Alexis Stewart Wants To Be a Mother

alexis and martha stewart

Martha Stewart‘s daughter, Alexis, who many of you may remember from The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (if you watched), really wants to have a baby but it has been difficult. Here’s the story

In the newest issue of People, Alexis Stewart, 41, daughter of author, editor and homemaking advocate, Martha Stewart, 65, shares her struggle to have a baby. In her own words, Alexis begins her story.

“I wanted a baby when I was 37. But when my mother got into trouble, I couldn’t think about it. About two years ago, after all that was over, I got back on track.

I’m single now, but having my own kid is the most important thing in my life, so I am trying everything I can: fancy doctors, expensive drugs, high-tech procedures. Most people can’t afford what I am doing, I am really lucky; I know that.

I also know it would have been infinitely easier if I’d tried to get pregnant when I was married. But my ex and I were completely ambivalent about kids. We weren’t ready.

Now, I no longer have the luxury of having doubts. A child is your legacy. What better thing can you do in life than put a really good person in the world who’s going to make it a better place?

And my mom’s just desperate. She has wanted grandchildren forever. Forever! She’s always like, ‘For my birthday, I would like you to be pregnant.’ And I’m like, ‘Me too!’

My gynecologist always said, ‘Oh, I had my first kid at 40,’ so I never panicked. I actually thought it would just take a couple of months to get pregnant and then I’d be done.

But I’ve learned a few things people should know. Take all these movie stars we see on magazine covers who are having babies in their 40s. If you say to a fertility doctor, ‘So-and-so just had twins at 45, he’ll tell you bluntly, ‘It’s not her egg.’

But no one says that in these articles. They don’t even say, ‘It’s an exception’ or ‘It’s very rare to have a baby in your mid-40s.’ Instead, everyone acts like it’s normal. And that creates unrealistic expectations.

You know whose picture you don’t see? The movie star in her 40s who didn’t have the baby. I don’t think a lot of women know how much their chances of having a child diminish as they age.

Woman also don’t know that once you turn 40, a lot of fertility clinics won’t even talk to you. They’re like ‘Hmm, we can’t help you, you’re too old.’ The first place I went to cost $10,000 a month and came highly recommended. But, like a lot of fertility clinics, they’re very worried about keeping their success rates high.

When I didn’t respond to the drugs after three months, they basically said, ‘Don’t bother,’ and kept asking, ‘Why don’t you use a donor egg?’ Finally, I said, ‘You’re fired.’

Since December, I’ve been going to the New York Fertility Institute in Manhattan. The drugs cost $6,000, the doctors and in vitro fertilization procedures about $20,000 to $27,000 — a month.

They give me, like, eight times as many drugs than the other place did to stimulate egg production, then check me every two to four days.

I take two shots a day. Most of my friends freak out about the shots, and leave the room in tears. But if you don’t look, it doesn’t hurt. Twice, I’ve given myself shots on the street. I’m much more interested in taking my medication than in what anyone might think about me.

Once a month, I inject myself with a drug that causes me to ovulate in 36 hours. Just before the 36 hours are up, I go to the doctor’s office and they put me under anesthesia and use an 18-inch needle to remove about 10 eggs. Then, I go home to my apartment in Tribeca, change and get ready for my Sirius Radio Show, Whatever, that I co-host at 5 p.m.

The doctor, meanwhile, fertilizes the eggs right away, using a technique called ICSI [intra cytoplasmic sperm injection], which involves poking a hole in each egg and shoving a sperm in to create an embryo.

I’m using an anonymous donor, but not from a ‘genius’ bank. Those are creepy.

After the doctor conducts an embryo biopsy for Down syndrome and the myriad of other things you might find around the three-month pregnancy mark, he says, “Eight out of 10 are not healthy” or whatever.

Then, he tries to [transfer] the healthy embryos. I’ve had two transfers; they haven’t stuck.

Last month after my egg retrieval, the clinic left a phone message saying I should call. They were going to tell me how many embryos were healthy. I never did. I could wait a week for my next appointment to find out.

When it may be just another emotional blow, I sometimes don’t need to know right away; knowing won’t change it. If there are not healthies, I try to let it go immediately, because you can go crazy. Crazy.

But I’m not even close to stopping. I’m trying to build up a supply of healthy embryos because ideally, I’d love to have two kids.

I tell people who are 40, or ever 35, if you have the money, freeze your eggs, or better yet, embryos. If you don’t have a husband, get an anonymous donor. That way, if you never find Mr. Perfect, you have options.

As for me, it doesn’t hurt my body to keep trying. And if it doesn’t work? I’ll worry about that if and when the time comes.

