Posts Tagged ‘sex’

Gender Selection: Not Just for the Kardashians Anymore

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Gender selectionThe practice of using medical technology to choose gender is also known as gender selection. It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it is becoming an increasingly popular option in most fertility clinics in the US.

There are a few reasons a couple might consider gender selection when conceiving. Maybe they’ve tried to have a girl but have only succeeded in having boys. Maybe they have a genetic abnormality that results in illness, such as hemophilia. Or perhaps they’re concerned about male dominated illnesses, such as autism.

I actually first heard about gender selection this past summer while I was at the park with my kids. At the time, I was listening in on a conversation some other moms were having one bench over from me.

“I just couldn’t image not having a girl! And I already have two boys…because I was doing IVF, they asked me what I would prefer and if I wanted to choose. It was a total no-brainer.” Another friend recently asked me if I had considered “spinning” my husband’s sperm, in an effort to balance out my family by adding a girl.

I knew the Kanye and Kim’s of the world could readily afford to choose what they were having, but middle class America?  My curiosity was piqued.  What were the different types of gender selection processes?

The Ericsson Method

One common way to gender select without using IVF is the Ericsson method. It was developed in the 1970’s and is also known as “spinning sperm.” In this process, a semen sample is placed into a test tube along with albumin, creating thick layers. The sperm are then spun around really fast. The theory is that female sperm (x) is heavier than male sperm (y). When the sample is spun, the x and y sperms separate with the y-bearing sperm at the top. The woman is then inseminated with either the sperm at the top or the sperm at the bottom, depending on their choice.

The Ericsson Method is supposedly around 73-83% effective but some studies suggest it is closer to 50%. The costs can run anywhere from $600-$1200 with implantation. Although it has been around for decades now, I came across many stories of women who had traveled to have the procedure, and it did with unsuccessful results. There are licensed Ericsson clinics in many US; however, it is not actively endorsed by fertility doctors. The only procedure that is endorsed is PGD.

PGD with In Vitro Fertilization

If you have a bit more cash, you can opt for PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which can select a baby’s gender with 99.9% certainty. PGD is not legal in most countries, but it is in the US, attracting woman from all over the world who have the means and the desire.

The process for PGD is more intense than the Ericsson method. It requires that women take fertility drugs first to stimulate the egg production. Then, the eggs are fertilized by the partners’ sperm at the fertility office. After, the embryos are left to grow and are then checked for chromosomal abnormalities and gender. Only embryos that pass the test are implanted. The extra embryos can then be frozen for future implantation.

The combined cost of PGD with IVF usually runs about $20,000 but some insurance companies will cover portions of the IVF cost. PGD is the only method that is recommended when trying to eliminate a gender because of family health concerns.

Doctors report and chart patient selections, and many say that they still remain around a 50/50 ratio of boy to girl requests. It seems like a slippery genetic slope; one that many fear is just getting us closer to choosing other traits like hair color and height. But for those who go through the experience, the intense desire far outweighs the ethics involved.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, iced tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

My Pregnancy: Week 15

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

My Pregnancy: Week 15I wrote on the topic of comments people make when one is pregnant. I try to see the comments as opportunities to understand that person better. For example, people talking about how much they hope I have a girl may be indicative of how much they enjoyed having a daughter of their own or wished they had.  Sometime I can see that, hear their interest in my life and hopes that they have for me.

But it’s mostly really starting to annoy me. Someone close told me they were “praying for a girl.” So aside the fact that the baby already either has ovaries and eggs or not by now, I’m most frustrated that they never even thought to ask me what I want. And it’s really hard to say anything but “thank you” without coming off as a jerk or having to explain myself thoroughly. I tried with one person, who used their experience as wisdom. It was sort of like the, “once you have kids you’ll understand” adage. It was more of a “you don’t know what you’ll be missing if you have all boys.”

I don’t think I’m angry about people’s opinions being other than my own. I am very content in my knowing that our family life has meaning no matter what my child’s reproductive anatomy. A penis or vagina is not indicative of whether our family is “complete.” I’m angry that people aren’t seeing me, aren’t trying to connect with me. And now I’m left in a struggle of how to relate and connect to them as I harbor more and more feelings of annoyance, isolation, even resentment.

