You, too?

Wow – Since posting this yesterday I have had a good number of people contact me and let me know that they are somewhere in this maze, as well. I had doubted whether I should create a blog about something so personal (and something that requires regular use of the noun Va-Jay-Jay) but now I am so happy that I did. Thanks for sharing.

OK – well, on to today’s fun. I have been reading a lot lately about the 1500 – 1700’s in Europe. It makes me think – throughout history, women have gone through some serious shenanigans over this birthing business. The factoids about how we understood fertility are crazy. The ancient Egyptians created a gender-prediction test that involved peeing on barley – and it was more than 70% accurate! Yet centuries later King Henry VIII beheaded a wife that could not produce a boy. He obviously did not know HIS swimmers determined the sex. But people actually wondered if this was a woman’s downfall, producing girls. So, here are some little baby-making factoids for you.

  • In the seventeenth century, many doctors believed sperm heads contained miniature, fully formed people called homunculi, who would develop into a baby when deposited in the womb.

 Wow. Don’t let your mind linger to long on that one, it becomes disturbing.

  • The first successful artificial insemination via donor sperm occurred in 1884 – without the woman’s knowledge. While performing a “routine exam,” a doctor inseminated his patient with a handsome med student’s sperm. (The book said he was handsome, but there really is no way of knowing now, is there?) He never saw fit to tell the woman, but did eventually inform her infertile husband. Sneaky little bugger.
  • A 1969 Harris poll found more than half of Americans believed that emerging reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood would “encourage promiscuity” and signify “the end of babies being born through love.”
  • Some nineteenth-century physicians believed that infertility was caused by a woman’s “excessive or luxurious living” or by strenuous mental activity such as schooling! “The results are monstrous brains and puny bodies,” a Harvard physician wrote. “The brain cannot take more that it’s share without injury to other organs.”
  • In medieval Europe, tradition held that a man who dreamed of having a son would place a battle-axe under a pillow; at climax, he’d retrieve it and exclaim to his wife: “You must have a boy!” (The wife would then exclaim, “You must have a Xanax!”) If he wanted a daughter, he’d place a hat on his wife’s head and whisper tender words to her.
  • In a 1909 medical journal article about artificial insemination, a doctor maintained that children are formed entirely by the mother’s genetic contribution. He considered it a “scientific fact” that the sperm donor “is of no more importance than the personality of the finger which pulls the trigger of a gun.”
  • In a fertility treatment practiced by ancient Egyptians, a woman would squat over a hot mixture of frankincense, oil, dates, and beer and allow the vapors to enter her. One pregnancy test involved mixing melon puree with the milk of a woman who delivered a boy. If the concoction made the woman sick, she was thought to be pregnant.

What if it didn’t make her sick? Did that ever happen, even once?

Have a good and “productive” weekend! 🙂


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by K on May 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    You are such a trip! Look up Lydia Pinkham…she made tonics for womens health. One was to help women get pregnant, and it worked for many.


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