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    • Vivian

      Suzanne,

      I have been reading these posts with an open mind and trying to embrace and respect all of the views and opinions that were given. I must say though Suzanne your post really brought me to tears. At 33 I found out that it was going to be not be able to have children “naturally” and my husband and I decided to go through invitro. To make a long story short after all was said and done there were only three embryos. We decided to implant all three we did not know if we would have twins, triplets, etc. I just prayed and asked GOD for a healthy child. Well, today we are the proud parents of a beautiful 4 year old little boy who has Down Syndrome. There is absolutely nothing “abnormal” about him. He is very active, he reads, swims, rides his bike, laughs, hurts cries like all children. He has a smile that is infectious and he has brought so much joy into our families lives. I can’t imagine chosing to terminating my pregnancy because of his diagnosis. How do you go through the whole process of invitro and have the chance to have a child but because it is not “perfect” you choose not to. I guess what really disturbs me (and if I am wrong please forgive me) is that you insuate that having DS is such a bad thing. I believe what you have said is very insensitive since there are people with DS who live very productive lives they go to college and work just like you and me. We are not “lucky” but very blessed to have our son in our lives.

      I do realize that it was your decision not to have these embryos implanted and I do not judge you. I would ask you not do make such generalizations as to what is normal or abnormal because it is very hard not to take offense. My son is a child first who happens to have Down Syndrome.

    • Deb

      I am writing because so many of the comments have been disturbing to me in so many ways. As a mother of 3 BEAUTIFUL and HEALTHY children I cannot imagine deciding if I wanted them if they were not my definition of normal. I had my first child at 34, my second at 37 and my third at 40. In none of these pregnancies was screening for “normals” an option for me. I wanted children and I wanted what God’s plan was for me. I now have a 7 year old son, a 4 year old daughter and a 19 mo old daughter….who happens to have Down Syndrome. Did I cry when I was told she had Downs in the hospital. I won’t lie…yes I did. But in only 19 mos I have come to realize that those tears were not needed. Samantha is healthy and happy and shows us more love and affection than anyone I have ever seen. My other 2 children embrace her with a kind of acceptance and love that you rarely see in siblings. They also so such an outpour of love for other children with special needs.

      Will my daughter ever drive? Will she go to college? I don’t know these answers. Am I guaranteed these answers with Joey and Kerilyn??? There are no written guarantees stamped on our children’s butts. And they certainly aren’t stamped on your “normals” that you speak of. What’s to say they won’t have autism or ADHD or depression or have eating disorders….should I go on? Are these things detected in your “normals”? Does this mean you will not want them?

      My prayer is that one day a mother who’s child is born with Down Syndrome will not cry, but will embrace her newborn as any other and realize what a gift she has been given. ALL children are gifts from God and ALL children deserve to be given the chance to show the world what they can do. Watch out! Because my little Sami is going to be out there showing off her talents in no time and I’m going to be right there beside her….just as I will with her brother and sister!

    • Lora

      WOW, it is obvious this is a topic about which many have very definite views. After reading Jessica’s post a week or so ago, I wanted to respond but didn’t know how to word my response. Now, I feel even more strongly about responding so here it goes…

      First, I think that people (and obviously fertility doctors) need to be educated about using terminology that is less harsh and less offensive. Think about it “normals”, “healthy”, “abnormal”-how demeaning. The more acceptable terms for children are “typically developing” and a “child with a disability, or a child with Down syndrome-the emphasis should always be on the child, not the disability. So, how about saying “typically developing eggs” vs. “atypically developing eggs”-much less harsh. Semantics, yes, but also much more…..

      Another semantic, saying you want a child more than anything is great. However, if you are prescreening your eggs, then say what you want “I want a child with no known genetic disorders more than anything.” (I’m sure this will result in some angry posts but it’s true, isn’t it?).

      Next, in regard to the testing for genetic disorders prior to implantation, I do personally feel very strongly that this is morally wrong, and a form of genocide (and I know many of you will disagree with me). I also think it is discriminatory. We are discriminating against those who have a way of being prenatally diagnosed and deciding for them that they are not worth bringing into this world. There is SO much to learn from these children and life can be so wonderful if we allow it to be.

      I would also like to point out that there are no tests for autism, cerebal palsy, etc. So all of those “normals” may in fact turn out to be “abnormal”. Then what? Then will you cast them away, put them up for adoption? Of course not, they are your child. You will love them, fight for them and fight for the rights of those with disabilities. So why not do that from the start????

      For all of those parents of children with a disability, I applaud you and respect you for fighting for their rights (and yes, as you may have guessed, I am one of them).

    • Deb

      Thank you Lora for saying that so beautifully!!! I sat up last night after writing my last comments and came up with almost exactly the same things. It’s a shame that there are still people in this world living in a bubble not affected by our special needs children. They would soon realize it really is a gift and not “a cross” or “a burden”. It may sound simplistic and naive….but it is true. Sami is a blessing for our family and I wouldn’t change her for one moment. She plays, she laughs, she cries and most importantly….she loves. What more would you want for your child? Stop seeing the negatives and realize you may be letting a beautiful thing pass you by. It’s unfortunate for you that you just don’t get it.

