Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Babies as the New Birkins?

Over the past few weeks, as yet another Hollywood celeb announced their impending visit from the stork, I felt a nag inside me. While it's nice to have a break from 2010's Breakup Bonanza, something started bothering me. I wasn't sure if it was the way all the Mario Lopez's out there were reporting it, but it definitely bothered me.

Then I found this article, and I realized what it is- the commercialization of baby! From the Herald Sun:

When Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced the surprise birth of their new baby this week, they made special mention of "our gestational carrier". For many people there was a moment of confusion. Was this a disease? A new type of baby sling?

You have to wonder at the gross distortion of the euphemism the celebrity couple chose to describe the anonymous woman who had given birth to Faith Margaret Kidman Urban on December 28, in Nashville, USA.

The baby may have been created from the couple's own fertilised egg but it was nurtured in the womb of its birth mother, and probably loved a little by that woman during the pregnancy.
Even if she was paid, as most US surrogates are, what she did was an act of enormous personal generosity, and ought not be diminished by weasel words that seek to dehumanise the most intimate human relationship.
To have carried a baby in your womb, shared a blood supply, felt its little feet kick against your abdomen, heard its little heart beat, sensed it growing bigger and stronger, while it changes your metabolism, and the way you sleep, breathe and eat, and then to have given birth to a living, breathing human child you have been longing to cuddle is not a trivial act. So to have it described in such clinical, remote terms is insensitive and thoughtless, to say the least.

It is so much more than being "born through a gestational carrier", as if the woman was some sort of ceremonial archway through which the child was magically conveyed...

Of course, the world rejoices that the Kidman-Urbans have been blessed with a second daughter, a little sister to two-year-old Sunday Rose.

Kidman's past fertility problems are well known and at the age of 43, conception wasn't going to be any easier.

But it's hard to escape an icky feeling about the current fad for surrogate babies, of children as the latest fashion accessory - or, in the case of gay couples, political statement.

Accessory babies are cute, interesting, make you proud, alleviate the ennui of celebrity fortune, give you unconditional love, novel social projects, lots of new shopping opportunities, and can be receptacles of all your adult yearnings, but with all the annoying, messy, time-consuming, inconvenient and tedious bits of parenthood outsourced to egg donors, IVF clinics, rental wombs, nannies and childcare centres (for "socialising").

A few of the recent celebrity womb rentals have included Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick - twin girls; Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka - fraternal twins, a girl and boy; and Kelsey Grammer and estranged wife Camille - a boy and a girl...

But woe betide the child who cramps your lifestyle.
Some of the testimony to the sad inquest into the death of toddler Maia Comas on the northern beaches of Sydney captures this new commodified attitude to parenting.

THE deputy NSW Coroner Scott Mitchell was yesterday unable to determine whether or not Maia's drowning death in 2007 was accidental, but he said the two-year-old's access to a blow-up swimming pool in her back yard "suggests great irresponsibility" on her parents' part.

Maia's parents, Pablo Comas and Samantha Razniak, were devastated when told she had an incurable degenerative genetic disease which would leave her severely disabled.

But their response was chilling, the inquest has heard. They didn't want to look after a disabled child. They wanted to travel and have a life. Could she be euthanased?

"I can't cope with it," the father allegedly said, according to evidence at the inquest. "We are two hippies living in a house, playing guitar."...

The Wall Street Journal last month ran a story about the new global industry of baby manufacturing, with baby "concierges" co-ordinating the coming together of egg, sperm, womb and parents from all corners of the earth.

One of the most affordable packages featured was the "India bundle" from PlanetHospital, which gets you "one egg donor, four embryo transfers into four separate surrogate mothers, room and board for the surrogate, and a car and driver for the parents-to-be when they travel to India to pick up the baby."
Planet Hospital also specialises in "surrogaycy" for same-sex couples but doesn't really seem to care much who the parents are.

Chief executive Rudy Rupak told the Journal: "Our ethics are agnostic . . . How do you prevent a paedophile from having a baby? If they're a paedophile then I will leave that to the US Government to decide, not me."

That sounds more amoral - or downright evil - than agnostic..."

IT IS EVIL. May God help this world.


Roxeanne de Luca said...

Unmentioned is the other reason to not gestate your own baby: apparently, stretch marks and baby fat are for the unwashed masses.

It sets feminism back when we make the natural function of a woman's body into something sick, evil, or base. (Not that I'm into TMI, by the way....) But when a supermodel like Gisele gives birth and breast-feeds, she's demonstrating that women's bodies, in all their forms, are lovely. When Sarah Jessica Parker has someone else give birth, she's saying that only sterile women's bodies are worth looking at.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hi Roxeanne! I picked up on that pregnancy= ugly, fat "below me" vibe, too. Quite frankly, its repulsive.

Great comment!

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