It’s just a tad freaky and disturbing to me that an Australian couple recently aborted twin boys in preference of trying for a girl through IVF, especially when I look at Archie, Lewis and Tyson and imagine if they’d never received their chance to meet the world and grow into themselves.
Putting serious gender related illnesses aside, I don’t like that we have the ability to choose the sex of unborn children and that’s despite having to endure several instances of misdirected pity over the past few years since Tyson was born.
‘Oh, you missed out on a girl,’ was a common comment, often finished with the condescending, ‘At least they’re all healthy.’
These comments relegate Tyson to a ‘failed attempt’, or something that we have just ‘settled for’ and put me in a position where I feel like I need to defend him as unique and wanted instead of simply celebrating him.
Reservoir Mum and myself didn’t get pregnant for a third time to try for a girl. We simply wanted another child. We would have been overjoyed to have a girl but were equally ecstatic to have a boy. Now that boy has become the cheeky, inquisitive, energetic Tyson we couldn’t imagine or wish for anything different.
That the options are there to allow for an individual like Tyson to be aborted in favour of trying for a baby of another sex is an horrific thought.
Although I’m not ‘against’ abortion in all circumstances, my opinion on it has changed since Reservoir Mum suffered a miscarriage last October. For most of my life I considered the unborn baby to be little more than a collection of cells. But the miscarriage affected me very deeply. When I saw the grainy image of our baby’s twelve week old body on the sonogram I was immediately struck with a feeling of guilt and loss. I felt that I had let our baby die alone at the same time that I was grieving for a life as unique as Archie, as Lewis, as Tyson. I would give anything to still be watching him grow and to still be anticipating his warm body in my arms. The experience has definitely changed my thoughts on abortion and the unborn baby.
As confusing as it can be to use words like ‘selfish’ when discussing a couple’s desire for babies and family I can only view the decision to try for a particular gender as entirely self-centred. Obviously, making the decision to have a baby or not serves the needs of Mum and Dad to a large extent but, in my opinion, the first thought should always go to the future welfare of the unborn child. If a couple will be upset and disappointed – even traumatised in the case of this particular couple – by the birth of one gender or the other, then they shouldn’t be trying for a child at all. I was recently told of a mother and father crying in disappointment at the birth of their fourth daughter. And I can only feel sorry (horrified) for the daughter.
If this couple is successful in their bid for a daughter, I’m not sure it’s a great thing for her to discover somewhere down the track that her potentially healthy siblings were discarded because they were lacking certain characteristics favoured by Mum and Dad. And I can’t help but think that their three healthy boys will struggle on some level that they were not quite enough to make their parents happy, a thought that occurred to me when I read this quote from the father, ‘With all that we’ve been through, we think we’re in for a bit of luck.’ Most people would consider having three healthy boys to be pretty lucky.
Reservoir Mum and I may have another attempt at a fourth child but never in the hope of a ‘achieving’ a particular gender. We will celebrate a family of three boys and one girl as much as we will celebrate a family of four boys. Simply put – a new baby would be wonderful. And there’s a pretty good chance of that happening.