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Teddi Jo Mellencamp

She Picked Her Baby’s Sex in IVF then Felt Punished When Born with A Birth Defect

I love the Real Housewives series on Bravo TV though I am not always up to speed on the seasons and the newer members. I was catching up with the latest season of the Beverly Hills housewives series of the franchise when I got introduced to Teddi Jo Mellencamp Arroyave. (Yes, her dad is John Cougar Mellencamp. *swoon*)

The gorgeous blonde seems down-to-earth and has a 5-year olf daughter, Slate and 3-year old son,  Cruz, and a hunky security company owner husband Edwin Arroyave. During a couple dinner date hosted by Dorit Kemsley and her husband Paul “P.K.: Kemsley  in an early episode, Teddi and Edwin share about the guilt they endured over their son’s health following their decision to select his gender.

After getting pregnant easily the first time, they struggled the second time and turned to IVF for help. During the process, they had 12 embryos fertilized and all but one was female. Edwin wanted a boy, perhaps given they already had a daughter at the time, so they rejected the overwhelming majority of available fertilized embryos to implant the only male egg.

Their son was born with two healthy instead of three aortic chambers and as a result, may have lifelong challenges though he is quite healthy now and the prognosis seems good that he will live a good life. It started out pretty horrific.

“We had a really scary delivery with Cruz,” Teddi relayed during  the episode, explaining that Cruz wasn’t breathing when he was born. “They put him on me and one of the nurses was like, ‘He’s not okay, Code Blue.’ And I was just sitting there, and he wasn’t breathing.”

As docs rushed in to attend to their baby, Edwin immediately connected the trauma to his decision to pick the baby’s sex.

“I just remember my sisters were in the room and they’re crying. [Teddi’s] crying. I was like, ‘Holy crap,’ ” he said. “I was just praying like, ‘Lord, give me one more chance. I’ll never do this again.’ ”

He was referring to the selecting of the baby’s sex during in vitro fertilization.

“I made sure it was a boy,” he told the Kemsleys. “I kept saying, ‘I want the boy, I want the boy.’ ”

The couple sincerely expressed regret and felt they were being punished for picking their child’s gender (or sex) when they could have just been grateful for whatever God gave them. I am presuming this. Not putting words in their mouth.

“I’m his mother. My job is to protect him, and that little bit of me who felt like I was selecting something — I choose for him to be a boy, God didn’t choose for me — it’ll always make me feel a little guilty,” Teddi said.

“IVF is one of the hardest things you can go through as a woman,” she added. “One of your biggest jobs is to make babies and when you can’t, you feel sad cause you’re not able to make your baby. And you also feel sad cause you feel like you’re failing.”

You guys know I have an institutional memory and so the disclosure and exchange reminded me a bit of Toni Braxton who revealed in her book that she felt that God punished her for a previous abortion she decided to have in the middle of her then-sizzling hot career. Her son Diezel has Autism. She since went on to explain that her un-evolved notions at the time have changed, after a lot of backlash.

It is not uncommon as I, personally, know women who had fertility struggles and said they felt they too were being punished for an abortion they elected to have when younger. It is a touchy subject.

The ethics of selecting a child’s gender came into play publicly among another celebrity lately. Chrissy Teigen revealed that she felt her first child should be a girl because she wanted her husband, John Legend, to have a daughter. She also got blasted for expressing her decision.

In any event, I have no opinion on the matter other than I am happy that people are being open about these very sensitive issues beause someone out there can relate and perhaps can benefit from hearing and seeing these topics actively and candidly being aired.

Bravo! (Pun intended)

Photo: Jorge Bautista