Recently, BossLady and I have been having discussions on when we will start trying for "L'enfant: Part Deux." While we certainly want another child, we're having a blast with the Peanut right now. At 7-months old, she's an adorably fun-loving child who loves nothing more than spending lots of time with her parents. She's socially well-adjusted and is really thriving due to all the time that we spend together. So the reality of the situation is that if we had another child right now, that would mean far less quality time spent with the Peanut.
So BossLady and I have come to the conclusion that we'll start trying again towards the end of next year. Ideally, we'd like the Peanut to be about three years old when her younger sibling comes along. We're both comfortable with that scenario and, due to other ongoing events in our life, personally feel that it will work out the best for us.
But recently, an interesting curveball was thrown in our direction. We found out that two college friends of mine from California who have a son and, like us, are only planning on having one other child, enlisted the services of a reproductive technology company to increase the odds that their second child will be a girl. The technology uses a laser to separate sperm cells by size (X-chromosome cells are larger.) So far, the technology has had a 91 percent success rate in sorting for girls, and close to 75 percent for boys. In fact, if using IVF-PGD embryo selection, the chances that a resulting birth will be of the gender selected approach 100%. I won't go into all the scientific research involved in the procedure but if you want to learn more, check out this link.
Obviously, this is a fairly controversial subject. There are so many dimensions to this issue that I'm not even going to try and address all of them. But as a friend of mine said recently, "it all sounds so Gattaca!" And in a way, I agree with him. On the one hand, I don't think gender selection, in and of itself, is anywhere near as controversial a subject as stem cell research, human cloning or the selling of human embryos; in many ways, gender selection is just another amazing development in reproductive medicine and follows the path laid down by test-tube babies, donor eggs, and surrogate motherhood. I also don't think being able to choose a child's gender necessarily means that we're leading down a path where parents will select children based on predicted intelligence, athletic ability, musical talent, or personality tendencies.
But on the other hand, I do think that we all need to think about the ramifications involved here. The FDA has determined gender selection technology to be on par with IVF and has announced their intention to monitor this technology rigorously to ensure that it only be used for gender selection purposes. And I'm glad to see that those practicing this technology are also attempting to self-regulate themselves. In fact, the technology is not readily available for everyone. There are limitations. For now, one can only be a viable candidate if the family is seeking "gender balance." In other words, you can't choose to have a boy if you already have 2 boys. Furthermore, pregnancies are not allowed to be terminated in the event that your child is not of the preferred gender.
So where does that leave me and the BossLady? Honestly speaking, we don't know. The concept is still so foreign to us that we're learning more about it every day. And personally, if nature took its course and we ended up having another girl, I wouldn't mind at all having two daughters. Sure, I'd be outnumbered 3-1 by the women in the household but the most important thing to me is having two healthy, well-adjusted children. But, at the same time, I won't deny that there's a small part of me that would like to have a son. I'm sure my shrink would say that this stems from the male ego's need to create miniaturized versions of their idealized self. But really? It's more due to the fact that I think it would be great to have one boy and one girl. It's a nice balance that I think it makes for a good family dynamic.
Besides, every culture has their own old wives tale for pre-selecting gender. When BossLady and I first started trying to get her pregnant, we heard a ton of them. To ensure a boy, the father was supposed to drink a lot of Pepsi while the mother ate only salty snacks. Alternatively, you could make love under a full moon after ingesting three cups of coffee each. If you wanted a girl, the woman was supposed to gorge herself on chocolate and both partners should eat lots of fish and veggies. Then, there were the myriad of ideas about sexual position. If you wanted a boy, you should make love standing up. If you wanted a girl, try the missionary position. Sounds funny and antiquated, doesn't it? But honestly, I know quite a few people who have tried all of these ideas. But now, science has presented us with the ability to do more than wishful thinking.
Like I said, I'm intrigued by the idea. At first glance, I don't think I have any moral or ethical compunctions about the concept of gender selection. Whether BossLady and I decide to do it or not will be our own personal choice. But I'm curious to hear what other people think about it. For you, is it a medically unethical decision? Does gender selection conflict with your religion? Do you think it's merely another technological advance that improves our lives? Are we headed down a dangerous path? Is this just another advancement in reproductive science? Or is it all just much ado about nothing?