, a going through of the motions for the ego, for the photo album, for the “memories.”

18-year-old girls don’t have trouble getting pregnant. 24-year-old women don’t have much of a problem either. But in our society we’ve simply declared men and women as equal and interchangeable so I really don’t blame any cynical medical types who open a fertility clinic to cash in on a delusion against the ways of nature that has unnecessarily put millions of people through such an agonizing and at times dehumanizing process. They don’t allow lipstick manufacturers to test their products on monkeys or rats anymore, but it’s amazing in what name we’ll justify the indignities of being used as scientific test subjects ourselves.

Like this entire essay, it is beyond politically incorrect for me to suggest that maybe women should be trying to have children within the most fruitful window of opportunity for their bodies. Perhaps girls should at least be made aware of the biological facts before they enter college. Maybe men, once they’ve established themselves in their careers, should take a younger woman in prime fertility as his wife. Our species used to celebrate the magic and mystery of our sex differences, and we once embraced female power with wild fertility rites. I guess hormone injections and a stranger’s thawed sperm don’t inspire such zesty rituals.

I can only imagine how shaking mad these ideas make today’s feminists—prime beneficiaries of and the object of worship in their own cult—but defiance does not trump reality no matter how tight you close your eyes or how loudly you call a man like me ugly names.

Let’s imagine Carrie had graduated from college in 1995 and within a few years married a successful man 8 years her senior. At age 26 she gives birth to a healthy baby boy who boasts both parents’ DNA, then she stays home to care for the child. They pay less to the IRS because her work as a mother does not produce taxable income, they aren’t paying for a nanny…and they aren’t being ground through the infertility racket simply because they abided by a few of the rules that dictate our incarnation as humans on this planet.

But instead, “they’ve borrowed against Carrie’s 401(k) plan, maxed out their credit cards, taken donations from family and friends, and routinely worked side jobs for extra cash.” Cut to Carrie babysitting a friend’s kids, then pan camera to window as Dan passes by walking other people’s dogs around the neighborhood—just to pay off the bills for a laboratory baby that may never arrive. When can someone’s failure be seen as a warning and an opportunity to consider another way, as opposed to just this endless lament, this pathetic sob story devoid of context or implications?

Along the way the couple experienced some financial bad luck that was icing on the cake of this dark comedy of errors: “$275 to replace Dan’s windshield after a tree limb fell on his car; a $1,300 vet bill when their dog Minnie fell on a tree branch that went through her shoulder; and $450 when their other dog, Mylo, was bitten by a snake.” An ornery snake?! Who writes this shit? I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for these saps but I just snorted out my beer!

I honestly don’t care whose Pavlovian ire I provoke for uttering these “insensitive” but possibly insightful thoughts that may actually be close to the truth. I have had friends and relatives in similar boats and sympathize with their struggles, so I’m not just trying to be sensational or alienate people in my life. And yes, I know that not everyone’s life goes perfectly as planned or scripted, someone’s husband cheated and this and that. But for God’s sake, maybe our society is reaping the consequences of flawed ideas that have had several generations to play out—and now it’s high time for a reevaluation.

At the very least I implore men looking for potential spouses to date women whose age would suggest a high chance of natural conception. “Love conquers all” be damned, everyone has had enough high school heartbreaks and one-night-stands to sink the Titanic. And if women aren’t shamed for marrying a man because he’s successful, I too will not be called calculating and heartless for choosing my bride based on the criteria of what she can provide for me, namely offspring that don’t require the goddamned surgical team from the movie “Sleeper” loading up a turkey baster to create!

12 thoughts on “Eyes Wide Shut on Infertility Street

  1. Pingback: World News » The Price of Putting off Baby

    1. philw Post author

      I know that I present these challenging ideas in a somewhat brash manner, but the least you could do is try to submit an insightful rebuttal rather than call me a name. Just because you don’t like my ideas doesn’t inherently make them incorrect. Can you articulate why they are flawed?

  2. Jamie Martino

    Are you out of your mind? You are a heartless, callous person, and for this reason I will not bother to say much to you, because I certainly cannot breathe life into your veins. Do you care that these are REAL people with real feelings? Why on Earth do you need to make fun of them? Thank God it is not my job to take care of the likes of you–God is just, and I can only imagine the misery that you must attract. The real joke here is that you call yourself insightful!!!

    1. philw Post author

      I think that a “Great Wall of Feelings” has been put up in our society to block anyone from looking at issues below the surface or from an unapproved angle. Here I criticize a flawed idea which has terribly impacted the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans–namely, the long struggle or inability to get pregnant with old eggs–yet I am the one at fault simply for being insensitive to feelings. But what if presenting this harsh truth actually saves other people from setting themselves up for the more profound grief of infertility in the future?

