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January 31, 2009

2-4-6-8 – lady you have too much on your plate! (the Octomom)

-13 Much has been written in the last few days about the California woman who gave birth to what many would call a litter, not a group of babies. The news story broke with much excitement surrounding the miraculous medical marathon surrounding the birth of these octoplets. 

Doctors stood before the cameras and boasted about the 40 some-odd medical experts that helped deliver these babies. Seven teams stood ready with the letters A through G pinned to their scrubs, designating which of the expected babies they would be responsible for. I suppose there was a staff member with a magic marker at the ready to create Team H when that little surprise popped out.

Not knowing anything about the mother of these babies or her family circumstances, it was not hard to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. The doctors made the whole event truly seem like a miracle. This mother of two (quite enough for me, thank you) could not avoid feeling elated for parents who had tried so desperately make a family where there was none. 

Until I snapped out of the media induced stupor that I had fallen, stopped drinking the 'what a blessing' kool-aid that was being doled out by the bucketful and realized that the mother of these children would most probably be hard pressed to pass a full psychiatric evaluation, let alone be fit to raise a family of any kind, let alone 14!

Too harsh, you say? Judgmental? Inflexible and lacking empathy? Judging by today's Google search that yielded 391,000 results when I searched 'california octuplets' I am thinking I am not alone in my distaste for the actions of this woman, and more concerning, her physicians.

Perhaps I should back this up and give a little history on what colors my opinion. I watched helplessly while a couple navigated the roller coaster of infertility and wept tears of joy when beautiful twin baby girls came into the life of one of my oldest and dearest friends. I can still remember where I was standing when I got that phone call, and I never fail to get chills at the sight or mention of these two. In my view, fertility specialists provide hope and fill homes with families that could not ever dream of biological offspring years ago. This is truly where science meets miracles. And this case makes a mockery of that process.

I pass no judgement whatsoever on what size a family should be. I have the utmost respect for mothers who can juggle a large family and do not believe that anyone should determine how many kids is enough for another woman – within reason. I certainly do not hold to the idea that the traditional family of a mom, dad and kids is the only way to go. Truthfully, some of my closest friends are single moms by choice and they should never have to defend that decision to anyone.

All that said, the idea that a single mother, without the support of her own parents who deem her obsessed with having babies, would choose to have 8 more after already bringing 6 into this world is highly suspicious. 

Suspicious indeed. News stories now report that the mother is seeking two million dollars from media interviews and commercial sponsorships to pay for the care of her family. She is planning a career as a television childcare expert. Could this woman have set out from the very beginning of her journey into motherhood not to create a family but to build a brand, a property, a career around having children?

The ethical hell storm that this woman has spawned along with all her many tiny, helpless victims is so very disturbing. Medical professionals are appalled at the irresponsible actions of her fertility team in taking such a risk by implanting so many embryos. But is that the true ethical question here?

Why are we, as mothers, so disturbed by this story? I can answer only for myself. I look into the faces of my two children and think of the amount of time and energy it has taken to raise them into the young adults they have become. The countless hours walking the floor with sick kids, the hours of homework and carpooling, dance recitals, soccer games and school plays, disappointments and victories. Then I multiply it by seven and subtract one husband, two incomes and four supportive grandparents. How can any woman compromise the health and welfare of 14 human beings of her own flesh and blood in the name of fame and fortune. 

And why on earth would any doctor choose to play a part in that crazy psychodrama?

Ok, so much for not passing judgement.

Original 50-something Moms Blog post. Posted by Amy Zimmerman. Amy also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zipcode



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