Friday, November 14, 2008

Big Bro Brings out the Big Guns

Thanks for your supportive words regarding my last post. Unfortunately I am still struggling with doubts, although now of a type more practical and less irrational.

I had a 2 hour conversation with my lawyer big brother about the known donor contract the other night. He is taking it very seriously and researching everything as best he can. He can't answer every possible eventuality however, since laws in this area have yet to be written (and let's hope my life isn't the one that will write them!)

But the talk did bring up some tough issues. I know my brother is trying to be the best advocate that he can be and also, in a combined lawyer-ly and brotherly sense, make sure I have thought everything through to the nth degree. I appreciate this! Using a known donor is indeed beyond complicated. But it's also tiring to concentrate on every future eventuality. Part of this has to be a leap of faith, doesn't it?

First, he thinks I should go even further than the recommended tests on my donor. He thinks I should be testing numerous genetic diseases as much as possible. He says how would I handle it if my child is born with a terrible condition and I could have known this beforehand? He's probably right. But where does it stop?

Secondly, he worries about my using a midwife, or anything non MD, for the insemination. I kind of chalk this up to a general suspicion of people working outside of established medical channels (this actually goes back hundreds of years)! I shouldn't place much stock in his opinion here, since the procedure is relatively simple. But ok--it did make me pause. He is my big brother and his opinions affect me.

Finally, he is worried about me financially (and I think he was "allowed" to bring this up with me because there is a clause in the contract about my financial fitness). He told me a story about an SMC he knows who was forced to leave her job to find something more flexible. Yea, that happens. But in my case I have a flexible job already. I think his major concern is that I haven't adequately considered just how difficult it might be. Maybe he feels he has to speak to me about it to get it off his own conscience.

I'm not giving up. Just waylaid in details at the moment.


Billy said...

Regarding the genetic testings - only if both parents are found to be carriers of a disease, will there be a chance that the child will have that disease. If only one parent is carrier, then the child might be a carrier, but won't actualy have that disease. Therefore you can have the genetic testings yourself, and only if you are found to be a carrier of such a disease, require the donor to test that disease. No need of asking him to do these tests.

Of course you are right on the point of where do you stop. Because however many genetic tests you do, they will never cover the whole range of possible diseases simply because science today cannot detect everything.
And where does one stop? Is deffness O.K and retardation not!? etc.

Dora said...

Billy's right about the genetic tests. I had all the recommended testing done. I came up positive as a carrier for one Jewish genetic disease, since my donor is also Jewish he got tested for just that one.

Re the midwife, did bro say why he had concerns? If it's medical concerns, yes, brush them off. Just do your homework about the midwife you choose. But it could be a legal concern. From what I understand, not using a doctor could give your donor ammunition to contest custody.

About the financial issues, it probably is just big brotherly concern. I would remind him that waiting to do this will likely make it a more expensive process. You are approaching your late 30s. The longer you wait the harder and more expensive it could be to conceive.

Personally, being questioned about how I will manage financially pisses me off. I stopped seeing a therapist who asked me about this. You'll manage. I'll manage. Same as all single moms, whether by choice or not. I think there are 3 single moms who work at the Starbucks across the street from my office. Do you think they get asked how they manage? You just do!

Tell your bro you'll be thrilled for him to spend his lawyer salary on presents for his niece or nephew.

Meg said...

Married, single, planned or unplanned timing and situations are rarely if ever perfect for having a child. Everyone does the best that they can with what they have.

Would he be suggesting all those genetic tests if you were happily partnered or married? I think that if there is already a condition that runs in your family that you have concerns about then it might make sense to do some testing.

If the concerns about using midwife are medical than I agree with Dora that you should blow them off. You are just talking about insemination not a homebirth attended only by assorted singing animated wildlife. If it's a legal concern it all comes down to how much do you trust your donor because midwife or MD he can still contest custody if he so chooses down the road.

Parents partnered or not have to make career trade offs all the time in order to raise children. Having to leave a job or move to an area with better schools is all part of the package that we are signing up for.

Thinking things through and having a solid plan is a good thing just make sure that you aren't getting so bogged down with looking for all the answers upfront that you miss your chance at motherhood. It's the scariest leap of faith there is!

Jo said...

Ahhhhh.....thank you ladies. seriously. thank you. I think getting my brother involved is complicated because obviously he feels obliged to ponder all these questions with me / for me (and by the way, I've already pondered them thank you very much bro!). An independent lawyer may have been a good idea. But I will grin and bear it for now....and vent to all your generous ears....

Jess said...

Jo, a few disjointed thoughts from me:

In many ways it's good that he brings issues up for you to think about (but I'm sure you've thought of at least some of them before). On the other hand, it is very hard to tell someone close to you what you are planning to do, and then be faced with a wall of "have you thought of..." questions instead of the more desirable "wow that's incredible, you're so brave, you'll be a great mom" type of response.

I remember becoming very angry when my male friend, who is an OBGYN, asked me how I would handle single motherhood financially and emotionally. I asked him if he says this to all his married patients, or just the single ones. We never discussed it again.

I realize how important a brother's opinion is. When my IVF was going awry, my brother said "maybe it's just telling you that you shouldn't do this alone." Ouch. That really hurt. But I know he means well. And I'm sure your bro does too.

As for genetic testing, I agree with the others. Get tested for stuff yourself. If you are a carrier for anything (I found out I'm a carrier of SMA), you can have your donor tested for it. It's nice that you will have him available to you for testing if necessary.

And as for maybe having to switch to a more flexible job...well, I might have to! What's wrong with that? We do what we need to do for the good of our family. Married women do that too.

Overall, you are doing what you need to do to pursue this responsibly. Don't forget to congratulate yourself for your strength and your perseverance (sometimes we have to do that for ourselves, sadly). Big hugs from me to you.

Wow, this is disjointed. Sorry...that's just how I'm feeling today...