Sunday, July 06, 2008

Questions for Book Tour Ten: Embryo Culture

Group A:

  1. The author describes her journey through infertility both in terms of a faith journey and a process of scientific discovery. How has infertility impacted your faith journey and your views of science/technology?
  1. From early in the book, it is clear that the author ends up with a take-home baby. How do you think this affects her perspective on infertility and how did affect your perception of the book?
  1. The author talks about whether there should be an age limit on who should be able to go through IVF. Should there be an age limit?
  1. The author also talks about how many embryos should be transferred at any given cycle. Should there be a limit?
  1. The author mentions that going through infertility and IVF made her think differently with abortion? Has this changed anyone's position on abortion or did IVF change the way you thought about it?
  1. Beth Kohl discusses her fears about how IVF may lead to increased health problems for her children, and she thinks about this in the context of her daughter's surgeries for cysts on her bladder. Do you ever worry that IVF or other ART could compromise the health of your children created through the process? How has that affected your decision to pursue treatment?
  1. At one point, Beth fixates on a typo on a RE clinic's website and decides, "one picayune omission but enough to confirm I'll have to seek my progeny elsewhere. When dealing with things microscopic - egg nuclei and isolated sperm - there can be no margin for error." Has there ever been something "picayune" that has swayed your decision or direction on your path to parenthood? What was it that made that something seem significant?
  1. Beth likens Dr. Frankfurth's office to one that "should have belonged to a family doctor in Anchorage, circa 1950, and not to a late twentieth century endocrinologist." How much do appearances matter? What were your first impressions of your RE's office? Did/does that color your interactions with the RE himself or herself?
  1. Throughout the book, Beth references different ways of how religion plays into her thoughts and some people's beliefs on infertility. I, for one, did not think of religion and God too much as far as my decisions of how far to take ART but I know people understandable do. However, as I do believe in God though not very religious, I often thought my infertility was a punishment handed to me by the higher powers. Even though the issue is MFIF, I felt as though I was the one being punished because of some things I had done in my earlier years. Beth talks of the possibly of this punishment in the last paragraph on page 49: "Or is He a puritanical smiter, my infertility a pox upon me . . ." My question is: have you thought in terms of your infertility as a punishment, some divine destiny that you should maybe not try to change, or not? And why or why not? And how did/does it affect your decisions? As I would probably not give specifics, I am not meaning for you to, but I felt much comfort knowing I was not the only one who questioned if it was a punishment and am curious as to how other people have related religion and punishment to their IF journey.
  1. Beth makes certain that she tracks how she and her husband respond to infertility in different ways - through diagnosis, debates about treatment, and how infertility is perceived in the "normal" world. Do you find such differences between yourself and your significant other(s)? Was it difficult to determine upon a course of treatment due to those differences?
Group B:

  1. The author researched different religious views on ART while she was in the decision process. How did you make your decision to pursue ART, adoption, childfree living etc? Did your religious views play a big part in that decision?
  1. Did religion shape the decisions you made about treatment? And in turn, did your infertility change the way you looked at your religion?
  1. If you have children via ART, did you every wonder some of the same things that Beth wondered? Would they be "different"? Would others who found out they were ART babies treat them differently?
  1. In Chapter 5 ("Professionals"), Beth writes about her clinic experiences. I got a chuckle out of her observation that "my early-morning posse and I seemed to be codelinquents doing time in juvie hall," as well as her description of George, the (male!) u/s tech. How was/is your clinic experience similar to or different than Beth's? Did you meet/Have you met any particularly memorable people (either fellow patients or clinic staff)?
  1. I had a different experience from the author concerning the type of clinic she went to. She went to a big clinic where she was treated as a number, whereas I went to a smaller clinic where there was a more personal touch. What was your experience? If you went to a big clinic, was it by choice? Did you feel like you still were treated as an individual? Did you have to deal with a Carol-like person? If you went to a smaller clinic, did you feel it was adequately staffed, etc. for your needs? Did you research various facilities (or did you do like me--go with the recommendation of my personal doctor)?
  1. I found the author's concern over the spiritual and religious aspects of ART interesting, but could not relate personally to her concerns. For me, there was never a question morally or ethically that ART (or adoption) were just other ways to create a family. However, I can understand that this may have been more of a harder choice for some. How much did your religion play into your attempts at ART? Did you consult your church/temple/religious leader(s) concerning their policies? Did you go against these policies, and if so, how did you justify this?
  1. Many bits of the book hit hard for me, but none more so than what may have been intended as just something that happened in passing. On page 95 of the version I have (second page of Chapter 6- Aspiration) – they're on their way to the clinic for egg retrieval. Gary and Beth are getting into an argument, courtesy of early morning, hormones, fears, a whole blend of it all. Gary calls Beth "a bitch". Beth then says: "He clenches the steering wheel, steeling himself for the fight he assumes will follow calling me this second-most-prohibited of names. I remain silent, reassessing whether I really want to have kids with this name-calling douchebag." Did you/have you/can you foresee getting into such a minor situation with your partner and immediately jumping to the same conclusions as Beth, that maybe where you are isn't where you should be?
  1. On page 254—255, Beth writes about…well…us. She writes about bloggers and the way we speak about infertility, embryos, et al. How did you take the description of our community? How did you feel about the way she put the word mother or mommy in quotes?

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