Lara Freidenfelds

Sperm Donor Siblings Speak Their Truths

In Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin, sociologists Rosanna Hertz and Margaret Nelson ask what it means for children to be related to each other via a sperm donor. In their rendering, this is not merely a theoretical question up for philosophical debate. What is so brilliant about… Read more →

Making Room for Miscarriage

After I miscarried my first pregnancy, I quickly realized that I needed a historical perspective to make sense of this shockingly unexpected and distressing event. Before I got pregnant, I had no idea that around 20% of confirmed pregnancies miscarry, mostly in their early months, and that miscarriages are a normal part of childbearing for… Read more →

Help! Talk Radio Ate the Presidency!

In November 2016, my Facebook feed was filled with friends’ dreaded anticipation of Thanksgiving with extended family, and particularly with that uncle: the unapologetic Trump supporter full of crude, bigoted bluster. So many white families seemed to have an uncle like this — even if in liberal families everyone had written him off as a… Read more →

In Vitro Fertilization: From Science Fiction to Reality to History

It was not that long ago that “test tube babies” only existed in science fiction. I remember my shock when, in 2007, one of my students at Wellesley College told me that she was an IVF (in vitro fertilization) baby. “The technology couldn’t be that old, could it?” I thought. In The Pursuit of Parenthood:… Read more →

Is a Historian’s Library an Archive or a Living Thing?

This week I purged my bookshelves. As a Ph.D. historian, it initially felt like a risky move — somewhere in between disowning my former self and cutting out part of my brain. In the end, though, I think the effect will be closer to pruning a big, old, tangled shrub so that it has some… Read more →

Journey Into Mothering with Historian Sarah Knott

In Mother Is a Verb, Sarah Knott takes her reader on a historian’s journey into motherhood. It is a sort of train travelogue, riding along parallel rails: personal memoir and wide-ranging social history. The path of the narrative is dictated by the chronology of the memoir, starting with choosing to try for a pregnancy, and… Read more →

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →

This is Not a Culture of Life, This is a Culture of Un-Death

Last week at a Vatican conference on abortion, Pope Francis “argued that children who were not expected to live long after birth deserved to be treated in the womb ‘with extraordinary pharmacological, surgical and other interventions.’” He intimated that parents who did not use extraordinary measures were not caring for their children, saying that “Taking… Read more →

Take Back the Net: Joy Rankin’s A People’s History of Computing in the United States

Should I post a tough parenting question on Twitter, ask my Facebook community, or email a few friends who are most likely to have useful suggestions? What would be the best place to reach people to share an intriguing job announcement? These days, we have a multitude of network options, and we assume that computers… Read more →

Give Thanks for Crossing Guards

“Wait on the curb, kids. Wait until I say you can cross.” Janice, the crossing guard at Fairmount Avenue, stepped briskly into traffic, waving her sign and yelling “this means stop!” at the stray car that ignored the red “STOP” octagon she wielded. “Okay, kids, now you can go.” I crossed with a troupe of… Read more →