I think you probably know the details of your birth more than any other person on earth, right?
Like most of us, don’t know.
The nitty-gritty of is how we were conceived.
Is pretty weird, watching yourself, be born.
It’s a yes, this is Louise Brown being interviewed by CBS News in 2018, Louise was famous before she was even, born cameras, were there, the moment she arrived?
When you were a child, did you feel like you had to prove that you were normal?
I feel like I had to prove it but I know it.
One point when I was in the pram, mum took me to a local bakery and they said, oh, is this the test tube baby?
And mom said, yeah and they said, oh, she’s normal.
And Mum said, well, what did you expect her to have two heads?
Louise was the first human ever born from in vitro fertilization or IVF.
This was back in the late 70s Louise’s mother had gotten pregnant after her doctor successfully implanted, an embryo and her uterus.
Nothing like it had been done before and people were afraid afraid that the babies wouldn’t be born healthy, afraid that scientists were playing God afraid that it would threaten Family, as we knew it.
From gimlet media.
This is not past it a show about the stories.
We can’t quite leave behind every episode.
We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.
I’m Simone plannin on July 25th 1978 44 years ago, this week Louise Brown showed the world.
A baby could be made in a whole new way.
Since then, it’s estimated that over 8 million.
Is have been born using IVF today on the show.
Will look at how IVF went from being feared to being mainstream to helping people build new types of families will deliver this bundle of joy after the break.
Louise’s mother was named Leslie.
Grew up in a working-class family in Bristol, England, and the 50s and 60s, she was 14.
When she dropped out of high school, then she met John Brown.
They became a couple when she was 16.
They married at 19 and she immediately began trying to get pregnant.
This is Margaret Marsh.
She’s a history.
Professor at Rutgers University specializing.
Seeing in the history of infertility and Reproductive Medicine.
She says Lesley.
And John tried to have a baby but Leslie couldn’t get pregnant.
So they kept trying and it kept not working for nine whole years.
She went from Doctor to doctor with no success.
She had blocked, fallopian tube, and she was operated on but she could not get pregnant.
Already had two kids from a previous marriage which way down Leslie, she felt something was wrong with her.
She went in and out of periods of severe depression.
I put a strain on her marriage, you don’t feel normal.
She later told the Daily Mail, you feel you’re not a real woman at one point.
She told her husband go and find a proper wife.
Finally in 1976 Leslie went to a gynecologist.
Just named Patrick Steptoe.
He and his colleagues were developing a technique to help couples conceive.
They were planning to remove an egg from the ovaries and fertilize it with sperm in a Petri dish.
They’d wait a couple of days for the embryo to develop and then place it inside the uterus.
The procedure was still experimental, but Leslie didn’t care.
She said, I may have been called, but none of this mattered.
To me all I heard was we’re doing this work.
We might be able to help you get pregnant.
She said, you know, she said, I didn’t care.
Leslie, agreed to the procedure and started her first attempt at IVF.
And she got lucky, Lastly, Brown got pregnant first, brought she got pregnant.
Leslie was ecstatic but she was also afraid.
Would she be able to carry the baby to term with the baby?
Healthy the 40 week.
There were still a huge concerns about IVF in the 1970s.
There had been pushed back from religious groups, especially the Catholic Church, which holds that life begins at conception.
They didn’t like the idea of tossing out, unused embryos many scientists and ethicists were also skeptical the term.
Slippery slope came up a lot, some feared that IVF could lead to birth defects and human clones others worried that people.
Could start to screen for disorders.
That parents would someday be able to select furth desirable genes.
And scientists, who are researching, the technology or stigmatized in 1973 a doctor at Columbia University, try to fertilize the egg of a woman who was struggling to get pregnant, but he never informed his Department about his plans which was a problem.
Someone found out that he was attempting to fertilize an egg and the chair of his Department.
Destroyed, the contents of that Testament, the department chair said, the doctor should have sought permission first.
That it was too soon to be testing IVF on humans, the prospective parents were devastated.
There was resistance in Britain to Leslie’s dr.
And his collaborator.
