Visiting the Snow Queen (The method of embryo cryopreservation)

 Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book "Angels drink milk". 

 



        "Far, far away, beyond the high mountains of Korea, nearer to the North pole of the Earth, there is a Kingdom that boggles the imagination with its harshness and coldness. This is a Kingdom where everyone from small to old obey the Snow Queen. At her disposal are beautiful, but deathly cold ice palaces, endless snow valleys and ice-bound seas, but this is not enough for her "she likes to freeze small children! She takes them out of the big and warm World of Men when they are very small, because her little ice sledge can only hold small children, and six ice reindeer carry them into her ice Kingdom at full speed. The Snow Queen loves babies, but educates them in a strict and orderly manner: you can only play at certain times, you cannot be naughty, because the Palace has frozen chandeliers and dishes, they are very fragile, cold ice toys are given to them strictly on schedule. The dining room of the Palace is always full of all sorts of snow sweets: lollipops, ice cream, sweet drinks with ice. Music is playing. Time passes decorously and calmly, but there are restrictions: the Snow Queen does not allow children to play and meet each other, they feel very lonely in their cold rooms, although they know that they have relatives."

        "And even siblings aren't allowed to meet in the ice Palace " the son asked.

        "No, even siblings are forbidden to meet! Surprisingly, in the chambers of the Snow Queen, time slows down and stops, all the children who fall into the hands of the Queen of the Ice Kingdom, forever remain small children, do not grow up, their little heart sare frozen and do not beat in the chest."

        "Why don't moms try to get them back?

        "Not all mothers are destined to be reunited with their babies… Many are forever in the sweet thrall of the Snow Queen, because their return to the World of living people can end in death, if their mothers are not helped by good Fairies."

        "Where do good Fairies come from?" the son asked, wide-eyed with surprise.

        "They live in beautiful palaces in the middle of a fabulous forest in the world of the Living. Mothers of babies come to them and tearfully ask to release the children from the Kingdom of the Snow Queen. However, Fairies cannot help mothers immediately: they must pass many tests to meet the children and show that they are ready to reunite."

        "What do they do?"

        "The Snow Queen puts a lot of obstacles in the way of mothers to her Ice Kingdom. Asks riddles, tests their health and stamina, and comes up with various tests. And only the most strong-minded mothers, who have passed all the tests, were not afraid of the Queen's machinations, showed a sincere readiness to meet and give birth to their babies, meet with their children. Only for such mothers, the Ice Witch melts the hearts of tiny prisoners, freeing them from their captivity."

        "And they then live with their mothers?"

        "Yes, they come to their mothers so that they can never leave each other again. But before the meeting, mothers carry them in their tummy for nine months in order for the babies to warm up, grow and get stronger after staying in the Kingdom of the Snow Queen."

        "That is, they turn from ice cubes to live babies in the tummy of their mother?"naively asked her son.

        "Yes, baby, something like that," said Jin-Ho, surprised at her own imagination. How adroitly she invented a fairy tale on the run describing the process of cryopreservation, storage, defrosting and transfer of embryos to women's uterine cavity. In the practice of reproductive assistive technologies this process is called cryopreservation. It is used in cases where it is impossible to transfer the obtained embryos in the current, "fresh" IVF protocol, and the uterus is not ready for transfer. Sometimes they "freeze" the remaining embryos after the transfer. Thus, in different countries, the number of embryos that a woman can transfer may be limited and usually does not exceed two or three. Often, the remaining embryos are not disposed of, but offered to be frozen, so that if desired, they can be used for subsequent pregnancies. In Korea, by law, the term of cryopreservation of embryos should not exceed five years, then they are disposed of.

        The discovery of cryopreservation and its first use in the Netherlands in 1984 allowed thousands of couples to create a bank of their embryos, delaying pregnancy for a certain time period. Embryo cryobank allows women to recover from heavy surgeries, stimulations and carefully prepare for bearing children, and also allows couples to return for siblings afterwards. Also, frozen embryos are a kind of «gold reserve» in the case of terminated pregnancy in the current protocol.

        Consent to cryofreezing and defrosting must be given by both parents, that is, if they have separated for some reason and at least one does not give consent, the embryos are usually disposed of over time. However, storage periods vary from country to country and are not regulated. The chances of pregnancy after defrosting are no less than immediately after ovarian puncture in the IVF protocol. Some researchers even believe that embryos after cryofreezing even become slightly "more tenacious and stronger" than embryos without freezing. Some couples use egg cells or embryo freezing to try to prolong the period of so-called "reproductive youth", that is, to freeze their biomaterial at a younger age, and use it later, when the quality of "fresh material" may deteriorate. If at a later age the woman can no longer bear a child, as an option, the biomaterial is transferred to the surrogate mother. Many well-known people and star-couples do so.

