So Paris Hilton is choosing her children. Nothing wrong with that

IVF is never easy. If gender selection is a perk, why shouldn’t she make the most of it?

Paris Hilton: why the indignation about her approach to having a family? Photograph: Daniel Jack Lyons/New York Times

Paris Hilton: why the indignation about her approach to having a family? Photograph: Daniel Jack Lyons/New York Times

 

Back in the noughties, Paris Hilton was the prototypical famous-for-fame’s-sake star. With nary a lick of musical or acting talent, she managed to parlay her infamy as a club-hopping, paparazzi-courting socialite into a lucrative career, one that allowed the likes of the Kardashians to follow in her slipstream.

But the noughties were a long time ago, and Hilton has evidently grown up. Now happily involved with her boyfriend of 15 months or so, a businessman named Carter Reum, she has an eye on motherhood: she has had her eggs extracted twice and is undergoing in-vitro fertilisation.

“It was tough, but I knew it’d be worth it,” Hilton told the podcast host Mara Schiavocampo of the procedure, in which eggs are extracted from ovaries using a thin needle. “Doing it together and having a partner that’s just so supportive and always makes me feel just like a princess all the time and is just so caring and amazing with me, it wasn’t that bad.

Why the indignation? Is it because someone is interfering with the supposed ‘natural’ run of things, or because it’s Paris Hilton who’s interfering with it?

“I’m really excited just to move on for the next step of my life and finally just have a real life,” she said. “Because I really do believe that having a family and having children is the meaning of life. And I haven’t got to experience that yet, because I didn’t feel like anybody deserved that love from me. And now I finally found the person who does.”

One angle of the story didn’t go unnoticed. Hilton mentioned her desire to start her dream family of “three or four” children with a set of fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. Told by Schiavocampo that these things can be hard to choose, Hilton replied: “We have been doing the IVF so I can pick twins if I like.” And, later: “I really want to have twins that are a boy and a girl. The only way to 100 per cent get that is by making it happen that way.”

Record scrrrreeeech! It’s entirely unclear whether Hilton is undergoing IVF simply as a way to ensure she has twins or if another factor is at play in her decision. If Hilton is having IVF for medical reasons, she hasn’t said so – not that she needs to.

Naturally, many people, given Hilton’s previous form as a one-woman ode to vapid consumerism, presumed the former, and it resulted in an almighty pile-on. “It’s like going to the store and picking out a pair of shoes,” one fan commented on Twitter.

Why the indignation? Is it because someone is interfering with the supposed “natural” run of things, or because it’s Paris Hilton who’s interfering with it? Are people bothered because this is a woman who is breezingly accessing fertility technology for nonmedical needs? And, if so, why? There’s enough innovation to go around. In undergoing IVF she is not robbing an opportunity from someone else.

And, really, if the science and technological innovation are available to let a person choose the family they might like, why not avail of that?

Parenting forums and secret Facebook groups are packed with women who, in a safe and discreet outpost of the internet, will readily express what’s known as gender disappointment

It’s romantic and certainly right on to take the view that it doesn’t matter what gender a baby is, as long as you’re blessed with good health. Yet parenting forums and secret Facebook groups are packed with women who, in a safe and discreet outpost of the internet, will readily express what’s known as gender disappointment. It’s a secret sadness, and one loaded with taboo and shame. And perhaps it shouldn’t be. Women – and men – should be given the space to express what are clearly legitimate feelings.

I’m sure any couple enduring the vagaries of IVF – and they are vagaries, genuinely – would take umbrage at the idea of “shopping for a perfect family”. The financial pinch involved is likely not the same for Hilton as for others, yet for all we know she has endured the same physical invasiveness, the same emotional capriciousness and the same stirrings of hope as most others.

IVF is tough. It’s emotional. It’s fraught with uncertainty. “Failure” to conceive is commonplace. The journey, whether you’re Paris Hilton or Breda from Ballinteer, is fraught with anxiety and discomfort.

Why wouldn’t a couple take the opportunity to choose a gender, to access this one “perk” of IVF, if it is indeed available to them? I’m sure in many cases it’s one of the last things on a would-be mother’s mind as she starts on the road to IVF. But you know what? Sometimes it’s not.

Whether it’s the case or not for Paris Hilton, the jury is out. Yet if she feels that this is price enough for the type of family she has always dreamed of having, surely that’s her call to make. Besides, as Hilton will find out all too soon and only too well, when it comes to baby “shopping”, there is no such thing as a refund.

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