    • Philippa

      Taylor remarked that a donor ‘obviously did not want to be located to be a father’. How exactly would she know? I wish she would do some research. In the UK a register has been set up to help donors and half siblings contact each other if they are matched by DNA testing. A third of those on the register are donors. Given that many donors donated hundreds of times, this shows that a greater proportion of donors to donor conceived adults are wanting to find out more. I have been told that many of them have had qualms with what they have done as they have grown older and thought about their children growing up. Everything Taylor says about donor conception is factually incorrect as she is speaking from her her own limited viewpoint without regard to the truth.

    • Wendy

      Lora,

      I applaud you for your well written response to all of the posts above. Not only were you able to educate posters with “improved” terminology but you were able to express your opinion without sounding self-righteous or name calling. More posts should be as well thought out as yours.

      Bravo!

    • Lisa

      Doing PGD and electing not to transfer chromosomally abnormal embryos is to me somewhat similar to choosing, for example. not to marry a man who has brain damage following a stroke. If a man comes into your life and you marry him, you will learn to cope post-stroke because you have made a commitment to him. But you probably wouldn’t have chosen to commit to a man with brain damage to begin with. But knowing you are high risk and doing PGD to discard chromosomally abnormal embryos is like not marrying the brain damaged man. If you do carry a child and give birth and commit to it, you love your child and honor that commitment to it even if it does have chromosomal/genetic abnormalities. It is ok though to know your embryo has genetic abnormalties and choose not to implant. It is OK to choose to never even begin down that path. Granted, you may find yourself on that path regardless, but it is ok for it to not be your choice.

      Please excuse the ramble. I don’t think it is fair to sit in such harsh condemnation of women who choose PGD. A chromosomally abnormal embryo is likely to not even develop properly once implanted and end up miscarrying. If I am spending a small fortune on doing IVF and PGD will help increase the odds (which is open to doubt but that is another conversation) of bringing a baby home with me in nine months, I am wholeheartedly all for it.

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    • http://daytimetalk.com women4women

      Having read most of the above comments, I was saddened to see how many women who desire the same thing – motherhood, could be so misinformed and judgemental. We should be supporting one another, not bashing each others every move. If you have never experienced infertility, you really should not judge a person on their personal choices. Alexis did a lot of women a favor by being honest. The media gives women mixed messages and then they are left to feel as if their own choices in life are somehow punishable. If someone wants to use a donor egg/sperm it is wonderful that the choice exists. If you choose to adopt, awesome. If you are lucky enough to have biological children, please love them well. I believe most women that face infertility never look back once a child enters their world, and they love and appreciate those children more than they could ever express.

    • money lady

      I am certain that she is unaware how insulting and hurtful her comments are to those of us whose lives have been blessed and enriched by a child with Down syndrome or any other special need. —–

      Insulting how?

      She just wish’s to be fair and not bring a child into this world that is already dysfunctional!

      Yes if one is blessed with a DOWN CHILDL then they have a responsibility to it.

      But to deliberately create one and satisfy a LOOK AT ME I AM A SAINT BECAUSE I AM A CARETAKER OF A CHALLENGED CHILD.. Is a bunch of hula.

      Why say “I love you but then sleep in anothers bed??
      Face it do you ever ask the question why me GOD?

      Ayn Rand.” I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

      Life is not a rehearsal……

    • mary

      I’m struggling with infertility and it is extremely difficult and heartbreaking. I have an aunt who did IVF at 45 and had twins (she got pregnant the first try). I am 40 and just had a failed IVF cycle with my own eggs. I told my doctor about my aunt and he told me he doubts she used her own eggs.

      Me and everyone else in my family assumes she used her own eggs. I feel betrayed by my aunt for not being honest with me about her experience. Before my IVF cycle, I called asked her about her IVF cycle, how many eggs they retrieved from her, etc. I guess she lied to me. She made up this whole story about how many eggs were retrieved, how many fertilized, etc, when really she must have been talking about what happened with her donor. It set up unrealistic expectations for me.

      But I really feel bad for her twins (a boy and a girl). They will probably never know. They are 12 years old now and don’t look anything like us. The girl is angry at her mother for other reasons, mainly because my aunt ignores her and her brother. It is a really sad situation. (It doesn’t change my love for them; they will always be my cousins.)

      I’m glad Alexis Stewart is being open and honest about her experience. Women need to know so that they have realistic expectations. I just hope that if she has a child or children, that she doesn’t ignore them and gives them all the love and attention they need.