I don't usually proclaim my love for celebrity chefs--you probably understand that I'm watching you for the recipes or to see the creative ways in which you use ostrich meat, even if I don't actually eat ostrich. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart for announcing your IVF pregnancy during a news cycle obsessively reporting on the outlying freakiness of the assisted reproduction community including the Georgia bill and Nadya Suleman's octuplets.
Thank you for your part in helping reclaim ART from being a dirty word.
Thank you for not only having the ovaries (which, you know, are ten times more powerful than having cojones) to make something called "pig candy" in the coffee battle but to also speak frankly about how you and your wife built your family including your current, simultaneous pregnancies. I love that you cross-transferred your embryos, giving each parent the chance to be either the biological or genetic parent for each child. I love that you admitted that you two had your first IVF cycle five years ago which resulted in your oldest son (Jennifer's embryo and womb). That you followed it with a cross-transfer of your embryo to Jennifer's womb, and now are carrying a child created from Jennifer's embryo in your womb while she carries a child with an unknown genetic parent because you two transferred embryos from both of you to her womb.
See, that's the story that people need to hear. Because even though some are acting like 14-year-old boys as they discuss it (yes, Mr. Hilton, I'm speaking about you), more are seeing your story at its roots: two people, in love, who want to build a family, and use technology to make it possible. This is technology used correctly--it fills a gap, making the impossible possible in a way that is healthy (emotionally and physically) for all parties involved.
Listen, there are those who have never had to struggle for something, never had to push open a door that was only slightly ajar, and so they won't get it. They'll blog about it, asking if you should be allowed to do this instead of considering how what you are doing is mirroring what heterosexuals take for granted in their family building process--that unless they are struggling with infertility or choose adoption as their path to parenthood, both parents will get to experience being either the genetic or biological parent. It's a given that heterosexuals rarely consider and it's a shame that they use terms such as "real mom", "unusual", or "silly" instead of highlighting the creativity and forward thinking you two brought to family building. Forget them--concentrate instead on the people who have just mentally had doors open for them who hadn't considered how they could achieve the same thing in their family building process.
But it's not just a service you're doing for other women who are actively building their families. You're putting a face onto IVF--a familiar face who shows up on the television each night showing brains and brawn (it takes a wo-manimal to cook a five-course meal in under an hour in front of a live studio audience with people reporting on your every move). The people who have had their views of IVF shaped by the recent octuplet incident and now pulling back and seeing a new twist on just who uses IVF (and who is wo-manimal enough to inject herself with hormones).
For every idiot claiming that they can't quite wrap their brain around this one (seriously, I could understand if we were talking geometry theorems or sentence diagrams, but they can't understand how one woman could supply the egg and the other supply the womb?), there is another person who was being dragged down the sensationalism road, with the Georgia bill and Nadya Suleman waving to them from the sidelines and they're suddenly pausing, refusing to walk another step and even muttering to themselves, "so normal people do IVF too? Celebrity chefs like Cat Cora? And she has singletons?"
I think at the heart of it is that our language cannot keep up with advances and people have a tendency to think small. I mean, unless you're going to head down the incredibly offensive road of "Irish twins", we don't have a term that describes this type of twinship. And lest you believe the definition of twinning refers only to two children born simultaneously from the same womb, the dictionaries are already far ahead of the game, explaining that twinship can refer to anything: "two persons or things closely related to or resembling each other." They just stop at imagining all the possible permutations.
I mean, first and foremost, we need a word for you: for siblings born of a few months apart and in two separate wombs. And then we need a term for siblings who enter a family within months of each other--one via adoption and the other via a pregnancy. Or two siblings who are from embryos created during the same cycle but transferred years apart.
Listen, Cat, you're creative with the ingredients; but bloggers are creative with words. Let readers suggest new words we could introduce to the lexicon for these situations.
Of course, your situation reminded me of one of my favourite blogs, Uterus x 2, and their subsequent story, Finding Chaos. Carey and Steph did dual IVF cycles that resulted in twins and a singleton born 4 1/2 months apart. I asked Carey if she had any advice for you, since they have been in this same situation.
Well, I'm all about the SCHEDULE. We live our lives by a set schedule (especially in those first few months) and it gives us so much time to get things done knowing when the babies sleep and eat. Plus, it makes for happier babies - they thrive on it. Some may think we're a little too scheduled, but it works for us. When one baby eats, feed the other - even if that means waking them up.See, that is great advice. That's what you should focus on. I mean, that and your other two children and wife. Oh, and the cookbooks, television career, new restaurant you're opening, and your organization, Chefs for Humanity, that "is an alliance of culinary professionals and educators working in partnership with U.S. and global organizations, providing nutrition education, hunger relief, and emergency and humanitarian aid to reduce hunger across the world." Because that's the type of person who does IVF--someone who has the energy to think outwardly while having the fortitude to think inwardly. Oh, and can wield a syringe to her stomach just as well as she yields a knife to carrots.
I think it's important to avoid the "mine" and "yours" trap that can happen when both moms give birth at nearly the same time. Does that make any sense?
As for being pregnant at the same time... well, that's tough. Hard to get your needs met when your partner is all pregnant and miserable too! But it was really awesome to know what each other was really experiencing. We were 4.5 months apart.
P.S. I'm really sorry I rooted against you in the chocolate challenge. I am such a whore for Alinea and pastry that I got blinded by seeing Alex Stupak. Perhaps, as JK Rowling would say, he's part-Veela. Regardless, the next time the episode reairs at 3 a.m. and we're still up talking about my feelings, I'm going to root for you.
cross-posted on BlogHer