Robert Edwards were some of just a few researchers in the world, working on the technique and they were treated as Outsiders in the medical community.
At one point Margaret says, Edwards was confronted by one of The Grandfather’s of genetics himself, James Watson, the guy famous for discovering DNA.
He didn’t like where the tech was headed.
Robert Edwards had quite a dust-up at in 1971 conference that was on reproductive technology and Watson had said it’s going to be horrible, you were going to end up with A lot of mistakes.
In other words, you are going to do IVF and the babies are going to be born with significant disabilities.
All of us opposition meant very little Public Funding.
For research, few were willing to wade into such controversial territory, but Edwards and Steptoe were undeterred.
A British Medical Teams had the day at hopes to create the world’s first test-tube baby by the end of this year.
They worked for almost a decade without much success.
In that time, they tried the procedure on about 280 women.
None resulted in a successful pregnancy but their luck took a turn with Leslie.
And John Brown Margaret says Lesley had no idea.
She was the first to get pregnant using IVF until she read about herself in the Press after she became pregnant and the word got out her life was a living hell.
Because she was hounded by the media.
It was the story of the year.
The Press camped outside of her home.
Leslie was forced to find another place to live.
She went to stay with relatives but the media found her there.
So she went to stay with a relative of one of her doctors but the media found her there too.
Finally Steptoe admitted her to a hospital under an assumed name but the press found out they camped out under her window.
They posed as maintenance men, to try to get into her room.
Somebody even pulled the fire alarm ones to see if they could get everybody to evacuate to try to catch her.
As she was leaving her room.
It was very stressful for her.
Then in the summer of 1978, the moment the world had been waiting for finally arrived, doctors prepped Leslie for a C-section.
It was time for her to meet her baby on July the 25th at around 11:00 at night.
They wheeled her in for a cesarean section and there’s a bill group there.
You are about to see a historic birth following in vitro fertilization Steptoe, held Leslie’s hand, he said a silent prayer checked the baby’s heartbeat.
Then the C-section began hand has not been inserted below the baby’s head in order to deliver it through the letterbox incision.
Good healthy cry.
There was a lot of relief that she was healthy normal and beautiful.
This Cry of the baby is excellent.
That means the lungs are being very well expanded, lovely, pink color, plenty of fat underneath the skin would mature baby.
And after that, of course the World Went Crazy.
The world’s first test-tube baby was born here in Britain last night.
Pink healthy, baby girl, who began life in a test tube.
The homecoming of Louise Brown, the test tube, baby her mother dashing into the house with a coat over her head and the baby quickly.
Following surely no baby in the world can never have had a homecoming, quite like, this one.
Leslie and John named their baby.
Girl, Louise, they let Leslie stock ters, choose her middle name, joy and for the most part, the media Margaret says fell in love.
I do a lecture on this sometimes and I have this one slide where I have the magazine covers from all over the world about Louise Brownsburg.
Louise Brownsburg Browns birth, the lovely Louise, and it was a media sensation because this Was the first test tube baby.
Headlines gushed over Louise little miss perfect.
Wrote one the whole world and her hands said another.
Articles written about the Browns emphasize, the respectability, The Daily Mail, a British tabloid had paid the Browns more than 300,000 pounds for exclusive rights to their story.
It described Leslie and John as suitable and deserving parents.
Aligning IVF with traditional Family Values.
Eventually helped ease it into the mainstream couple started, reaching out to the Browns expressing.
How the birth of Louise gave them New Hope for their Chance at a family.
But the Browns also had to contend with some backlash, when Louise grew up, she wrote about some of the negative things.
People said about her hurtful things.
She said, people thought she wasn’t fully human that she must have superhuman Powers.
The ability to move objects with her mind.
Some even said she had no soul and then they got terrible things.
Like they got a package that had plastic feet.
Just sent a broken test tube and fake blood splattered all over everything.
So it wasn’t all wonderful for them.
After the birth, we reached out to Louise, but she didn’t respond.
In the months and years that followed Louise’s birth Physicians around the world race to open their own IVF clinics.