        The method of embryo cryopreservation is applicable to the procedure of so-called "adoption" of embryos. When a childless couple, who cannot receive their embryos in the protocol for various reasons, anonymously, with the consent of the real parents, take the embryos for defrosting and further gestation. Naturally, this procedure is not free, but it can solve the huge problem of obtaining ready-to-transfer biomaterial without involving egg cells and sperm donors.

        Thanks to proper preparation and competent defrosting of her embryo, Ai Qiao Shan finally learned the happiness of motherhood, and flew to Korea from China for her only baby waiting for his mother in the Snow Queen's castle. She and her husband were head over heel with happiness, having learned about the pregnancy. The entire pregnancy was monitored and conducted in Korea by the doctor, to completely eliminate the possibility of problems. In that happy moment, when they saw the bottomless eyes of a newborn baby, the parents realized that all the trials were not in vain!

Korean family model

    Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book "Angels drink milk". 

    Korean youth in the pursuit of invented ideals, wealth, external well-being, high status in society forget about simple things: caring for loved ones, tenderness in relationships, kindness, forgiving mistakes. Fewer and fewer people think about each other, and the culture of consumption is flourishing. Women are not in a hurry to go on maternity leave, as they are afraid of losing their jobs and, accordingly, money. Men are also mostly in no hurry to start a family, as they want to realize their ambitions. And many men and women, which is typical for the Korean mentality, generally remain single for the rest of their lives and live for themselves. And while western countries tend to smooth out differences between the sexes more, South Korean society remains patriarchal despite all trends.

    Outwardly, it seems that the "American" democratic model fully works in Korea: equal rights for all citizens, free participation in political life, equal educational opportunities regardless of gender, religion, identity, and so on. In fact, it turns out that almost all key positions in politics and management of commercial companies are occupied by men. This order has existed since ancient times; a man decides both political issues and issues of self-sufficiency of the family: they work and earn money. A woman's lot, in turn, is different: the birth and upbringing of children, cooking, managing the household, and caring for relatives are all female occupations. Korean men, if they are engaged in these activities at all spend no more than five percent of their time per day doing this.

    But times are changing, the world is counting down to the 21st century, and it is time for the machine of social norms, and sometimes even prejudices, to be transformed according to the requirements of modernity. It seems that someone in Korea has lost the key to this clumsy mechanism! Sometimes it seems that Korean women are being treated by "stronger sex" as "inferior" or "primitive" beings, and in some families even worse than slaves. Husbands, fathers, and brothers believe that their wives, mothers, and sisters should serve them fully at home, and they are only required to work at their jobs and bring money. Housework and child care are taken for granted by women. This attitude to women in society is the root cause of the ever-decreasing desire of young Korean women to have children and get married. It is quite possible to understand now why the feminist movements are so strong in South Korea now. Women want freedom and equal possibilities along with men not only on paper, but also in reality. First of all, they fight for the possibility of a reasonable combination of maternity and professional activities; they want to be able to care for a child without being afraid of losing their job, avoid pressure from the management, and have a decent social benefit. And also of course they do not want to be completely dependent on their husbands!

     Although divorce among South Koreans is not welcome, but in any case, a wife wants to be socially protected, as the growing tension in relations between the sexes often takes quite "wild" forms: domestic violence, prohibitions, blackmail.

    How wonderful to realize that all of the above does not apply to all South Korean families. Most of them are created out of love, live in harmony with the desires of all family members, in caring and respect for each other. It is immensely gratifying that thanks to modern technologies, despite all the circumstances, children's laughter has started to sound in many of these families.


Have you ever walked around Baltimore

         Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book "Angels drink milk". 

 A few dark-skinned girls were dancing twerk[1] on the pavement to music that sounded like "Boom-boom-boom." In general, the Harbor embankment was renovated into a promenade only recently (around 1980-s), before that there were port docks, which were boring and unsafe to walk on. But now it was a very busy and interesting place, lit up in the evening by hundreds of streetlights and advertising signs.

  The city outskirts looked quite gray and boring, but against the background of skyscrapers stood out interesting buildings, for example, a colorful building of a former factory, converted into an entertainment complex. A huge guitar on one of a building side invited passersby to one of the most popular theme restaurants in the world "Hard Rock Café".



