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Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – August 7, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0374147570 ISBN-10: 0374147574

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1978, there was one successful in-vitro fertilization baby; less than 30 years later, "more than a million" IVF children have been born worldwide. Kohl, mother of three IVF babies, has wrestled with the questions people contemplating or experiencing IVF suffer through ("Are science-babies exactly like the traditional kind?"; "How far should we go to ensure that our investment of time, emotion, and money yield a healthy baby?"; "So who am I to tinker with God's Plan and/or Mother Nature?") and the dilemmas associated with multifetal pregnancies and frozen embryos. While leading the reader step-by- step in a leisurely meander through her own successful experience, Kohl informs the naïve ("Ovaries are a woman's primary reproductive organs and the warehouse for her lifetime supply of eggs"), shares the physical ("I inject Lupron into my thigh"), drops in the technical and statistical, addresses public policy issues ("how public schools... accommodate these children, some of whom have special needs as a result of their low-birth weights") and enters the religious and political debates concerning artificial reproductive therapy. In this insightful and honest narrative, Kohl shares her experience and offers comfort and companionship for readers dealing with physical challenges, personal and marital stress, and ambivalent answers to heavy questions. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

Until a few decades ago, making a baby was a highly intimate act involving two people. It's still intimate but can involve dozens of people within a decidedly public arena. Some might shy from such an open—in the most embarrassing sense of the word—procedure. Yes, procedure, for as Kohl compellingly and mindfully reports, making a baby these days may take several physically and emotionally invasive, to say nothing of expensive, procedures. Adapting her journal from the time she learned that a decade of taking birth control pills had been unnecessary to the births of her three daughters, she lays bare her angst over such artificial means of facilitating procreation. Does God frown upon this? Are artificially procreated children marked or damaged in some unseen way? Might they be subject to discrimination in the future? She also discusses the inevitable stress brought upon her and her husband during the often unsuccessful, hope-charged, and time-consuming processes they endured. Chavez, Donna

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374147574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374147570
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,315,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By anon on August 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Beth Kohl has done a marvelous job making the reader feel as if he or she is a silent observer of the long road to parenthood that she and her husband traveled. From the nitty gritty of IVF to the scary parts of pregnancy to the humor of it all, Beth gives us a rare window into her journey to parenthood. She also outlines and discusses many of the legal, moral and ethical issues raised by IVF and other reproductive technologies, and shares her views on these issues. An excellent read for anyone who is a parent or might become one !
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elevate Difference on September 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With Embryo Culture, we welcome a thinking woman's guide to the experience of undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Like the recent Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein, it is a personal account of overcoming infertility that covers the attendant marital tension, feelings of frustration and inadequacy, and the ups and downs of medical intervention.

Perhaps more interestingly, however, this is also a comprehensive rundown of the soul searching and philosophical speculation that accompanies IVF for the patient, supplemented by facts, statistics and compelling cultural analysis. Kohl deftly leads us through religious attitudes; the ethics, risks and rewards of tampering with nature; and whether IVF represents a symptom of Western consumerist excess when there are so many children awaiting adoption. While the writing about her personal experiences sometimes includes random and artless tangents, Kohl's writing is at its best during the quasi-journalistic, philosophical and analytical passages.

Unfortunately, the book does not offer a feminist perspective on women's quest for meaning through parenthood. Kohl laments, "With my polycystic ovaries, I worried I was doomed to a depthless life, and that I'd die with my mothering strength un-tapped and my life purpose unfulfilled." She does not question the non-biological programming that may be in part responsible for feelings of inadequacy related to her infertility, or prompt herself to examine why an educated and accomplished woman might feel doomed to a "depthless life" without children.
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