Story transcripts

By Design

Friday, November 23, 2012

Reporter: Tara Brown
Producer: Sandra Cleary

How far would you go to choose the sex of your baby?

For Jodi and Andrew McMahon, the proud parents of seven sons, the answer was halfway around the world.

Earlier this year, Tara Brown joined the McMahon tribe on their epic quest for a baby girl.

The method they used - called gender selection - is extremely controversial, so much so that it's banned in this country.

But, nine months on, it's hard to argue with the results.

View our original story here.

Full transcript:

STORY – TARA BROWN: Just six days old, little Evie has no idea what her parents, Jodi and Andrew McMahon, had to do to get her - their second daughter after seven sons. You’ve had a big trip home from America and now you’ve landed in a house full of boys. And one girl. Evie’s is a remarkable story of love, persistence, and science. We first met Jodi and Andrew at the start of the year, along with their small army of men, at home in Tumut, NSW. But as this army has grown with each new boy, so did Jodi’s and Andrew’s desperation for a girl.

JODI: When I found out I was having another boy I was really upset - really upset.

TARA BROWN: Did you expect to feel that way?

JODI: Nup. Nup.

TARA BROWN: Andrew, were you disappointed at all?

ANDREW: Not at all, no. They’re all top kids.

TARA BROWN: Yeah, they are really top kids.

JODI: Wouldn’t put any of them back.

TARA BROWN: Then, two years ago, Jodi and Andrew decided to do all they could to guarantee a girl. So they turned to a controversial procedure known as gender selection - banned in Australia, but readily available in California. Using Jodi’s eggs and Andrew’s sperm, two female embryos were created. One was stored on ice, the other transferred into Jodi’s womb. The result was their first daughter, Addison, born last year.

JODI: It was just so different. It was just a dream come true. Like, and it was just - I just had to keep pinching myself, that it was - that it had happened really, I guess.

TARA BROWN: But with a frozen embryo left behind in California, the McMahon family wasn’t complete. Do you think of this embryo as an embryo?

JODI: No, not really. Think of it as a sister. I call it a Frosty though, because she’s on ice.

TARA BROWN: So, in February, the whole family went back to Los Angeles to get Frosty, with the help of fertility specialist Dr Daniel Potter.

DANIEL: This is Frosty’s home. She’s at the tip of this tube right here. Part of the reason for me being here is to help people connect with their destiny.

TARA BROWN: You’re the dream maker?

DANIEL: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, I’m more the facilitator. I mean, I think Jodi’s the dream maker. She's the one who flew out to the United States and went through this whole crazy, complicated process.

TARA BROWN: It only takes a moment for the promise of life – as Dr Potter transfers the left over embryo into Jodi.

DANIEL: So Frosty’s in, that little dot. Going to hold the catheter still for just a moment.

TARA BROWN: Nine months later, and here she is. Little Evie McMahon. What sort of reaction have you had from people after they saw our first story?

JODI: Oh, that, you know, that we’re selfish, and, um, that IVF isn’t meant for that purpose. But like, technology allows – allows you to do it, and it’s not like I jumped in line and pushed others out of the road.

TARA BROWN: And what about people who support you, what do they say?

JODI: Oh, they just think it’s excellent. Like, older people have said, “Oh, I had five boys or five girls and I would’ve used it if the technology was there in my day.”

TARA BROWN: Of course, none of it matters now. Can you believe the last time I met you, you were just a little test tube baby? Stored in a laboratory.

JODI: Yeah, in a freezer.

TARA BROWN: In a freezer. Can you get your head around that?

JODI: Oh, it’s just – I don’t know, nup. Not really.

TARA BROWN: Evie McMahon is a healthy baby girl, certainly not wanting for attention. She’s sweet isn’t she? Do you think she likes being in this house with so many boys?

BOYS: Um. Yeah. Do you Evie? What did she say? She said yes.

TARA BROWN: And the brothers are so smitten with their little sisters, Addison and Evie, that they just want many more like them.

BOY: Because too many boys.

TARA BROWN: There are too many boys in this house?

BOY: We need to get equal with the girls.

TARA BROWN: Do you reckon your mum and dad would agree with that?

BOY: No.

TARA BROWN: So when’s the next trip to California?

JODI: There won’t be another one. It will be holiday only. And no children. No!

TARA BROWN: So that’s it - no more babies?

JODI: No more babies. Nup, we’ll book Andrew in.

TARA BROWN: Andrew, what do you reckon?

ANDREW: Oh, I just get told.

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