    It's not without a reason that in America Baltimore is considered a "gray" and criminal city, in many cases there are good reasons for such a fame. However, this cannot be said about the whole Baltimore, there are places that differ in comfort and peacefulness. For example, a historical quarter Mount Vernon, that in its design resembled old European towns. In the central square of the quarter, it was fun: here and there children scurried around on skateboards; people were taking photos near a huge round gray stele on top of which stood a small statue and near the monument to the national hero riding a dashing horse. Looking at her phone with its built-in navigator, Jin Ho realized that it was a Monument to George Washington. The monument in honor of the first President of the United States was completed in the first half of the nineteenth century and has a height of 62 meters. This is the first monument to the President in America. That column is the main historical monument of Baltimore, inside which the Washington Museum is located on the first floor, and from there a spiral staircase leads up to the observation platform. The girl took the opportunity to climb the stairs, and was amazed by the magnificent view of the Harbor and the entire city from a bird's-eye view.

    Next to the stele and the Washington Monument was another very notable historic building, Peabody Conservatory. It was founded by philanthropist George Peabody in 1857. During the classes at the medical University they heard about this educational institution: due to the American Civil War, the completion of this Greek-Italian building and the opening of the Conservatory were delayed until 1866. In the following years, thanks to the efforts of famous composers, conductors, and other figures in the field of musical creativity, the Institute grew from a small local Academy to a Conservatory known throughout the world. The requirements for applicants and graduates are very high. Since 1977, the Peabody Conservatory has been included in the John Hopkins University, where Jin Ho had been studying at that time.

    The monument to the national hero on a dashing horse according to Google maps turned out to be a statue of Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette in memory of the long US-French military mutual aid. He headed detachments of French volunteers in the struggle for American independence in 1777.



    In general, the Central part of the Mount Vernon quarter was full of statues: both with images of people and animals. For some reason, Jin Ho liked a lion sculpture, with which she took a selfie. Also nearby was a beautiful fountain with a statue of the Greek Cupid in the center of it. The girl did not take photos near the fountain and the statue of Cupid: the sculptor too openly depicted all his anatomic details, as if he was looking up to Italian David's statue[2]. The building of United Methodist Church caught her eye. The Church, built at the end of the 19th century, pierced the sky with its spire to a height of exactly 62 meters: to build anything higher than the monument to George Washington was officially banned. It was no longer surprising that the Foundation of the church was made of red brick, the most affordable material in the "industrial" city.

    Among the tenements of Mount Vernon dated back to the beginning of the 20th century, there were very interesting buildings in the Art Nouveau style that looked incredible in the pictures, but Jin Ho had only time to get some snacks and get to the theater. The girl had dinner in a Chinese cafe. For dinner, she paid $7, which included a huge plate of seafood soup, a similar plate of rice with vegetables and beef, and a teapot of tea. The invariable fortune cookie for tea with giving her a reason to think: "You need to take a break and prepare for the fateful meeting." She wondered what that means.

On the narrow streets on the way to the theater, she repeatedly met groups of homeless people: she tried not to pay attention to these marginal groups. This picture was normal for Baltimore, as for America as a whole. America in this regard is an amazing country: insane luxury and fabulous prices are combined with African poverty.


 



[1]Twerk is a dance in which the movements of the buttocks and thighs are actively used.

[2] David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created in marble between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. David is a 5.17-metre marble statue of the Biblical figure David, a favored subject in the art of Florence.

Such a controversial Las Vegas!

      Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book "Angels drink milk". 

    The life of the city depended on the visiting guests who came here for the sole purpose of spending money. And the more they spent, the more they were welcome. During the day, Las Vegas looked pretty decent: warm sunlight glinted off storefronts and tall office buildings, and the stream of office managers working and scurrying back and forth; sometimes they even met moms with children and elderly retirees. In general, except for the obsessive advertising at every turn, Las Vegas by day was like hundreds of cities in the world, living in the rhythm of complex human relationships. However, everything changed with the coming of darkness…

    Thousands of lights were lit here and there, giving the impression that every building was either a casino or a restaurant or at least a coffee shop. The streets of the city were lit up everywhere with various posters, neon ads, colored lanterns; half-drunk people were entering and leaving the establishments. There were many times more cars on the roads than in the daytime, and they were very expensive cars, brand-name brands. Handsome looking men and women in sumptuous evening dresses came out of them, smelling of the exquisite aromas of expensive perfumes, going either to play or to dinner, not caring at all about those who remained behind the scenes of their elite life. There were plenty of those left behind, too: casino and hotel attendants, drivers of expensive cars, and eventually prostitutes and beggars. The sexual satisfaction industry in Las Vegas is actually approved by the administration and brings in a lot of money, so booming on all the significant streets of the city. Here you can always find "goods" for every taste and purse, and even representatives of non-traditional orientation. Looking from the outside at all this masquerade of wealth and poverty, it becomes quite clear why Las Vegas won the fame of the "City of gambling and sins". Neither the police nor the authorities were in sight, but there were a few big guys standing at the front of each establishment: Vegas had its own mafia and its own rules, everything looked beautiful and luxurious from the outside, and the inside was rotten with mold.

