Sunday, August 17, 2008

Egyptian Septuplets

Suck on that, Jon and Kate! An Egyptian woman (who already has three daughters) decided to take Clomid in order to have a son. Now, before I get into my High Order Multiples (HOM) rant, let me point out some problems with this birth specifically. What doctor decided it would by hunky dorey to give Clomid to a twenty-seven year old, who conceived three children naturally? Beyond that, what sort of Svengali gives Clomid to a family whose income is between $4 and $8 USD a week? I'm thinkin' that it was tough to feed the three girls they had before on that amount. Now they've added seven mouths to feed! Of course, an agency has stepped in and promised them enough milk, and diapers, for two years. Beyond that, one supposes, they might be screwed (if it weren't for the corporate infatuation with HOM). And, so...the international cry has gone out and I predict that these babies will be the only kids in Egypt wearing BabyGap and drinking JuicyJuice until they're eighteen.

I love children. I love babies. Perhaps it's because I love them so much that HOM births make me angry. One thing that makes me angry is the hypocrisy of it all. Every HOM born is guaranteed to have theist parents. These parents didn't pay that much attention to "God's will" when they were infertile. Oh, hell no! They were taking Clomid and self-injecting growth hormones and progesterone, in the hopes that doctors could use an ultrasound machine to guide pipettes and syringes in to harvest eggs from the ovaries...at which point these eggs are fertilized under a microscope and shoved back in the uterus. Fast forward to that first u/s that shows seven viable embryos. "You want us to selectively reduce our babies? How can you ask us to do that? We have to trust God's will and have this litter!" *head desk* You know, note to HOM parents...I would be able to take your faith more seriously if it weren't so arbitrarily applied.

At birth, HOM parents will proclaim that their two pound "infants", who are living by virtue of more medical technology, are miracles. They will try to sell the fact that they loved these babies so much that they couldn't give up on them. What you won't hear is that those children will suffer. Not only were women not meant to have litters, but...babies weren't meant to be born at 26-30 weeks. I'm a NICU mom. For as many times as nurses would try to tell me that my baby was feeling nothing, I know it was bullshit. This is why they ask you to leave the room when they drop an NG tube down your infant's nose. This is why they don't change IVs and/or vent tubes in front of you. In HOM, the problems snowball. It's a guarantee that one of those babies will have a raging infection. It's likely that all of them will have breathing problems and a life long need for a nebulizer. It's likely that one, and often more, will have serious physical and mental disabilities because of their prematurity. Yet, this couple will be turned into martyrs by the theist media and Christian public. These people will hold them up as paragons of virtue and faith. "Weren't they so trusting in the Lord?" No. They trusted in science and medicine and technology. Only when it came down to the decision to selectively reduce did they invoke religion and the will of a deity. In my opinion, there's no compassion involved with having HOM. Rather than give one or two infants a chance to thrive and be born at term, they choose to make six or seven suffer. That's bullshit.

And, if they all make it out of the NICU, they become an attraction. Look at how bad this has become with the Gosselins. Those kids are in front of cameras 18-20 hours a day. Their parents have chosen to sell the children's dignity for cash. They quit their jobs and live off the backs of six innocent kids. There's nothing admirable about that.

/end rant

22 comments:

Poodles said...

I completely agree with you. Abortion is going against "god's will" but invitro isn't?

Horrible horrible hypocrisy!

Erin said...

A healthy mom should never, ever be given Clomid. It sickens me that doctors toss it around so easily, but then, there's a lot about the OB system that sickens me.
I do respect that she said that she plans to breastfeed at least some of them, because as pro-breastfeeding as I am...I think I'd lose my mind attempting to nurse more than two babies.

Deepa said...

" Yet, this couple will be turned into martyrs by the theist media and Christian public."

Is the lady a Christian? I could not figure that out from the article. I bet the fundies would not be as happy if she were a Muslim.

Karen said...

HOM births make me very angry, too. You wanted a son -- are there no orphanages around? No adoption agencies? Are your genes so DAMN valuable that caring for someone else's child is so unacceptable?

