Are My Kids Fortunate Monsters?

My kids always ask if I wrote Fortunate Monsters about them.  I tell them I didn’t, but I did just a bit.

It took my husband and me a couple of years to conceive our eldest daughter. That should have been a warning sign.  It wasn’t, so we took our own sweet time giving her siblings.

Three years of waiting and two years of “trying” turned into three years of infertility treatment. Eventually the transfer of three 8-celled embryos, conceived via ICSI, became my wonderful son and daughter. My first memory of these two great kids is from the petri dish where I saw them happily dividing.

So when people talk about Chinese Researchers using technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 to edit genes in human embryos shortly after conception, I take notice.

I’ve seen 8-celled embryos that became real people.

In farm animals, embryo splitting has been successfully demonstrated for several live stock species. In sheep, 36% of embryos can be split as 2- and 4-cell embryos that develop into twins. Mammals have been born from embryos “twinned” multiple times, including Rhesus Monkeys.

We live in an era of donor eggs and sperm,  international surrogacy and three parent embryos. We even have “snowflake babies“, frozen embryos conceived by one previously infertile couple which are donated to another.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan.

I think people have a right to procreate with consenting parties if they have any human rights at all. Medical technology has been used in the service of creating healthy, happy, children for generations. I have no desire to bring the scientific train to a stop.

It’s just that not all fertility clinics are ethical  and it is kind of unsettling to consider just how much evil a bad doctor could get up to armed with genetic engineering and a hell of a lot of hubris.

I remember the years of disappointment, the months of misery, uncertainty, and needles. I can still feel the relief that washed over me when I realized my children were finally on the way.

I wrote Fortunate Monsters because I can see a future where the best and worst of human nature collide, and I have begun to wonder who we will become as a species. 

I hope you enjoy the book. You can find it here. 

–Nancy Fulton

Charles Darwin spoke about “fortunate monsters…”

Most mutations in a species result in offspring that die before they can reproduce. An infinitesimally small number result in offspring that are much better prepared to survive and reproduce than contemporaneous competitors. These lucky lucky few are called “fortunate monsters”.

All new species undergo a monster phase.

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