But there was opposition and in the u.s. it was especially Fierce, there was a proposal to open the first American IVF clinic in Virginia in the late 70s and local anti-abortion activists were mounting a series of attacks.
The proposal has brought national attention to Norfolk today.
All three It works were filming at the hospital.
It is also brought opposition from the Catholic Church from the Virginia society for human life.
Who’s President, Charles Dean claims, the clinic will increase the number of abortions anti-abortion activist.
Charles Dean said ibf would involve flushing imperfect babies down a Laboratory sink.
Akin to an abortion.
He said I feel it’s a tragedy and a disgrace.
Dean and others were concerned about unused embryos.
Typically with IVF, there’s the potential for not just one.
But several embryos to be made doctors do this to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy.
The extra embryos are usually Frozen when people decide not to use them.
There’s sometimes donated or otherwise discarded Dean rally dozens of other anti-abortion demonstrators, they marched carried signs one red unnatural creation who should play God Add all this opposition Force the clinic to delay.
Its opening reaching you society for human life, is threatened to take the hospital to court and the Virginia anti-abortion group.
Also had powerful allies in Congress.
I’m from Washington, where Utah, senator Orrin, Hatch says, there are still too many unanswered, religious ethical moral and legal questions about in vitro fertilization project ought to be delayed.
It’s a brand new situation.
People don’t understand that there are many Many religious difficulties with it moral Ethical difficulties with it.
Despite the pushback, the clinic finally opened in March of 1980 today and the u.s. there are nearly 500 fertility clinics and tens of thousands of babies are born using reproductive Technologies each year.
It’s become a blessing for families who struggle to or can’t conceive.
But for many, it’s a draining and difficult journey.
I knew it was going to be intense.
I didn’t know how intense And I think if I had known just how intense it was going to be, I don’t know if I would have actually been ready for it, one family’s IVF story after the break.
Before the break, we learned about the decades-long attempt to create a human embryo outside the body and implant it in a person’s uterus despite serious pushback IVF expanded quickly in the United States.
Suddenly single parents.
Queer couples people struggling to get pregnant, they had new choices for building a family.
But this new opportunity also brought a whole new set of considerations Iterations, that one, Brooklyn couple, and a Krieger and Rosie Guerin grappled with recently, when they were figuring out how to start a family.
They now have twins.
Yeah, this is Remy.
Oh my gosh.
His sister is, I think Anna’s fall asleep and he is going to maybe make some baby noises.
I hope not too much.
That was Rosie with a special appearance from baby Remy Rosie’s, an executive producer at gimlet me.
Dia which puts out this show her wife.
Anna is a career coach who grew up knowing she wanted to have kids for me.
Growing up, I always envisioned myself as a parent and I would draw these pictures of me at the time, with my future husband and my five children and little.
Did I know that years later I would come out as clear and you know, and then we’d be Family Planning and maybe a different way than I anticipated Anna and Rosie got married in 2019 soon after.
They started seriously talking about having kids and realized there was a lot to consider like who would carry the baby?
Who would contribute the egg?
They talked about the race of their future baby.
Anna is white.
Rosie is black Rosie’s thinking was shaped by her own family history I’m adopted and I have a younger brother who’s also adopted we are both black.
Our parents are white so I had not done a lot of processing and Reckoning around what that meant for sort of my relationship with race, my relationship with being you know as a child that was placed and then having children of my own so that It was really a tough kind of not to unravel for me, Rosie and Anna talked about what it meant to have children that shared both their physical traits.
How important it was to have a child biologically related to them.
I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be biologically connected, and what it means to birth children, but a huge exercise for me, personally, throughout this process has been Really scratching it at that and not taking that on its face.
They decided and I would be the one to carry using her eggs and they started searching for a sperm donor.
It felt like dating sites for you.
Pay up to get access to more information it was totally wild.
It was yeah it was like a dating site meets Amazon Plus like the consequential biological decision making for your Children for the rest of their lives, it was really intense, but there was still a virtual shopping cart.
They chose a black sperm, donor physically.
Rosie would be represented to us.