     "Let's go check out the video screen on Fremont Street. By the way, they say it's made in South Korea," Kevin offered.

    "Of course I want to see it!"Jin Ho never stopped admiring the scale of the business industry.

    A magnificent screen-dome in the form of an arch was created by the Korean company "LG" its length was four blocks, and it was as high as thirty meters, it was located on the pedestrian part of Fremont Street. There were some ads and video shows on it, and from time to time clips of songs by popular artists were included. Jin Ho was unpleasantly surprised and shocked to see the public walking along the street: companies of men and women dressed in ridiculous depraved costumes were mostly drunk. The police took a glib view of it. Jin Ho was shocked to see a naked man walking innocently under the screen ing-string pantie sand horns on his head, pretending to be an imp. It was disgusting, but she didn't show it.

    The young couple was completely exhausted that day: they went to the Amusement Park, walked along the main streets of the city, where they had time to see a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Egyptian Pyramid and the figure of the Sphinx, as well as a medieval castle and other Grand buildings. Finally, they decided to visit the chic territory of the "Bellagio" hotel where they sat on a cozy bench in the light of music fountain. Hugging each other, the young people looked with pleasure at the amazing music fountain, which glowed with all the colors of the rainbow.


About Korean orphaned children.

    Paradoxically, there are quite a lot of "abandoned" children in seemingly prosperous Korea, and their parents are mostly alive and are doing well. There are more than 20 orphanages in Seoul alone.


    
Why do they not want to raise their children in their families, but give them up to the state? Mostly, of course, these are children born from the young unmarried mothers, as well as children with disabilities and children from mixed marriages. In the true mentality of Koreans, illegitimate children by definition should not be, this may put shame on the entire family. If a woman is not married, then automatically there should be no children! And even more terrible cases, when children enter the shelter after the divorce: both parents refuse them, explaining the inability to support them financially. In addition, South Korea is probably the only developed country that allows practically unrestricted adoption of orphans to other countries, although this flow has been significantly decreasing in recent years. Many adoption agencies strongly encourage mothers who are in a difficult life situation to put their child up for adoption and then the agencies would start looking for foster parents abroad. Because it is more profitable for these organizations in financial terms. This is just a business built on hundreds of babies who were torn from their mothers' breasts, on the broken psyche of these children and their mothers, perhaps even on the lives of these children: after all, some of them do not live to adulthood in foster homes in foreign countries. Despite the efforts of public organizations of single mothers and social assistance funds, the situation in the minds of people is very difficult to change.

    The majority of the rejected babies are those whose mothers were not given an abortion this is the reverse side of the coin of the abortion ban. There is only hope that the baby, at least, remains alive, has a chance to find good foster parents and get out into the world. Although the fact of being in an orphanage in Korea is usually hidden, as it is usually perceived as a "stigma". It is paradoxical that sometimes even big politicians and heads of entire states find it difficult to find the key to the historical foundations that have "outlived" themselves and take responsibility for new decisions.

    Some steps are still being taken to change the attitude towards orphaned children: Children's day is officially celebrated every year in May, and in the new millennium it has also been called The day of Adoption, as the top authorities thought about the problem of the survival of the nation. On this day, all families who have children, arrange holidays for them, entertain and pamper them in every possible way and the families who do not have children yet may start thinking about adopting a child on the day.

There are also ordinary people with a big kind heart who help children and their future parents to make a step towards each other. For example, one of the photographers in Seoul, Cho Se-Hyun, was once asked to photograph orphans who had reached the age of one hundred days. Why hundred? In traditional Korean beliefs, it was customary to think that if a child lived to the hundredth day, then it was most likely that he would survive in this cruel world. From this photo session, emerged as the project "Letter from Angels",designed to find a Korean mother and father for each orphan. Letter from Angels "is an annual exhibition of photo portraits of children given up for adoption, along with Korean famous politicians, actors and singers. Many of them leave their children messages that are especially touching to read. Every year, an exhibition of photographs of orphaned children is held in major cultural centers, as well as photographs are printed in glossy magazines or placed on stands in the city.

    The trend of recent years is encouraging: after 2015, adoption in Korea slightly exceeded foreign adoption, and the authorities are doing everything possible to ensure that orphans find their own home and loving parents in their homeland. And even better, if every mother, regardless of nationality, gave birth to a child, felt an invisible subtle connection with him and did not allow her to break it under any circumstances the situation would be different! As it is understood by those mothers, who have known the bitterness of intrauterine loss of a child, the inability to conceive, stillbirth. After all, it is not our children who are born, it is the Angels who choose us to become parents and give us a chance to become better versions of ourselves and give these angels everything we have, and most importantly to share our spiritual mercy. 

Visiting the Snow Queen (The method of embryo cryopreservation)

 Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book  "Angels drink milk".               " F...