Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology

By Jane Haynes; Juliet Miller | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Seth

Flora Scrimgeour

Flora Scrimgeour is a barrister and lives in London with her partner and two children.

Seth doesn't seem a particularly inconceivable person. I suppose in our eyes he has left his strange beginnings behind, although when he was born I do remember other people's, not always well-disguised, shock that a Frankenstein's monster was so ordinary and sweet. I suppose from our point of view he was as ordinary as we could manage, the product of quite extreme pressures, great generosity and desperate improvisation.

In the 1970s my notion of women's liberation was that it would free women of the family ties and obligations that had suffocated so many of the mothers of my generation in the 1950s. It's been a strange spiritual journey through the 1990s, most of which I spent in a frantic quest for a family, any old family, just so long as it did entail all that suffocating obligation I so envied in all the parents I knew.

It may sound like a tall story coming from someone who went to the extremes that we did to have a baby, but although in the end we embarked on this genetic love story with my sister, for me it was not mainly a drama about a genetic inheritance, it was much more about a stake in the future, in the form of children to rear.

Emma, my sister, was born almost exactly five years after me, and I can remember the day of her birth. My memory is that it came as a complete surprise that our mum was going to have another baby, but I expect I just blanked out her earlier announcements in horror at the prospect of yet another rival. Emma was the last of five, and it was routine in our family for the existing siblings to attempt to kill the new one. I think we filled Emma's pram with earth, but that was later. I was happy on the day of her birth as someone had knitted a mustard-coloured garment for my doll, and I fancied that a sister would be a useful ally against three brothers. My unattractively regal reaction on the day was, 'What a treat for me', and so it proved, though not until we were both much older. In fact I was 20 before our sisterhood came good, but then it really did.

We are very different. Emma is creative, expansive, generous and sociable, whereas I chose to be a lawyer-for which I am sufficiently dogmatic, aggressive, and self-important. Emma had babies years before I contemplated it. I was very moved by her boys, and by her tigerish and selfless devotion to them, but I felt no twinge of envy when they were born. My then cohabitee was not a promising candidate for fatherhood, and the 1980s were an exciting time to be a dissident

-109-

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Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Fertility Clinic 11
  • Experiencing Infertility 17
  • Chapter 3 - Clinical Waste 19
  • Chapter 4 - One Man's Story 27
  • Psychological Aspects 31
  • Chapter 5 - Eros and Art 33
  • Notes 45
  • Chapter 6 - Mourning the Never Born and the Loss of the Angel 47
  • Chapter 7 - The Battle with Mortality and the Urge to Procreate 60
  • Bibliography 72
  • Chapter 8 - Myths and Reality in Male Infertility 73
  • Bibliography 84
  • Chapter 9 - Love, Hate and the Generative Couple 86
  • Changing Patterns of Kinship 103
  • Chapter 10 - The Story of Seth's Egg 105
  • Chapter 11 - Seth 109
  • Chapter 12 - Gifts of Life in Absentia 120
  • Chapter 13 - Women's Work 143
  • Bibliography 165
  • Chapter 14 - Egg Donation 166
  • The Shadow 179
  • Chapter 15 - Dark Reflections 181
  • Afterword 205
  • Chapter 16 - Afterword 207
  • Appendix 217
  • Glossary of Terms Used in Art (Assisted Reproductive Technology) 219
  • Index 227
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