A Real Story of a Real Mom Through Donor Egg and Surrogacy

Dawn Davenport


I saw the article on the front page of the New York Times and sighed.  The title, Meet the Twiblings, promised, in my mind, another one of those articles focusing on the new fangledness of third party reproduction: “Gosh darn, look what they’ve done now. ” I was sure it would start tongues wagging of designer babies.  Well, I was wrong.  This one is worth the read. A real story of a real mom through egg donation and surrogacy.02babymaking-t_CA2-articleLarge-300x239

Melanie Thernstrom and her husband Michael turned to egg donation and surrogacy after five failed IVF attempts.  They wanted twins, but didn’t want the risks associated with twins, so they transferred embryos created from donor eggs and Michael’s sperm into two different gestational carriers at the same time and had two children born five days apart.

What I loved about this article is Thernstrom’s head on addressing of the “issues” associated with egg donation and surrogacy.  And let’s face it, third part reproduction has its share of issues.  Why not adopt a child who already exists?  Is it exploitation to pay a young women for her eggs or a woman to carry your child? Turning “the most intimate thing a couple could do — coupling — into a ménage à trois, let alone à quatre or cinq.” The almost obscene amount of money the whole process cost.  Thernstrom doesn’t shy away from them.  You may not agree with her on all  points, but I respect that she didn’t gloss over them.

The only point I thought she either avoided or didn’t recognize was the decision to consciously have two children born a few days apart.  She mentions her fascination with twins, the efficiency of raising twins and the advantages of having a same age sibling, without acknowledging the possible down sides of sharing your infancy or having to explain your conception throughout your life when people find out your sibling is five days older or younger than you.  The advantages might well outweigh the disadvantages for this family, but I wish she had at least addressed them.  She does get bonus points in my mind for her very forthright discussion of the health risks to the babies associated with having twins gestated in the same uterus.

For me, Thernstrom shone when she wrote about other people’s response to their pregnancy.  She chose to be completely open about both egg donation and surrogacy and people often had no idea of how to respond or what words to use.  “in being open about our story, I sometimes felt I was inviting a Greek chorus of doleful commentary. There was a curious insistence that the situation must be darker and more difficult than it actually was and that I must simply be in denial or trying to put a brave face on it all.”   Thernstrom owned her motherhood through and through and was able to withstand the barbs better than most.  I wish we could take her attitude and inoculate all moms through egg donation and or surrogacy.

Great article.  Kudos to Melanie Thernstom and the New York Times Magazine.

Image credit: The New York Times Magazine

30/12/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 8 Comments

8 Responses to A Real Story of a Real Mom Through Donor Egg and Surrogacy

  1. Avatar Tracy O'Mara Whitney says:

    I saw that. She did have some good thoughts. Did you get a little thrill when you saw her comments? The AUTHOR? I always get a little thrill over stuff like that 🙂 More evidence of my geek status.

  2. Avatar Gemma Strong Randazzo says:

    Great article. We tried IVF followed by an attempt at surrogacy where my sister attempted to carry our child (my eggs, husband’s sperm), we lost the baby at 7 weeks. It’s amazing the comments you get and how people just think you should move on and accept that you weren’t meant to have a family. Never ceases to amaze the crap that comes out of people’s mouths. Good for them for having the strength to do what they needed to do.

  3. Avatar Tracy O'Mara Whitney says:

    Just saw her and the ladies on the Today show. I didn’t read the article, but enjoyed the peek into their journey on the news this a.m. Might have to check out the story. Great post, and following comments.

  4. Avatar Lindsey says:

    Lily, I felt the same way when I first read the article. I felt like she was very eccentric and had a bit of an arrogant attitude about the process.

    However, as a mother of a child who was conceived via egg and sperm donation, I felt like I could relate to the mother a bit. Especially, the difficulty of explaining the DD’s origins to her when she gets older.
    It also surprised me how many people are against using third party reproduction to conceive a baby. We have met people who have told us we were “playing God” and that egg donation was like having an affair with your significant other. Its crazy…

  5. Avatar Melanie Thernstrom says:

    Dawn–Thanks for posting my article and for your nice comments about it! I can now see that I gave the subject of our desire for twins short-shrift and should have expanded on it. It mainly had to do with panic about getting older since we wasted so much time in fertility treatment and wanting to complete our family while I was still 45 (the upper limit of what some fertility clinics recommend)! I know people have babies older than that, but–esp. since I have some medical problems–I didn’t feel there was time to space our children apart properly. And we do love having same-age siblings: we love watching them play together and we take great pleasure in knowing they will always have each other…

    Lily–To me the phrase “biological mother” to refer to the egg donor denigrates the role of Melissa and Fie, the women who carried the babies and have a vital biological relationship to them. This new technology has created a new situation for which we need new terms…

    Best Wishes to everyone struggling with infertility.

  6. Avatar Lily White says:

    Hmm, I’ll have to give that article another try. I stopped reading when she bragged about telling people that “there is no biological mother”.


    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Lily, I too did not agree with everything she said and struggled with some things, but I appreciated that she addressed the ethical issues head on, and at least acknowledged that they existed.

  7. The author of the article in the New York Time mag commented on my review. She had some interesting thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.