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January 31, 2009

Eight Babies and Six More at Home...Was her Doctor on Crack?

-1  When I first heard that a woman had given birth to octuplets to be quite honest I was not all that surprised. In recent years it seems every woman pushing 40, whose biological clock is thumping and making her painfully aware that if she doesn't try to have that baby soon her chances to conceive might just evaporate, is seemingly by "divine intervention" giving birth to multiples.

Believe me, I am all for every woman getting her chance to experience pregnancy, but having undergone fertility treatments myself, I also feel  that there have got to some checks and balances when it comes to how many  babies a woman should be ALLOWED to carry.

I know what it's like to feel that yearning each month, counting the days of your cycle, grieving when each month it doesn't happen and having to continually endure the grueling process of trying; timing sex, screaming at your spouse when he's not in the mood, knowing full well- you've got a tiny window in which to get pregnant and hoping that this month you'll finally see those two magnificent lines on the EPT stick.

When it didn't happen naturally after over a year of trying the old-fashioned way-and in an effort to save the fractured relationship my husband and I found ourselves in, I decided it was time to see a fertility specialist. During our very first appointment- in between my sobbing- the doctor was gentle but very adamant about the fact that if we were to embark on this process I needed to be aware that he was not in the business of giving me a litter. While he knew giving me meds to increase my ovulation was necessary- he would NOT do it to the detriment of my health or that of my unborn baby.

And that is the key here; women's uteruses were not built to carry a litter  of eight babies to term- and are usually stretched beyond their natural capacity at merely carrying twins.

While I don't know the specifics of this woman's case- although bits of information are being leaked... she had IVF...she always wanted many kids..and the kicker- she's already got six kids at home; the birth of these babies should not be something that is revered; rather it should be viewed as a gross misuse of reproductive medicine.

Sure pseudo-celebrities/reality stars Jon and Kate Gosselin and their group of multiples, one set of twins and one set of sextuplets, have their own TLC show and have  been bestowed rock star status in their charming portrayal of a married couple who attempt to manage a household run amuck with three-year-olds. While I personally don't quite get their appeal ( in my opinion Jon Gosselin, looks like a man just teetering on the edge of walking out for a quart of milk, never to return again)  I guess their show might possibly provide hope to couples trying in vain to conceive just one child and that, like the Gosselins, their dreams to get pregnant will be granted too. But, in my humble opinion, in the case of the Gosselins, dipping into the world of reproductive medicine as often as they did is just plain selfish, and irresponsible on both their part and the part pf their physician.

What about the thousands of multiples born with life-long physical and cognitive disabilities? Will this mom to octuplets be receiving aid from her local government-and our tax dollars to fund her desire to have these kids? Where are the gatekeepers monitoring the use of reproductive medical techniques?

This is an original post to NYC Moms.

Melissa Chapman is a weekly columnist for the Staten Island Advance, blogs at Kids in the City , contributes to She Knows, iVillage and Time Out NY Kids


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