New York Times official rich person-in-residence, plastic surgery addict, and orgy enthusiast Alex Kuczynski has a long, long, torturous story in the Sunday Magazine about her recent experience with a surrogate mother. Would you like to know how stressful and terrible it is to pay another woman to bring your child to term? No, probably not, but here you go.
Kuczynski, 40, is married to Charles Stevenson, a rich investor 20 years her senior. I.V.F. failed the couple and natural pregnancies ended in miscarriages. They switched their attention, then, to surrogacy. Specifically, to gestational surrogacy, in which "the surrogate mother is carrying a child genetically unrelated to her." Alex encountered, during this process, the class system! "We encountered the wink-nod rule: Surrogates would never say they were motivated to carry a child for another couple just for money; they were all motivated by altruism. This gentle hypocrisy allows surrogacy to take place. Without it, both sides would have to acknowledge the deep cultural revulsion against attaching a dollar figure to the creation of a human life."
We had the money to pay. My husband is a very successful investor; I have made a healthy income for a writer. We were lucky in that we could afford to do what most infertile couples cannot. The questions for us were philosophical. I suppose I could have decided that it was my destiny to remain childless, that it was somehow meant to be. But I hate the phrase "meant to be," loaded with its small, smug assumptions, its apathy and fake stoicism. I believe that where things can be fixed, they should be fixed. In our case, reproductive technology could make it relatively easy for us to have our biological child.
And, at that moment, having a biologically related child felt necessary. What began as wistful longing in my 20s had blistered into a mad desire that seemed to defy logic. The compulsion to create our own bloodline seemed medieval, and I knew we could enjoy our marriage - our lives - without a child. Yet I couldn't argue myself out of my desire. A child with our genes would be a part of us. My husband's face would be mirrored in our child's face, proof that our love not only existed, but could be recreated beyond us. Die without having created a life, and die two deaths: the death of yourself, and the death of the immense opportunity that is a child.
Thankfully, they found an eminently qualified woman to carry the baby. Cathy is married to a VP of marketing for a credit union! She is intelligent, and her answers to the surrogate questionnaire "were not handwritten in the tiny alloted spaces." She wrote a really good essay. Not just any biologically competent womb can carry a Kuczynski. Despite the fact that all the involved genetic material came from Alex and her husband, surrogate mother Cathy's husband's college degree comes up as an important factor. As does the couple's "renovated mill house on a creek in a suburb of Philadelphia."
Things went sour when Cathy went to Las Vegas, and the unborn baby learned the horrors of commercial air travel and gambling, but everything turned out fine in the end, and they have a beautiful baby boy with a slightly ridiculous inherited name (Maxime), and good for them. Alex still has terrible nightmares about how she didn't deliver the baby all by herself, but hey, at least it is genetically the product of her and her husband, and not some dumb adopted baby.