There are some things that are too easy for an IF blogger to talk about when certain stories are in the news - 66 year old women giving birth, women without heads nor uteri pregnant without assistance, 18 year olds with three kids by three baby daddies, those blasted Duggars in all their procreating-like-rabbits glory - all simple ways to concoct blog posts filled with outrage.

It's Friday and I'm annoyed with my blogging recently anyway, so I will take the easy way out and blog about this and this. The same situation with two (apparently) very different outcomes.

The first couple, from the land of a gazillion lakes or whatever, got pregnant with sextuplets as the result of a Follistim cycle. A quick glance at their personal website reveals that they are religious, and as such, could not possibly fathom selective reduction. Instead, they decided to trust God that everything would work out swimmingly and all six babies would be born healthy and vital.

Unfortunately, the babies were born at 22 weeks, with their weights ranging from 11 ozs to 1lb 3ozs. One of the babies, a boy, has died, and the others are in critical condition. The other set of sextuplets are reported to be healthy, born at over 30 weeks and with weights between 2 and 3lbs. The only complication at this point was the minor issue of ACUTE HEART FAILURE of the mother postpartum. Yeah, that's all. Almost dying and leaving one partner to take care of six children, another glorious side effect of the multiples experience.

I have commented on others' websites before that I could not be any less keen on the multiples experience for myself if I tried. I have absolutely no doubt that I would have selectively reduced a pregnancy of three or more, whether it was my first pregnancy or second. I never had any desire to have an "instant" family and I wouldn't have paused for a moment when making the decision.

I recognise that this would be the best option for me, but not everyone. However, I think it is absolutely insane and selfish to continue with a pregnancy with four or more fetuses. The chances of infant mortality are nothing to be disregarded, not to mention the very increased likelihood of disabilities. It's all well and good to put your faith in God that it will all be taken care of, but how does that help the baby that weighs as much as a jar of jam, hooked up to endless machines?

There are some comments on the Minnesota couple's website from a couple of months ago which scoff at the notion of selective reduction. The gist is, who needs the evil of selective reduction when you have God on your side? One commentor even complimented them on not "buying into" the whole selective reduction idea, which...well, I don't know if I even have words for that level of ignorance.

What if this couple end up with no babies from this experience? Is that the way God wanted it? Rather than undergoing the selective reduction process (whose listing on wikipedia includes infanticide amongst its "see also" category), the babies you felt were a gift from God spent their brief time on earth suffering and in pain. Where is the sense in that?


Caro said...

I couldn't agree with you more, but then I disagree quite often with people who "leave it up to god". I mean they used fertility treatment in the first place shouldn't they have been leaving that up to god too?

j said...

I agree w/ Caro. I may take shit for saying this, but if they had left it up to "G-d's" will, they'd be childless or adopting, or going round some other way.

I don't think that it would be unreasonable for doctors to make patients sign afidavids that swear them to selective reduction in the case of more than say, oh, triplets? You're more likely to have live babies, and live mothers that way.

Jenn said...

The Minnesota couple was told though that they had only two mature follicles and two immature ones that likely would not release an egg. They were told the chance of twins was 25%, triplets 3% and anything higher was "laughable". From reading their website, the clinic said after it was all said and done that she ended up releasing 10 eggs and they had no idea how that happened. It scares the hell out of me because I thought we were really careful to avoid HOM, but it sounds like they were too.

It sounds like they knew they didn't want to reduce and if the info on their website is right, they had no reasonable expectation that they would need to consider it with only two mature follicles.

Flicka said...

i have to say, I am not a big fan of selective reduction and yes, it's because of my religious beliefs. (Note: If you had a selective reduction, I am not judging you. There is no judgement here. Got it?) But I do think this couple acted irresponsibly in transferring that many blasts at one time. Look, if you don't want to selectively reduce, great. But it's selfish to assume that you can circumvent natural methods and get pregnant with sextuplets and expect God to take care of it all. Can he? Sure he can. However, God is not your cosmic boyfriend, always giving you what you want and rescuing you from stupid choices. A little common sense and a better understanding of who God is might have prevented the absolute tragedy this is.

Flicka said...

Okay, Jenn's comment wasn't up when I posted. That makes a difference.

MsPrufrock said...

Regardless of them being misinformed about the likelihood of multiples, they were still given the option of selective reduction, which they chose not to pursue.

Based on what was stated on their website, it was discovered that she was carrying sextuplets a month after the pregnancy test was positive. From the limited amount I know of the process of selective reduction, it is often done around the 9-12 week mark.

I'm not questioning how they ended up with sextuplets in the first place. Obviously there is a lot less control when one is on Clomid, or in this case, Follistim.

Bean said...

Yikes -- what awful stories. Earlier posters have already expressed my thoughts on this, but I just wanted to say "hear, hear!" and that I couldn't agree with you more!

Thalia said...

Obviously i couldn't agree more. Such a disaster, that one family where the babies were born at 22 weeks. Caro's point is how I feel about it. But then none of us are religious, I can't really see the world from their point of view. Maybe there is some religious difference between taking the drug in the first place and then reducing later (the latter affects life, the former doesn't)

erinberry said...

