储藏未来孩子的冰箱 The ‘Storage’ of Future Babies

[Picture above (from Toronto Star) : A vat of liquid nitrogen holds embryos donated to LifeQuest Reproductive Centre (Toronto) Medicine for research. Similar containers will soon hold the eggs of young women who want to preserve their fertility.]

(Dear English readers, please scroll down for English translation)

前阵子,在Toronto Star报章读到一篇题为《Babies of the Ice Age》的文章。主要内容是 – 现在的最新科技可以为女性“储存”她们的卵子,以延长生育期。卵子可以在还年轻时从体内“抽出”,放进上图装有氮的容器内。氮可以有效地将卵子保持于健康状态。等到女性想要生育时,才拿出来受孕。就如将食物放进冰箱以保持新鲜。

文中提到,加拿大许多现代女性用她们最茂盛的生育时期(20至30岁)来追求教育和事业。可是, 她们的卵巢却随时间渐渐地退化。国家内15至49的女性平均只生育1.5个孩子,不能为国家维持所需要的人口(2.1个)。以前,这种科技用来帮助有疾病不能生育的女性。现在,可能可以开放给其他想要迟些生育的女性。希望这种新科技可以为职业女性和国家带来新希望。

另一篇文章题为《My Life first, babies second》的作者说,她自小被鼓励要努力读书,赚钱, 才有出人头地的一天。她不想靠男人。加上,现在生活水平高,要养育很贵。所以-my life first, babie second.

身为女性, 读了这些文章总令我感慨万千。不知我到底该如何….思考这个问题…

社会进化,女性抬头,教育, 事业,金钱….都要。 因为现代女性认为,如果没有完成自己的梦想,即有孩子,也未必快乐。等到什么都拥有了,想要有孩子时,已错过了生育的机会。很多女性因此耿耿于怀或到时才来后悔。在澳洲和加拿大,很多人为此求医,如人工受孕(IVF)。

记得读过另一篇题为《Buying Babies, bits by bits》的文章。文中提到,现在约有三百万的人是在实验室“做成”的,即IVF。 在做 IVF的过程中,如夫妇不孕,可以“买”其他人的卵子或精子。有些较有钱的还可以选择某种特征的精子或卵子。 如妻子身体不适怀孕,还可以“请”其他女性担起十月怀胎的责任。

从另一方面看,有许多女性想要有孩子,却寻寻觅觅也遇不到心上人。因此,在西方国家流行单亲母亲。 可是, 如没有好的经济能力,一个人怎能支撑得住。所以,也被逼先努力赚钱。或有些丈夫(暂)不要孩子,女性想要有孩子也难。等到时机对时,却已太迟了。


说了那么多,我想没什么对或错的。只是,有时在想,是我们这一代人太自私吗?还是被大环境所逼? 不知,我们生出来的下一代会如何想呢?不知有没有专家研究过 -这样来“储存”精子或卵子会对下一代有何间接的负面影响?

还有,很不公平的是, 男性的生育期比女性长很多。没有这种顾虙,可以专心事业。有钱了,虽较老了,还可以娶个年轻的妻子来生孩子。我不是女权主义者,可是想到这里,最后还是女性要做出较痛苦的抉择,或较大的牺牲。

A couple of weeks ago, I found an interesting article – <Babies of the Ice Age> in Toronto Star newspaper. The following are few points I like : –

“About a dozen freezing vats hold the seeds of future people at the LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine in downtown Toronto.These temporary wombs are refreshed with liquid nitrogen twice a day, keeping sperm and pre-defined cells in a cold, quiet and indefinite stasis.

………………..No time is the right time for a baby, but those vats of nitrogen in the fertility clinic may hold hope for young women who want to pursue careers and education, but fear that their ovaries are being placed in peril by the passage of time.

The term “frozen eggs” has long been the punch line for jokes about single women. But they could soon be a promising alternative for working women in this country, where the fertility rate hovers at about 1.5 children born to women aged 15 to 49 – less than the 2.1 needed to maintain the population.

Statistics Canada says that as a woman becomes more educated, she becomes less likely to have children. Women now spend their 20s and 30s – the most fertile years – trying to get an education and start a career. It’s a trend that’s likely to continue as more young women enter the workforce and university enrolment rates continue to hit consecutive all-time highs.

“But on the biological side, women realize that the older they get, the less likely it is that they will conceive,” says Dr. Ken Cadesky, the medical director at Lifequest Reproductive Centre in Toronto. He adds that a woman without a life partner, or little means to support herself, is in a reduced position to raise a child, but “you never know when biology, career and education are going to intersect. There isn’t a right time.”……………………”

In the same issue, there was another article titled <My life first, babies second>. The author said she was raised to be hardworking, and to pursue education and career. She does not want to rely on man financially too. The living cost is so high now that to have a baby has become extremely expensive. Hence, her motto is- to focus on her own life first and think about baby later.

As a female myself, articles like these always caused complicated feelings in my heart.

The society has changed and the females are pursuing their own educations and careers more than ever. Many of them reckon they won’t be happy if they have babies without accomplishing their personal dreams first. Unfortunately, by the time they get what they want in life, they already miss the chance of having a baby. Many Australians and Canadians are seeking medical help, eg IVF.

There was a article titled <Buying babies, bits by bits> are exploring this issue where there are three millions of people are ‘made’ in laboratory with assistance of doctors and nurses, instead of the traditional way ie ‘making in the bedroom’. For couples who are infertile, they can ‘purchase’ sperms or eggs from others. For those who can afford more, they can even choose sperms or eggs with particular characteristics they desired. For women who have troubles carrying the baby, they can ‘ask’ for help from other women to carry the baby, aka pregnancy for ten months, for them.

On the other hand, there are also many women who want to have children but can’t meet the Mr Right, hence choose to be a single mother. However, it is not difficult to imagine the hardships the women have to endure to raise the child by herself, not to mention the financial difficulties. Therefore, many women possibly forced to work even harder to earn more money before they choose this path. There are also many husbands or partners who dont’ want baby (yet). When the men think is the right time, it is already too late for the women.

I guess there are many women are relieved to know that there is such technology can help them to preserve their fertility. Although there is only 25% success rate, at least they have the options or choices now. I personally also believe Chinese medicine can contribute in this area. I have heard many successful stories with Chinese Medicine.

I guess, at the end of day, there is no right or wrong, or the best solution. However, sometimes, I wonder if this is because we, this generation, are too selfish? Or is it caused by the societal and economic systems now ? What would our future generations think of this ? I wonder if the experts have studied the indirect long term ‘side effects’ to the growth of the children born from the frozen sperms or eggs ?

In addition, it is also unfair to realise that men have much longer period of fertility than women. Without such worries, they can focus on their careers easier. They might be a bit older but they would have much money then, at that time, they could easily meet a younger woman to have a family together. I am not a feminist but when I think of this, women are still the one who have to make difficult decision or have to sacrifice more.







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