Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: There's more than one way to have a baby


The prospect of pregnancy and childbirth is not instantly appealing so, before settling on the traditional method of having children, I considered my other options.

Prior to becoming pregnant I saw an obstetrician for his opinion on whether the fact that an artificial womb-tank for goat foetuses had been developed meant an artificial womb for humans would shortly be available.

He didn't think there was any chance of that but I was glad I checked.

I'd have been mortified if I'd opted for the old-fashioned way only to discover all the other too-wimpy-to-be-pregnant types had their mini-mes incubating in a glass tank in the spare room.

I also contemplated hiring a third party to bear our biological child. After all, if a test-tube baby can be mixed in the lab then transferred into its mother, there was no reason it couldn't be inserted into the womb of a professional baby carrier instead.

This option had a lot of attractions - no inconvenience, no pain and no mess. It seemed like the ultimate twenty-first century solution to an ancient problem.

Then I started wondering how you could be sure this person wouldn't drink, smoke, do drugs or - heaven forbid - scoff a ham-and-camembert sandwich while carrying your child.

Once I figured I'd need to arrange for around-the-clock surveillance of this woman for nine months, it suddenly seemed less complicated to have children in the conventional manner.

But Nicole Kidman clearly wasn't deterred by such petty concerns when she paid a reported $150,000 for reproductive services which included the rental of another woman's uterus.

The unconventional combination of her egg, her husband's sperm and a gestational carrier's womb had a happy outcome when baby Faith was born at the end of December.

Of course, purists believe you should hire a womb only if you're physically incapable of bearing a child.

The judgmental premise is that it's not really a socially acceptable option for someone who is merely disinclined to carry a child themselves. The same people consider pregnancy to be an almost mystical bonding process rather than simply a bodily function.

Indeed, the role of a woman whose uterus is hosting a baby to which she has no genetic connection is widely considered by those involved in the baby-making industry to be that of mere incubator. One surrogate mother said: "I am strictly a hotel."

Newspapers such as The Australian were plastered with dramatic claims that Kidman's gestational carrier has been "stripped of humanity".

The manner in which Kidman procured her child was said to symbolise both "the commodification of childbirth" and the "dismantling of motherhood".

Yet people with sufficient disposable incomes have long farmed out other essentially mundane chores such as housework, lawn-mowing and child-minding.

Should incubating an unborn baby be viewed much differently?

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Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

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