It’s Really Not Any Of Your Business How I Created My Child — Is It?
I was at the lab waiting to get my blood drawn (you know the yearly lipid panel, thyroid, sugar screen.) and sitting across from me was a woman obviously pregnant who was clearly in her mid to late 40’s, and next to her another woman (who I will fondly refer to as Ms. Nosey Pants or NP for short) about the same age — all of us waiting to have our blood drawn. We all smiled at one another making the usual and customary small talk about the weather, how long we are going to have to wait, would summer ever get here, blah blah blah.
A few minutes passed and Ms. NP pipes up and says “IVF?” And the pregnant woman shuffled her feet, shifted uncomfortably in her chair, made eye contact with me and then looked at her seat neighbor and said “Yep, we needed some help.” NP woman nodded and for a second I thought maybe she was going to smile and high five this mom to be and say congratulations, or right on, or something positive. But no, she narrowed her eyes and said:
“Your egg? or donor egg?”
This poor pregnant mom to be visibly blanched. And me being me, (well those of you who know me, I just speak my mind and say what I feel) I naturally spoke up and I leaned forward and I said:
“Really? Why do you ask?”
The look of relief on the pregnant mom’s face said it all, and just in the nick of time her name was called and she was up out of that chair faster than you could say Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This left me of course to contend with Ms. Nosey Pants.
Now if this had been any other subject I probably would have left well enough alone after all, “NP” has stuck her nose abruptly into the nearest Readers Digest and was clearly not comfortable herself and doing her best to ignore me. Not being one to leave well enough alone I said “May I talk to you?” And NP lowered her Readers Digest and said “Are you talking to me?” As if she’d never seen me before. And I smiled ever so sweetly and I nodded my head emphatically and said “Yep, I wanted to know if I may talk to you.” The Readers Digest went down upon her lap, she crossed her arms and said “Sure if you’d like what’s on your mind?” And so I smiled and stood up and walked over and took the chair next to hers. And realizing this made NP even more uncomfortable I said “Really, it’s okay, I don’t bite.” And smiled again.
I had in mind what I wanted to say which was “Listen, mind your own business and stop going around making others uncomfortable because you are nosey parker.” But I didn’t — I really wanted to know the psychology behind why people ask personal questions. So I just said benignly, “Why did you ask that mother to be if she used her own eggs or donor eggs?” NP blinked for a few seconds and then said “I was just curious I guess, she looked a little old to be having a baby.” I replied with “Do you have children?” And she shook her head no, and went on to say that she never wanted children. I nodded and said “I understand that.” She asked me if I had children and I said “Yes, I have one child that I had through egg donation.” This woman turned white and then red, and began to stammer about not thinking before speaking and she was sorry. I told her it was okay, she shouldn’t feel weird and that everyone is on their own path in regards to their family building choices. And so we started this conversation that began sort of in a stilted way — she asked many questions about egg donation, and why people would choose this way to create their families. She went on to tell me that when she sees older women and they are pregnant she almost always assumes they used an egg donor and to her that just seemed to weird. We ended the conversation with me telling her that perhaps because she has no maternal desire to become a mother that any way of family building would be foreign to her and she agreed. Her name was then called and she shook my hand, I handed her my card, and off she went.
Shortly after, the pregnant woman walked out of the lab area and past me and she paused and all of the sudden her worlds just came tumbling out — “Thank you so much, we did do IVF, and I am older and this is donor egg but I am actually a gestational surrogate for my sister. I have had three kids, and my sister lost her uterus to cancer so I am carrying her egg for her and I didn’t feel like launching into the whole explanation with a stranger, it’s her story to tell I am just helping her because I love her.” By the time she finished her explanation her eyes were wet. I immediately stood up and hugged and said to her that she was doing one of the most gracious and giving things ever and she didn’t owe anyone an explanation about anything. We exchanged names and she went on her way. By now it was my turn to be poked by the lab vampires.
While I sat in the lab I got the same tech I always get. She’s phlebotomist who’s studying to become a midwife — lovely lady who’s 40 and really good at what she does. After we exchanged pleasantries and I commented on how big her kids were getting from the photo on her wall I blurted out “In your travels with drawing blood from pregnant women do you often wonder if the older pregnant women who sit in your chair are using donor egg?” And my tech shrugged and said “No, not really, and even if I did, I’d never ask because it’s non of my beeswax” I nodded and smiled and shook my head and said “Of course.” And she didn’t ask me why I asked the question she just continued to draw blood — before I knew it I was finished and on my way.
Driving home the conversation between the pregnant mother, NP, and myself continued to play over and over in my head — it was bothersome to me so much so I continued to think about it for several days. If I met someone who was bald, especially a woman would I ask her if she had Cancer on the premise that most bald women who don’t wear scarves probably are bald due to chemotherapy?
How about a woman who’s face was bruised — would I ask her if she was a victim of domestic violence?
What about someone who was in a wheel chair, or someone who was clearly disabled? Would I say “Are you paralyzed?” or “Is your child mentally retarded?”
No, no and no.
We don’t ask each other how much money we make. The last person who asked me who I voted for in the presidential election got an “thanks but I don’t discuss politics with anyone outside my family”. And we certainly don’t discuss who got on top, or anything else connected with sex with complete strangers do we?
So why is it okay for complete strangers to ask “Your egg or donor egg?”
It’s not — because at the end of the day it’s really none of your business how I created my child regardless of how grey my hair is, or how old I may appear to you.
Are we clear?