I agree with you 100%. If you are not up to the decision to selectively reduce, then don't have more than three embryos transferred. . I think it's extremely irresponsible to transfer that six embryos. And selfish: 1. The public has to absorb so much cost in caring for micro-preemies, and 2.I just don't believe you can be a great parent to sextuplets. These kids will never get enough one-on-one time with their parents.

DD said...

It's not just irresponible to transfer six (which is not what happened in either of these cases), it's illegal if any RE clinic wants to keep their standing with the CFC or FDA.

I honestly believe that in the MN case, there was no RE involved. Whether or not that would have made a difference is no longer relevant. The damage has been done. I am more angry that somehow these two women have "become the faces of infertility".

If I thought for one second that is how I would now be perceived, a woman trying to birth a litter, I would walk away from treatments w/o a second look.

Em said...

I think it raises valid issues about the use of fertility drugs and the associated risks. I am in agreement with Flicka - I couldn't do selective reduction BUT there is a huge question of responsibility and risk assessment in fertility treatment.

If your beliefs mean selective reduction is not on the agenda, you need to make choices that will lessen the likelihood that you are putting your life and that of your babies at risk.

I also agree with Flicka's comments that God is not your "cosmic boyf". God wants us to use our brains as well and a lot of Christians don't. And then it just, and I speak as someone who considers herself a Christian and prays and tries to nurture an active faith, makes Christians look stupid and then the whole stereotype of 'God-fearing folk' is perpetuated.

May said...

I came and looked at this post when you first put it up, and thought of something to say, and then thought I was talking out of my ass, and then thought I had better check my facts, adn then I slunk away again in silence.

And now I am back in a temper, because at work everyone has been discussing these cases in cheery 'Instant family! Get all the babies done in one go!' terms and I simply could not explain to them how very very dangerous it was. Well, not without getting ranty and judgy and a little more 'informed' than I want people to know I am because, after all, I am not THAT out about my troubles at work, so I shut up there too.

But as one of nine children (Oh, OK, not that many of said nine share the exact same set of parents, but we do all overlap), I just think having big families can be (not is, CAN be) unfair on the individual kids, lost amongst the demands of all the other kids. And six all needing nappies/ food/ burping all at once? Holy hell. And as teenagers, all wanting attention and all getting hormonal about it? HOLY HELL. Do people simply not think more than three weeks into the future?

Which is a completely minor issue compared to the dangers of trying to keep six babies and a woman alive and undamaged for nine months sharing the same torso. But still, it's been bugging me. I bug easily.

electriclady said...

I am right there with you on the not ever, EVER wanting multiples front, especially with my extra special uterine problems. Also on the irresponsibility to the health of both the mother and the babies with these higher order multiples.

On the other hand, while I was fully prepared to reduce if I got pregnant with more than 1, my husband was very uncomfortable with the concept, partially for religious reasons. Yet we triggered (Follistim IUI) with two, possibly three mature follicles. So am I a huge hypocrite? Was I just desperate? Was my RE irresponsible? I don't know. I do know that should I ever want to TTC again, I'll have a big dilemma, because I will not take that risk again. So unless we can get pregnant on our own (HAHAHA), I'm looking at IVF w/single embryo transfer, right off the bat. (And of course even then there's no guarantee you won't get identical twins.)

Kristi said...

Very well put. It's my belief that where multiples are concerned, with the numerous risk factors to both mother and children, that you ought to put your faith in modern medicine first, and God second.

I'm watching John and Kate Plus Eight on the Discovery Health network (do you get that channel?) and while the couple is wonderfully snarky, and I would totally want to be their friends if I lived near them, the mere thought of raising sextuplets and twins (yes, they have both) is enough to make me break out in hives.

bri said...

Just piping up with the already vice opinion that if you are so religious that you wouldn't take measures to prevent the scary outcomes of high-order multiples (ie, reduce) because of religious reasons, then I don't get how you can be messing with fertility in the first place. If it is God's will that you not get pregnant, don't you have to suck it up if you're religious like that? How do you get to pick and choose what part of the will you listen to?

T said...

Wow, a lot of judgements flying around. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to attempt sextuplets (too many reasons to list),but then again, I can't imagine wanting to vote for GW, so there you go.

Twisted Ovaries said...

It's sad to say, but in IF land people really piss me off. I don't know how many times I've seen someone say "If both of them take, we'll just reduce."

Really? Like, snapping your fingers reduce? That easy, huh? Because I was in that spot, and I can tell you-not so easy to reduce from two to one, babe.

And at the other end of the spectrum you have the "I'm having octuplets and I LOVE IT! Praise the baby Jesus and the Fruit Roll Ups I ate! NO, I'm not reducing, that would be WRONG!" So it's ok then to play with your health, your babies' health and all of the rest of the horror that goes along with having 8,000 babies per cycle.

Like I said, people piss me off. I'm sure I piss others off, too.