There was a woman in my mom’s group that I became close to. We were all undergoing assisted reproductive methods of varying degrees and gave birth to our children during a four month period in 2004.
This woman was not typical in our group. She was actively being treated for cancer and used a surrogate to conceive and birth the boy/girl twins she left as a legacy for her husband. She was anxious about having to wear a head covering to hide her hair loss in the delivery room.
It came to pass that she died when the twins were about two years old. The couple bought a house directly across the street from the one the twins lived in to buffer them from some of the most distressing aspects of her dying.
It is fair to ask – What does it mean to create new life when one parent is dying?
The reality is that there are countless parents who don’t live to see their children grow up, but most of those tales involve unforeseen tragedy. Among my own acquaintances two other women have died of the complications of cancer after giving birth to children that are left to their husbands to raise.
In the face of a certain ending, some couples chose to create a beginning. The number of people who confront this exact extraordinary convergence of birth and death is small enough that no one knows precisely how many are out there. There are outliers facing terminal illness who have forged ahead with plans to have children.
Perhaps I know more of them than most people do. Because of my own circumstances of conception and the circumstances of my parents’ conceptions that ended their parental relationships by their becoming adopted, I have developed a different philosophical view that also does not deny a woman’s right to choose.
That right is very broad in my own perspective – not only to choose to conceive by whatever method is available to any individual woman but to choose not to carry a pregnancy she doesn’t want to invest herself in. It is a brave new world and the rules are changing.