Happy 30th Birthday, Louise Brown

Today is the 30th birthday of Louise Brown, the world's first "test tube baby." Born in a U.K. hospital in 1978, Louise was a miracle of science. Her mother underwent egg retrieval, and her doctors were able to retrieve only a single egg for fertilization. They transferred it back to her uterus, and Lesley Brown became pregnant. While another woman had became pregnant from IVF just a few short years prior, her pregnancy sadly ended as an ectopic. But Lesley Brown carried to term, and her little girl Louise was born nine months later.

As someone who struggled for two years to conceive, I owe Lesley Brown's doctors a debt of gratitude. Doctor Edwards and Doctor Steptoe and their team fought tirelessly for years to perfect IVF, to make parents out of couples who so desperately longed for a child, despite growing pressure from a number of groups and the media to end their reproductive research. 30 years ago today, they succeeded, and now millions of parents all over the world, including me, reap the benefits of their courage.
Lesley Brown and her husband also deserve thanks, for their strength and willingness to take part in an as-yet-unsuccessful medical procedure. Pioneers often take on a great deal of criticism when their choices buck the moires of the established culture, and I'm sure it wasn't easy for them to decide to undergo IVF when so many were calling for an end to their doctors' research.

Today, IVF is still a lightening rod issue. I have no problem telling anyone how Isabella was conceived, or how I came to be pregnant with twins, but it's clear from the reactions I receive that not everyone believes in medical intervention to achieve pregnancy. People tend to have very strong opinions on the topic, opinions based on moral values, or on the belief that infertile couples seeking years of treatment as I did should instead "just adopt," an idea I find hard to swallow based on its belittling characterization of adoption, the belief that it's somehow easier than infertility treatment (it isn't), and that babies are immediately available for anyone who wants one (they're not). The audacity of anyone telling another person how to build her family is pretty repulsive to me as well.
My daughter is an IVF baby. The twins I'm carrying are too. I will never, ever forget this fact, or take for granted how very lucky I was (twice over), nor will I forget the two dark years I waited for what I thought I would never have. IVF made me a mom once, and God-willing, I'll be a mother to two more sometime this fall. Thank you, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe, and Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Without you, I wouldn't have this little face to wake up to each morning.

And happy 30th birthday, Louise.

13 Responses to “Happy 30th Birthday, Louise Brown”

  1. # Anonymous Ness

    Personally when it comes to issues that people have with IVF, I think they honestly need to shut their yaps. Medical science has progressed and without it, millions of us would not exist. Not necessarily because of IVF, but because of other ailments that normally would have knocked out half the human race before the age of 5. Show me those people again, who conceived and delivered naturally, who faced with a (childs) life threatening condition wouldn't do everything possible (even experimental if necessary) to save their child. Yeah - that's the shoe on the other foot, fits doesn't it? Blech. People suck sometimes.  

  2. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I'd never even heard of Louise. Very interesting!

    We're very private about our IVF...not embarrassed by any means...just private for reasons I won't go into here, so I've never had to deal with anyone's judgment. It's probably a good thing too, as I have a big mouth and would probably get myself in trouble often.  

  3. # Blogger Mom24

    I think Louse was a miracle and your three definitely are too. Great tribute.  

  4. # Blogger Riley & Tiki

    This makes me feel old. Okay, I'm 38, but I do remember all the fuss over the 1st test tube baby.

    People who have issues with IVF or whatever other means people use to acquire children or not acquire children need to mind their own business.

    R&T Mom  

  5. # Blogger Editorgirl

    Kristi - what a wonderful post. I wish everyone had the same regard for Brown that you do! Have a great weekend!  

  6. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Louise is very close to my age (5 days apart I believe) so I've always felt kind of close to her, although I obviously never knew her. This was a very thoughtful post, and I'm sorry that people feel the need to force their opinions and beliefs on you. It's such a sensitive subject and sometimes the most insensitive and uneducated have the most to say, unfortunately.
    Your daughter is precious, and it's wonderful that modern science and brave people made it possible for her to be here.  

  7. # Blogger Jesser

    I just don't understand the logic behind IVF haters. Your babies are lovely ... and conceived in the way that worked for you. I don't know why people have to have an OPINION on everything...  

  8. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    Eeks! I almost began crying. I'm kinda emotional today!!!???

    IVF is such a mind-blowing and awesome procedure, and I am so thankful we live in a time when wanting and deserving couples have the option and ability to expand their family.

    And again, I am so very happy for you!  

  9. # Anonymous Lisanne

    Happy birthday to her, and yes, it's SUCH an amazing thing what doctors and medical science can do!!!  

  10. # Blogger Damselfly

    How nice of you to remember. I can't believe it's been 30 years.

    Did you hear Angelina Jolie may have used IVF to have her twins?  

  11. # Blogger Christine

    Just wanted to chime in on a lovely post.

    Also, your daughter is too freakin' cute.  

  12. # Blogger Marie

    Wow, I remember when her birth was the big news! 30 years??! Happy birthday to Louise!  

  13. # Blogger Tracey

    I'm with Ness. For what it's worth, I personally wouldn't be around without medical intervention. Something as simple as my mother's Rh factor...

    If someone wants to get religious about conception, I would recommend that they acknowledge the idea that God may STILL have a hand in what medical interventions we are "allowed" to explore.  

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