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Boy or Girl?: Three Moms' Stories of Gender Selection

Mom: Alison Passman*

  • Why she tried gender selection: "My parents were divorced when I was 13 and I lived with my father. I never got to do the kinds of things a girl does with her mother. I knew I wanted to have daughters so I could share all the things I later realized that I missed out on as a child."
  • Strategy: Landrum Shettles' technique, from his book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby (Main Street Books)
  • Experience: "When we decided to try again after having two sons, I bought the Shettles book. From conception, the pregnancy felt different from the others. The news from my doctor that this was yet another boy literally left me on the floor crying. My husband didn't know what to do with me.

    We decided to try one more time. This time, we signed up for Microsort. We put in our deposit, and got the ball rolling. On the day my husband was supposed to supply his sperm sample, he called me and said he just couldn't do it. He said he was willing to try again but not that way. I had to respect what he wanted, so we gave up Microsort and decided to try Shettles again."
  • Outcome: "I don't know if it made any difference, but this time around we both cut caffeine completely from our diet. I conceived soon afterward and found out the day before Thanksgiving that we were having a girl."

*pseudonym

Mom: Laura Johns-Stevenshi

  • Why she tried gender selection: "My husband and I each came to our marriage with two daughters. We wanted a boy so my husband's name could be carried on and so we could have a different parenting experience."
  • Strategy: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
  • Experience: "We felt very strongly that we would only have another child if we could be sure it would be a boy, so PGD was the only method we considered. Before we made our final decision, I asked my pastor what he thought and he told us that if God didn't want this to be, he wouldn't have given us the knowledge to do it. I have to say that getting all of those shots for the fertility drugs was pretty stressful. But it never entered my mind to back out, because I was confident that I'd be rewarded with a baby boy in the end."
  • Outcome: "The first round of PGD produced eight embryos but they were all females. We froze them and are considering donating them to a family who needs them. We are eager to try another round, so I'll be starting my fertility drugs when I start my next period."

Mom: Jennifer Merrill Thompson

  • Why she tried gender selection: "I really wanted to share with a daughter the type of bond I had had with my mother and three sisters."
  • Strategy: Microsort
  • Experience: "After having no luck with Shettles and getting pregnant with my second son, I did my research and met several women online who successfully conceived daughters using Microsort. The first two attempts resulted in pregnancies, but I miscarried very early on. I did two more cycles but didn't get pregnant.

    We then decided to use Microsort and IVF, where my eggs were fertilized in vitro with enriched sperm. Because the embryos are not evaluated for gender before they are implanted, there was the possibility that I'd have a boy. But the purity rate of my husband's enriched sperm was 96 percent, so we both were pretty confident we would get what we wanted."
  • Outcome: "A daughter, now 2 1/2, with my first round of Microsort with IVF."

Did You Know...?

Among couples seeking gender selection assistance at fertility institutes:

  • Canadians are primarily seeking girls.
  • American demand is 50/50.
  • German demand is 50/50.
  • Asians and Indians overwhelmingly want boys.

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Peg Rosen, a mother of two boys, is a writer in Montclair, New Jersey.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2005.