Cameron Diaz became a mom at 47, and fans want to know how - Insider
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Cameron Diaz had a baby at 47, and she doesn't owe us an explanation of how she did it

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Cameron Diaz announced the birth of her daughter, Raddix, on Friday.
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When Cameron Diaz announced the birth of her daughter, Raddix, at 47, I couldn't help asking: How?

So did many members of my online infertility support groups.

"Not that it matters," one poster on Facebook wrote in response to Diaz's news, "but she doesn't say if it was natural, through egg donation, surrogacy or adoption."

People in the infertility community are divided on the issue. There are those who say we should just shut up and be happy for any woman who has a child, no matter how she reaches that point. Then there are those who want access to the nitty-gritty details — specifically, the genetic details of this achievement. Not because we're gossips, but because we just want to know if it's possible. Can someone in their late 40s really have a baby with their own eggs? We just want hope.

When Cameron Diaz announced the birth of her baby at 47, some struggling with infertility wanted her to explain how

As for me, I'm torn.

On the one hand, it's none of my business how celebrities live their lives — especially when it comes to their children, who didn't ask to be born into the limelight. Why should I be privy to a child's genetics, more specifically if their parents used third-party reproduction, such as someone else's eggs, sperm, embryos or, in the case of a surrogate, a uterus? On the other hand, shouldn't public figures be honest about their baby-making so as not to give women everywhere false hope?

When I started fertility treatment at 41, I was woefully ignorant about my reproductive capabilities (I mostly knew how not to get pregnant). I'd had two failed pregnancies already, but I figured with a little medical help, I could carry a baby to term.

I thought I had plenty of time. Look at celebrities like Halle Berry (who had her second child at 46), Laura Linney (she gave birth at 49), and Janet Jackson (the singer had her first child at 50). I was practically a baby myself!

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson gave birth to her first child at age 50.
Francois Nel/Getty Images

I did not know that a woman's fertility dips precipitously at 41 and almost entirely by 44. (Especially for a first-time mother, and one seeking fertility treatment.) I had never heard of getting donor eggs from a younger woman to create a child, or that many older women over 44 used them to have children.

No one ever talked about it.

When I went through IVF in my early 40s, doctors finally explained the process

It was only when I started IVF at 42, after a year of failed turkey-baster IUIs, that doctors explained the process to me. "Not every woman you see on the cover of a magazine is using her own eggs," one of my fertility doctors said.

She explained donor eggs could help older women, younger women with "bad" eggs, women who had many failed rounds of IVF, and sometimes women with repeat miscarriages, have a baby.

After all, it's primarily the age of the eggs, not that of the woman and her uterus, which determines a successful pregnancy. (This is where egg freezing comes in. It allows an "older" woman to work with her own, younger eggs during IVF.)

donor eggs
When the author Amy Klein started going through IVF in her early 40s, she wasn't even aware that using donor eggs was an option.
Getty

But there are downsides to using donor eggs, including the fact that the baby does not carry your genes.

Throughout my IVF journey I was confident I would be able to use my own eggs. After all, I kept getting pregnant. By the time I was 43, with three miscarriages under my belt, doctors told me to genetically test my embryos to find one that was chromosomally normal so I could have a baby.

None were normal.

People always told me, "If you want to be a mother, you'll be a mother — some way."

But back then I did not want to be a mother "some way." I wanted to be a mother my way.

I accepted that my baby would be created in a lab, but I wanted my baby to carry my genes

I had already given up on unassisted conception, and had come to terms with the idea that my baby was going to be created in a lab. And yet I so wanted this baby to carry my genes. That wasn't going to happen.

I was almost 44, and if I wanted to be a mother, the solution, they said, was donor eggs.

"The choice is not between your eggs and donor eggs," one friend who used donor eggs said. "It's do you want to be a mother or not?"

I wanted to be a mother.

And I was going to admit how.

As a writer chronicling my journey for The New York Times in a Fertility Diary column, I'd vowed from the beginning that however I got pregnant, with whomever's sperm, eggs, embryos, or womb, I would disclose it.

I would not be one of those beaming pregnant celebrities keeping mum and unintentionally misleading the public about how they got pregnant. I was a journalist. I would be honest. I would not give struggling women everywhere false hope about the chances of having a baby with your own eggs when you're older and unable. I was going to lay it all out there.

I initially didn't want to reveal the details of my pregnancy

Pregnant
When I decided to use donor eggs, I vowed to be honest about the decision.
Cavan Images/Getty Images

But after I got pregnant and stayed pregnant, no small feat for a woman who had four miscarriages, I had second thoughts.

When I was in my second trimester, and it really seemed as if it might stick this time, I wanted to tell my readers and friends I was pregnant. But as I sat down to write, I balked. I did not want to write that I had used donor eggs.

See, when it had been just an idea in my mind, it seemed like the responsible thing to do, to be public about it. But now there was an actual fetus inside me, a soon-to-be baby. Well, that was a different story. It was her story. Did I really want the whole world knowing her business before she did? Shouldn't I be allowed to have privacy? (Not secrecy, we always planned on telling her!)

I was worried about the backlash of disclosing the details

Besides, I was afraid of the trolls. Many hadn't been so kind to me simply for trying to be a mother at an older age. "Should We Really Be Sympathetic to a 42-Year-Old's Fertility Struggles?" a Babble.com writer asked in a column, eviscerating my reproductive decisions.

Women are regularly castigated for their choices. If we have babies too young, without proper support, we're irresponsible. If we wait to get our career and partnership in place, we're "selfish career women."

And if we use IVF? Oy vey.

Consider the model Chrissy Teigen, who is open about everything on Twitter, including needing IVF.

When she and her husband, John Legend, opted to transfer a girl embryo first, they were accused by the Twitter mob of "gender selection." Most people don't realize that when you genetically test your embryos, you also find out the sex of the embryos and can decide which to put in, which is different from doing testing only to find the sex you want.

Chrissy Teigen John Legend pregnant
Even the model Chrissy Teigen was attacked online after she opened up about her IVF journey.
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

If near-perfect Teigen got pilloried for standard IVF, what would happen to others acknowledging the use of third-party reproduction? We would be opening ourselves and our lives up to the ignorant masses.

When I finally announced my pregnancy in The New York Times, in a piece titled "Still Pregnant But Stuck in the Past," I subtly alluded to the fact I'd used donor eggs. I did it in a way that only those going through fertility treatment would realize. Maybe I chickened out. But it's not really my story, anymore. It's my daughter's.

Still, these days I mention it when relevant, like if I'm counseling someone about fertility. I don't want them to have unrealistic expectations, thinking that if I got pregnant at 44 so can they.

(One of the oldest IVF patients documented in the US got pregnant with her own eggs at 48. It's possible, but not likely.)

Otherwise, I barely mention donor eggs. This fact is simply not relevant: I carried my daughter since she was a 5-day-old embryo, gestated her pregnancy for 41 weeks (stubborn little sucker!) nursed her for 18 months, and have let her see "Frozen II" three times.

I am her mother, and that's all anyone but her needs to know.

So I understand celebrities' reluctance to disclose how they had their children, and I'm happy for them.

I also wish we could all be a little more honest about everything — IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, surrogacy — and that we lived in a world where none of it mattered.

More: Parenting parenting freelance Freelancer Cameron Diaz
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