China's first 'test-tube baby' adjusts life as newsmaker

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-14 08:15:27

Children conceived through IVF are commonly described as "test-tube babies" although in many cases a shallow tray instead of a test tube is used for the procedure.

"They wanted to check it out, if it were possible to have a baby that way. And, it happened," Zheng tells China Daily of the time her parents opted for assisted reproduction.

During an interview at the hospital where she was born and now works, Zheng, 28, says that while her birth brought immense joy to her immediate and extended family, she was ill at ease with the public attention she received in her childhood. Her celebrity status meant being under photographers' flashlight at birth.

It also led curious reporters to her doorstep in Longnan, a prefecture-level city in Gansu, for years after her parents took her home from Beijing. Zheng's mother stayed at the hospital for 40 days after her daughter was born. The doctors wanted to ensure that the child received full care in her early days, other than monitoring her height and weight.

Many people in her hometown, with scant knowledge of assisted reproduction back then, saw Zheng as a "freak" when she was growing up.

Her progressive parents and a loving grandmother though tried to shield her from the insinuations, she says.

Zheng's confidence started to grow in 2008, when the Center of Reproductive Medicine, formerly the Test-Tube Baby Lab, invited her to Beijing to participate in celebrations marking 20 years of the country's successful association with IVF.

That year she realized why the spotlight often fell on her.

"I thought I should be open to it," Zheng says of people's interest in her. "I'm better at handling it now."

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