Everyone’s been asking me about the woman in California who delivered octuplets this week. Apparently I’m an expert on fertility treatments and multiples.
Usually I don’t pay attention to stories like these. But today I read that she’s also the mother of six other children. No one knows much about the mother (which I give her credit for), but from the article I read on msnbc, it sounds like she lives with her six children at her parents.
Now I hate to pass judgments on people I don’t know, without knowing their story, but I hate how the media romanticizes these extreme multiple births at the same time passing judgment on people who use fertility treatments to get pregnant in the first place.
A couple months ago, ABC News ran a story featuring the Jon and Kate Plus 8 family and the dangers of IVF. The story was the most ill informed story I had ever read. First of all, the couple they were using as an example didn’t even do IVF. They supposedly did a combination of fertility medications and IUI.
In a normal cycle, a woman releases one egg a month. If that egg is fertilized with a sperm, it may or may not implant into the awaiting uterine wall. With IVF, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated and harvested, then combined with the sperm and inserted a day or so later back in the uterus where it may or may not implant. Most doctors I have worked with, or know of, would never insert more than two or three (in the most extreme cases) to prevent the possibility of extreme multiples, a condition that is extremely dangerous to mother and babies.
You tend see more extreme multiple gestations from the combination of fertility meds and IUI. In these cases the ovaries are stimulated to release more than one egg. Sometimes the medications can produce 20 or more eggs (which was my case in many instances). At this point, most doctors will cancel the cycle to prevent extreme multiples or harvest the eggs for later IVF. But some do not.
When I initially heard about the octuplet story, I assumed it occurred from a combination of fertility meds and IUI, but the NBC story alludes that the mother had more than 8 embryos inserted into her uterus, which would actually be IVF. I’m hoping this is another instance of a poorly researched story, because I do not know of any doctor who would do such a thing….especially if the woman already has six children at home!
The story also mentions the fact that the mother rejected the idea of selective reduction, where they abort a number of the fetuses for the sake of the others. This is one of the cruelest realities of fertility problems…you finally are pregnant after so, so long, but have to make this awful decision. It was because of this that we were pretty conservative in our approach, but as someone who struggled for so many years without success, I can see the thought process of “the more you have, the more likely it will work.”
However, the story of the woman in California made me angry. I’m hoping there is more to the story than what has been printed so far, and I appreciate the mother’s decision not to go public. I guess I see fertility treatments as a way to help people, like us and many of our friends, to achieve the families they want. When I hear someone using such extreme measures to get pregnant, when she already has six children, I feel like she’s abusing and giving a bad name to a system that has helped so many.
I am very thankful for my twins. I cannot tell you how much I love them already. Both are pretty active, but shy away when Daddy wants to feel. I’ll be at 22 weeks this Sunday and have another ultrasound next week. My goal is to get everything out of the nursery (all the junk I’ve collected over the past 7 years) and basic furniture in by the time of my first shower the end of February. My birthday last week was fun, as I received mostly clothes for the babies.
Well that’s all for now. A bientot.