It sounds a little dramatic, I know. Maybe I could just let these comments on my pregnancy roll off one by one, but they have become a large puddle on the floor that I slosh into the next conversation with. If there is something else I’m battling internally, I’d like to figure it out.

Maybe I really do want a girl and I’m afraid I won’t have one. This seems doubtful. I’m very happy to have a girl, but I also get very excited about having all boys. Just me and my guys! I’m girly and am not afraid of having a girl like I have heard some friends express.

As I’ve studied gender and am a feminist, part of the anger may be the underlying sexist tones that some comments take. They are these slight comments that encourage silent sexism. They aren’t clear-cut like, “boys are more important that girls,” but there is something annoying about the way a “sweet little girl” sounds like more of a trinket than an equal to my boys. It’s not in the best interest of my relationship with someone to assume the thing that angers me, but again, that puddle sloshes at my feet.

Annie is a mom of two toddlers finding comfort in breakfast foods and the excitement of one little baby on the way. She’s less tired than the last three months but more tired than 5 years ago.

I am a Boy Mom

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

I am a Boy MomI will be honest, when I was pregnant with my first Little, I wildly wanted a girl. I am the only girl amongst brothers; and I desperately wanted a sister as a child.  As soon as the Clear Blue stick showed two lines, I had girly visions of dance recitals and prom dress shopping. Despite my penchant for all things female, I couldn’t help but feel like I was carrying a boy. So, it came as no surprise when then ultrasound tech pointed out the “goods” and enthusiastically declared, “It’s a BOY!”  I experienced the same exclamation two years later when pregnant with my second son.  Suddenly, I was a boy mom.

My job of mothering these little men is loud and chaotic and sweaty. But boys are also sweet and incredibly nurturing. They are torn jeans and scraped knees and a hungry thirst for life. And dirt. There is so much dirt.

I love having all boys and here are my top 5 reasons why:

1) Raising Good Men

Having boys, I get a front row seat to watching my little guys grow into gentleman. I am raising them to be sensitive and manly, gentle and strong. I get to teach them to grow up to be good husbands who are respectful of others’ feelings. I also have the opportunity to teach them to appreciate women who are independent, smart, and equally good leaders. Although I may never understand them completely, I can give them the tools to recognize and appreciate a women’s perspective.

2) The Mother-Son Bond

The mother and son relationship is unique; our relationship will set the parameters for all their future love relationships. Being loving and affectionate will teach them to do the same in their own lives. My boys, ages 6 and 3, have no trouble climbing into mom’s lap to snuggle, read, or have quiet time. Although they typically go to dad for all things manly and aggressive, I am their first pick for a good hug. Being their mom, we share a bond that will never waiver. They are unafraid of showing me their sensitive sides because they know that I have arms that will always be wide enough to catch them when they fall.

3) The Sports

I never thought that I would love sports as much as I do, but it’s not really an option when the rest of the people in your home are obsessed. I love watching my sons play soccer and go swimming. I love how excited they get over football and basketball. From the time they were small, I don’t think either of my boys have ever seen a ball they didn’t like. My trunk is regularly full of soccer cleats, balls, water bottles, helmets, scooters, and bikes. There are dirty, smelly little things, but their enthusiasm is contagious.

4) Less Drama

I had a hard time including “less drama” in this post considering that today alone my boys were fighting over a broken crayon, who could sit next to me at a restaurant, and how many cookies the other was allowed to have three days from now. They are loud and competitive. My “moms of teenager” friends assure me, however, that there is much less drama as they grow older. It seems that with boys, they fight loud and quickly and then they move on. The transgression is quickly and forever forgotten. For that, I am infinitely grateful.

5) The Bond between Brothers

There is something distinctive about having kids of the same gender. They will go through similar life events, hopefully experiencing a closeness that will last a lifetime. They can learn from one another and will likely support one another, despite their differences in personality. As much as my boys fight, they are also fiercely protective of one another. They are quick to stick up for each another if they feel one is suffering even the slightest of injustice. I love the bond that they’ve forged and the comfortable relationship that they share with one another.

There are tiny fleeting moments when I feel sad that I will never see my own daughter walk down the aisle, but I know that I was given the children I was meant to love and mother. I am often asked if I will try to have a girl, and I could, but these boys complete our family. And truthfully, trying to keep up with them has left us totally and utterly worn out!

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.