When we walk down the street, we want people to see us as a family, and there’s so many components that play, and it did feel important that if Rosie’s alone with the kids, we wanted the kids to, at least on some level reflect her as well.
They did a try IVF right off the bat, they started with a procedure called, I Why intrauterine insemination basically where the sperm is placed directly into the uterus.
The couple was hopeful.
They tried a couple times, but when it didn’t work out, they were devastated, Rosie proposed using IVF, but Anna had her reservations from the beginning.
I had said, I really really don’t want to do IVF.
To start IVF, you have to take drugs to help the ovaries produce as many eggs as possible, drugs that can have side effects and take an emotional toll.
There’s also a higher chance of having multiple births, which also carries risk plus, it’s pricey around 20 thousand dollars per cycle.
Thankfully Anna and Rosie found that their insurance would cover the cost, so they decided to give it a shot.
Anna was nervous.
I was really scared, you know like oh wow, will it work?
But also how I respond to this and having a lot of hormones pumped into my system in that way and having to go through all of the medications and everything.
There’s a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty.
It was hard on Anna and it was hard on Rosie to the process of going through.
This was an exercise in both trying to extinguish hope not allow yourself to go there because statistically it’s not going to work it’s not going to happen.
The couple was lucky their first round of IVF produced several viable embryo.
Was Then Came time for the transfer placing the embryo inside the uterus seeing if it implants, the first transfer didn’t work.
Two months later.
They tried again again it didn’t take but then well you know what they say about third times I was starting to have some symptoms, pretty early on I thought.
Well, let’s just do a test and we both ran into the bathroom and I took the The test and then we’re looking at it and we start to see a line appear and then Rosie started screaming and she’s like, oh my God, is that a line?
Is that a faint line?
Is that a thing?
Their doctor confirmed, it Anna was pregnant and on.
December 3rd, 2021, Anna and Rosie welcomed twins embryo, one became our son, Remy, and embryo.
To begin where daughter.
No, I don’t have kids of my own, but I’ve heard that when you do it’s like, unlocking, a depth of love.
You didn’t know, was possible.
When Rosie and Anna met their children.
For the first time, they felt that love everything they had gone through all the fertility, treatments, the failed attempts, the difficult questions, it had all led to these two little lives.
Now you have your kids, you’ve started your family thinking about where you are now.
If you could go back to talk to yourselves in the middle of that process, what would you say to yourself?
I would probably describe to myself the budding personalities of these incredible incredible children, because it’s so theoretical.
It’s sort of a hazy picture, and now we have our kids and they’re so great.
There’s such a good hang.
Like, they’re really fun and interesting.
Me and delightful people if I could go back and talk to my former self and to Rosie, I would say that it’s all going to be worth it.
And here we are and it can’t have been that Bleak because we’re considering doing it again sometime.
Yeah because Rosie might want to carry and I’ve said to her if she wants to go through and I’m all for it, I’m not sure I’m brave enough but I really love babies.
For now they’re just trying to get enough sleep.
I think about how far we’ve come since Leslie, Brown, gave birth to Louise and the 70s, how much more normalized IVF is on the opportunities.
It’s opened up for people wanting to build families, but the future of IVF isn’t clear.
Not since the overturning of Roe v–.
Wade, some anti-abortion groups Consider all embryos to be human beings.
And while some of these groups have reportedly stated, they aren’t focusing on IVF fertility, doctors and frankly, a lot of other people are worried about new anti-abortion laws.
What happens to unused embryos?
Could you be punished for destroying them?
Would you have to pay to store them in?
Definitely give them up for adoption.
What it mean making fewer embryos from the get-go, limiting people’s reproductive?
It would be a huge step back.
A step, back from the strides we’ve made in science.
A step back from the strides we’ve made as a society and expanding, how we think about family and expanding our possibilities for love.
Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.
This episode was produced by Sarah Craig.
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Thanks for hanging.
We’ll see you.
I always save it by our second or third date.
I decided I was done dating and Rosie was the one.
And I like to try to convince Rosie that, that was the case and that freaked me out.
But seven years later, here we are.