Maternal Instinct

Mother’s Day is a day of celebration of motherhood, observed by many on the second Sunday of each May. This is a Day of appreciation of sacrifices and influences mothers made in the society. It often astonishes me to learn that Mother’s Day celebration only began in the USA less than one hundred years ago. Surely our gratitude and gratefulness to our maternal love had started long before the modernization of the 20th Century?

In fact, the modern American version of Mother’s Day was first documented in 1908, after Anna Jarvis campaigned for such day to be recognized and honored as a national holiday in memory of her own mother.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, it is a common knowledge she became resentful of the commercialization of this special Day. She protested the exploitation and misinterpretation of the industries such as greeting cards makers and Florist. Jarvis had even initiated boycotts and lawsuits with the attempt to stop the commercialization.

The reality is there were many celebrations of motherhood in various religions and civilization thousands of years ago. The Greek worship to Cybele, Roman’s festivity of Hilaria and the Christian celebration Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent. I guess this explains the muddles I often get myself into when sending the Mother’s Day card in March from the UK, to a bewildered mother who expects greeting in Malaysia in May.

Although a handful of countries still stick to the traditional celebrations, we cannot deny impact the modern evolutions Mother’s Day have on our society. I often wonder how the endless crowds in the Malls to get to the “Mothers Eat Free” Special Buffet would turn the grave of Jarvis one hundred years on.

I don't often get letter from Moms, I make it a point to answer a letter from a lady who is a “maternal hopeful” on Mother’s Day today.


Dear Dr. G,

My husband and I have been married for 6 years and we have been trying for baby for a while. After a lot of persuasion, my husband has finally agreed to be assessed by the urologist.

The Urologist had analysed his semen and found out he has OAT Syndrome. Despite medications and surgery, the sperm parameters are still bad.

We had several IUI and failed.

The specialist had asked us to consider IVF.

I am scared and would like to know whether IVF is safe?

With my Husband’s OAT, will the baby be deformed?

Is it possible to ensure genetic screening of the baby? Can we choose boys or girls?

Do you know any specialist would accommodate Horoscope birth?



Before the gentlemen amongst you are getting worried about the relationship of infertility with the “OAT”. Let me assure you this medical condition bears no correlation with cereal grains or Quakers breakfast. OAT simply stands for Oligo-Astheno-Terato spermia. This is a male-factor fertility obstacle related to low sperm counts with poor motility and excessive deformities of the gametes.

The infertile couples faced with OAT are usually advised to embark on Artificial Reproductive Therapy such as IUI (Intra Uterine Injection) or IVF (In Vito Fertilization), if conventional treatments cannot enhance the parameters of the sperms.

Since the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown in 1978, numerous scientific databases has been recorded to monitor the safety of the children born with such medical assistance. Recent publication highlighted although there is an association of minor birth defects such as cleft lips and septal heart defects, the risk is not considered significant after the adjustment for parental factors. In addition, IVF also does not seem to confer risk regarding cognitive development, school performance or social behavior. Since the sperm we retrieve from the OAT men is healthy, the defective baby caused by imperfect sperm is not an issue.

Most countries in the world have strict regulation against gender selection in IVF practices, however, the rules on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and screening is often an ethical dilemma. The current knowledge and technologies can allow many genetic conditions to be identified. However, there is often a fine line between choosing the “Overall Healthy Baby” or “Designer Perfection offspring”

The famous author, Rudyard Kipling once said: “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers”. I guess the self-sacrifice altruism of the maternal instincts can only be God-like. Although, the overall instinct is to ensure no harm comes to the arrival of their descendants, the enthusiasm to produce that healthy child may lead to an “age of eugenic” with genetic selection.

The commercialization of Mother’s Day celebration has undergone enormous changes in the last one hundred years. What we accept as a social norm these days is a reflection of us in our society. The evolution of the Techniques in infertility therapy has equally endured a quantum leap since the first test tube baby. What is tolerable in the next decades doesn't just reflect a society; it will change everything.

On that note, I guess Linda’s quest for that baby will continue, with or without scientific assistance. I am sure, when the time comes, the alignment of the stars and the moon and the right specialist will bring you that perfect child on that auspicious horoscope delivery. Happy Mother’s Day!!


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