      1. Jamie Martino

        I seriously doubt that your small readership will be “saved” from infertility. Women learn from sex ed class that we only have so many eggs, and that they age along with us. Your presentation of the facts simply will not appeal to any woman on this planet. If you truly care about “saving the world,” then try changing your approach and try to be appealing to at least SOMEONE.
        I am not even sure what your argument is. Are you saying that older men should find younger women, and that women should delay college until after marriage and procreation? Is there a reason that you cannot just mind your own business? You are entitled to your opinion about how you believe your life should be led, but why not let others make their own choices without input from you? Clearly your choice to say these things is only to incite anger and defensiveness in others. I find it hard to believe that you have ever gotten anything you want using tactics like these.

        1. philw Post author

          I guess my core sentiment is that the original Time/Money article presents the couple’s situation as representative of the struggle many people experience, yet at the same time there is no asking of deeper questions like, “How did we get here as a society that this is now so common? Have some of the 1970s feminist ideas, which seemed to make sense at the time, partially led us to this crisis?”

          I recommend two very different links now. First is the great philosophical book Ideas Have Consequences” by Richard M. Weaver, whose title really says it all. Next is the Mike Judge movie Idiocracy which is cruder than this blog will ever be but makes a similar point about the inexorable nature of biology .

          And having lived down in Los Angeles for many years where a Latino population boom has taken place while whites and blacks have stagnated, I tell you (my own “feelings” on the matter being irrelevant) that this will all work itself out to the tune of a white minority across the country.

  3. Jane

    I’m not really sure I understand your point of view. I read this and thought you were a misogynist as well- you place the entire blame on the woman and actually advocate men go out and find themselves younger child bearing women. You need to look around you and appreciate what is happening in our society. Women are successfully entering the workforce and putting off having children until they meet the right man (and vice versa). They are also doing the responsible thing and waiting until they are in a financial position to raise a child. I think this is a good thing and perhaps will result in less divorces and more 2 parent families. The down side is the decline in fertility that a woman experiences by waiting, but thank goodness modern medicine provides alternate options for families to realize their dreams. I don’t think you express your point of view clearly at all- are you against the medicine? Would you prefer things stay as they were in the 50s and 60s where men brought home the bacon and mama stayed in the home? Those days are gone for the majority of our society…modern medicine has caught up and provides options for these women and the insurance companies much catch up too. And by the way doctors DO tell women when their best child bearing years are BUT if they haven’t met the right person or aren’t in a financial position to care for a child than they are wise to prolong pregnancy! As a working mother of two I commend this couple for not giving up their dream of having a child, and can attest that I’m surrounded by other women who do have it all – it’s all about choices…in career (if that’s what they want), partner (which is all about timing) and children (either biologically in the optimal child bearing years or with help from fertility drs).

    1. philw Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I think we just have a completely different worldview. I question the use of feel-good catch phrases such as “working mother” as if that makes someone a saint or a harder worker than anyone else. I question whether women have been fulfilled by this notion of going out to have a career–what if it was simply a cynical ploy to generate more taxable income from the sheeple while also lowering the birthrate?

      Obviously I am not against medicine or dreaming of a 1950s redux. However, I do wonder how many medical minds would serve us better not trying to reinvent the cycle of life but instead maybe find that elusive cure for breast cancer, the scourge which has led to so many marathons and even made the NFL a pathetic pink joke for an entire month each season.

      At the end of the day, my blog is about questioning the deep-seated memes that run our society. I want readers to feel uncomfortable, not for its own sake but to help shake us all out of our stupor for a few minutes to consider deeper meanings and alternative possibilities. Pro choice options for the brain, perhaps?

  4. Geff Zamor

    You’re painting with a very wide brush and manic strokes but there’s enough sticking for me to agree that “nature’s law” should be cherished and celebrated and the post-feminism “you go get it girl,” business culture should be re-balanced with a gentle nod back to some traditional values like getting ready to have a child at a more opportune time at the expense of other things. I’m not vibing with a lot of what you say here but you’ll get no argument from me when you say, “if they can marry an older man for his money; I can marry a younger one for her eggs.” That kind of tough talk could change a few minds and keep money out of the infertility industries already stuffed pockets.

  5. alan

    Of course, these negative comments from the women are not coming from 18-24 year olds, who are still out in the bars, getting laid on birth control.

    I bet the women commenting are doing so while chasing their cats off their laptops, and grimly looking forward to that lonely 40th birthday looming in the future (or perhaps receding in the rear view mirror).

    I’m quite sure they did not find time between changing baby’s diapers or doing laundry to chime in.



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