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Tuesday 18 January 2011

Nicole Kidman & 'gestational carrier': four words you will hear a lot of today - and for weeks and months.

If I have learned one thing in my recent years of regularly writing on issues surrounding fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood, and raising kids it is that we are a judgemental lot.

In my 20s, I was probably as annoyingly judgemental as the next person, which was a rather simple trap to fall into, really.

I had not experienced much in life - as in, finding the right partner, being married, finding it difficult to conceive, that kinda thing - and so it was rather easy to make grand, sweeping statements like, "When Iiiiiiii have kids, Iiiiiiii will do this, and that, and blah, blah, blah (insert disillusioned statement here).

But the past few years have been interesting - and at times, gutting to say the least - and have made me, hmmm, how do I say this... get my head outta my arse, and be even more sensitive to people's suffering and hardship, and wonder what the back-story to their trials and tribulations is all about.

So today, when I heard that Nicole Kidman had had a baby - three weeks ago, never sporting the hint of a baby bump and clearly not carrying the baby herself - I immediately wondered what the reasoning was behind this decision.

I have only read two articles about it - and only a handful of comments, some of which are predictably vicious - and still am curious to know how this decision by Nicole and husband Keith Urban came about.

One thing I do know is that conception isn't as easy as many would have you believe. And by 'many' I mean the myths that are propogated by a handful of very vocal (mostly) women who will share how easily they fell pregnant, how they planned the month, the gender, dammit the whole nursery, and there you are wondering how the hell to figure out when you're ovulating, what to look for in a saliva test, and how is it that... well, eeeeeverybody else is pregnant?

The truth is it is very bloody difficult to fall pregnant, especially within the first few months of trying.

My husband and I tried for a whole year and by the time I got the news I was pregnant (later learning it was twins!) I was certain it was not my destiny to be a mother - that's how deeply sad I was about the whole thing. In the back of my mind, I hoped and prayed that my gut instinct that somehow I really would be a mum would instead be true.

But I could never be so sure, and a close friend of mine has sadly recently illustrated this point. At 38, she found out she was pre-menopausal and her body had stopped producing eggs. She is currently connected with a woman who has agreed to donate eggs to be transferred to her body (using her own husband's sperm) so she can carry the baby as per usual for nine months and give birth. The tears I have seen and shared have jolted me back to reality again and again.

As I said, by the end of my 20s, judging people kinda almost stopped (never completely - we all judge to some degree, admit it!), while my 30s have been nothing short of massive wake up call after wake up call.

That's why I trust that whatever reason Nicole Kidman had for using a gestational carrier is a very valid one. Not to mention legal and above board and all of that stuff that people will question. Read on and this will make more sense.

So, what is a gestational carrier?

It basically means having another woman carry and deliver your baby for you. It may be used as an option if you're unable to conceive because your uterus is irregular or missing or if various other fertility treatments have failed.

The treatment involves undergoing an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce an embryo that's biologically yours. If this isn't possible, you can also use donated eggs, sperm, or embryos. Your embryo will then be placed in the uterus of a gestational carrier, who'll carry the baby to term. When the child is born, the carrier hands the baby to you, the mother.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban surprised the world today with their announcement that they welcomed a new daughter, Faith Margaret - born on December 28 - via a 'gestational carrier', which is the newer terminology for 'surrogate'.

In a statement released today (no doubt timed post-Golden Globes), they said:

“Our family is truly blessed, and just so thankful, to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret.”

“No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier.”

Already, there have been nasty, nasty comments on sites claiming Nicole used her surrogate as a "rent-a-belly."

In my research, I came across this information from IVFAustralia.

"IVFAustralia will only facilitate surrogacy in the following situations:

In order to reduce the risks of surrogacy to both the commissioning couple and the proposed surrogate, we have a number of conditions that have to be fulfilled before we will offer this treatment. These are:

The commissioning parent must have a defined medical disorder that makes it either impossible or unacceptably dangerous for a baby to be carried in the uterus. IVFAustralia does not offer surrogacy for couples where the problem is solely that IVF has been repeatedly unsuccessful or that there have been repeated miscarriages of unknown cause."

You can read more here:


It is not known in which country Nicole and Keith undertook their surrogacy/gestational carrier agreement, but no doubt there would be similar laws in place.

So what do you think about it all?

(Photo courtesy: Associated Press).

1 comment:

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