As the adopted child of loving adoptive parents, I get a little cranky about this subject. N kids get the shaft of growing up N-tuplets because one kid languishing in an orphanage or foster care couldn't possibly be good enough. Bah.

Gramomster said...

She's going to nurse some of them?!?! Let me guess... the boys...

Oh gag. Just... gag. This HOM bullshit pisses me off no end as well.

Meggles said...

Maybe they think it is a clown car.

Gramomster said...

Just after commenting, I saw a news piece on msnbc.com about an Iraqi woman who used fertility drugs, and had sextuplets. Four survived.

Now, what is her concern?

"How do I feed them?"

Ummmm.... perhaps an issue that could've been considered before continuing with SIX!?!?!?

Amy said...

No pun intended, but AMEN.

Cogito said...

Ugh, yes.

The thing that strikes me is how monumentally selfish such "good Christians*" are. You'd think someone with fortitude and patience supplemented by the Almighty could put the needs of potential babies (and the needs of kids in orphanages) before their own desires. But no. People who have a problem with selective abortion could just avoid treatments that will create too many embryos to support health and quality of life for the eventual babies, which would be the truly noble and moral thing. Instead, these people tout their morals while inflicting life-long suffering on innocent children. All in service of their selfish desire to have babies with their own DNA.

*I have no idea if the Egyptian couple are Christians, but the phenomenon in our country certainly seems linked to faith.

Debbie said...

No one should ever, regardless of his/her religion, have children he/she cannot feed!! Why should any one be expected to feed or clothe these children, just because these people wanted boys? No one, no matter how rich he/she may be, can have whatever he/she wants and expect others to be responsible for the choices he/she made!!!

Jen said...

I've got triplets, and I'm definitely not a theist. Few of my friends on the triplets/quads lists are.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Jen, I hope you understand that when I write these things, it's not with the intent of slighting people who "sort of" fall into what I'm talking about.

If you had triplets becase that's what you wanted and have the means to raise them, then I say "AWESOME!" (and I would love to see pics). If you made the choice to have triplets by reason and informed decision, then I'm not talking about you. :)

Cogito said...

Jen, I think the point is, triplets and even quads are in the realm of normal human biology. To paraphrase Monty Python, seven is right out.

There's a big difference between allowing some greater risk and guaranteeing at least some of your children will have life-long disabilities.

Jessica said...

Hear, freaking hear, pmomma! Very well said. I've always had issue with HOM, and you laid out the problems with it so well. Thanks for this!

Jen said...

Hi possummamma-

Yes, I definitely didn't take it personally- I was just surprised (and thrilled) that when I finally found other HOM parents in 1995 they weren't nearly as religious as I'd thought that they'd be.

I don't really disagree with anything that's been said about HOM, but to put it into a bit of perspective, there is not going to be a real lowering of the HOM rate in the U.S. until there are at least SOME regulations that fertility clinics must follow. We worked very hard up here in Canada to get the "best practices" of the CMA changed to no more than 3 embryos implanted at one time, and strict regulations on when and how fertility meds can be prescribed. Since then (about 2000, I believe), our HOM rate has been dropping, or at least stabilizing. Only about 80% of HOM are caused by fertility interventions- increasing maternal age at conception is another factor, as is long-term usage of birth control pills (or in my case, getting stomach flu while on the pill and throwing it up lol).

Most of the HOM parents that I know (and that's in the hundreds over the years as I used to be extremely active in support work)had been told for years that they would never be able to conceive. I have my own views on fertility treatments, but I try not to judge other people. With no exceptions, none of them tried for HOM. (Although I've certainly heard of women who have).

All of the risk factors for HOM are under-estimated in my opinion- I was lucky that my kids made it until 30 weeks, but my two girls both have lung problems, one of them's had cancer, and all 3 are autistic. Not to mention that the first year is hell, to say the least- there can be a lot of bonding problems as well.

In my experience of talking to so many families, none of them ever really think that there's a chance of getting HOM. I don't know what it's like to struggle with fertility, but I wouldn't assume that it's an easy decision whether to reduce the pregnancy or have an abortion, regardless of your religious views. And the fact is that the rates are NOT going to go down in a for-profit health system, where a clinic's ability to get patients (and make money), is determined by their "success rate". I've seen (and made) a lot of suggestions that HOM births are NOT an indicator of success- I wouldn't trade my kids for anything and I know an awful lot of wonderful HOM children, but it's certainly generally not a good indication of medical "success" in my opinion.

I'll put some pictures up on my blog later and let you know. Now that they're 12 it's a bit harder to get them all to sit in one frame of a picture :-)

feministblogproject said...

Both of my cousins adopted children rather than undergoing fertility treatments, so this is a big issue for me as well. I can't imagine my adopted second cousins not being in our lives - I can't imagine not loving them as much just because they're not biologically related. It makes me sad to think of all the other wonderful kids not getting adopted because people are so desperate to have a biological child.

For a woman who has never had a child but desperately wants to give birth, I can sort of understand. But this woman has had THREE already. She understands the birth process. She couldn't give a non-biological kid a chance?

Rachel said...

As a non-theist mom who's struggled with fertility, I am conflicted about this issue.

I do know that, even when using Clomid, or other similar fertility drugs, conceiving HOM is very rare. And I'm sure that parents who DO conceive HOMs are counseled that the chances of each embryo surviving to the point of viability is even more rare. More pregancies begin as twins or triplets than you'd ever think. Very few actually result in a multiple birth.

I completely agree that it's incredibly irresponsible to have a a child that you can't afford to care for, and I disagree with the hypocrisy and screwy logic of many theist HOM parents. BUT I can also understand that after trying and hoping for years for a child, the decision to give up even just one of the 'litter' must be nearly impossible to make.

And who says that having HOM necessarily means the parents won't be able to find a way to make it work without free formula, diapers or cable network endorsements? If uneducated teenage parents can manage to figure it out...

Dana said...

As a Christian woman who has struggled with fertility, we have explored both adoption and fertility clinic options. Although I am aware that there are many older kids available for adoption, I am one of those people that bonds with kids when they're babies and longs to have a baby, though maybe one day would be ready to adopt an older child. Selfish though this may seem, it seems more unfair to adopt an older child if I am not ready to do that. The wait list to adopt a baby in Canada is quite long, and there is a high demand. I'm sure this is due largely to the abortion rates, which are quite high. We have explored overseas adoption, which is our number one adoption choice because in many overseas countries there are children in need of adoption. We began saving up, but this is no cheap process! You begin to feel like you're buying a baby. I do appreciate the adoption advocacy I hear from many of you though. Life is valuable whether it comes from my womb or not!
Regarding the fertility clinic, I have chosen to have surgery to remove a cyst, etc. that was in the way. I am personally against in vitro because of the destruction of fertilized eggs that is very common with in vitro after a couple has achieved all the pregnancies they want. This is consistent with my pro-life stance. Perhaps a little extreme, but I like the perspective of one person (can't remember whom) who said that we don't know exactly when life starts, but we certainly know God intended to make a baby (i.e. from a fertilized embryo). So for me to take advantage of medical science to do what's reasonable deal with barriers to conception but not go beyond that is consistent with my faith. Incidentally, I'm 7 weeks pregnant now!

aimee said...

Congratulations Dana. I hope everything goes well for you and you have a happy and healthy pregnancy and birth.

Karen said...

My congratulations also to Dana. I hope it's a trouble-free pregnancy and a joyful parenthood.

Dana said...

Thank-you Aimee and Karen for your kind words and wishes :)

spyderkl said...

I had Clomid as my first step on the Infertility Highway (got off it about 10 years later, when we decided to adopt or be childfree), and it made me crazy. Seriously, seriously crazy. I can't imagine what it would have done for/to somebody who clearly didn't need it.

There are plenty of religious people out there who do believe that IVF is "going against god's plan". In fact, when we decided against IVF, a lot of people who didn't know us thought we were Catholic. Just too broke to even try, thanks for asking...