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January 31, 2009

How many kids is too many?

-1 When the news first broke on Monday that a woman gave birth to a set of octuplets, the jokes came fast and furious. She's just one short of a baseball team, she has a full set of players for basketball including subs, give the kids instruments and she has a small orchestra! And if they're truly Cheaper by the Dozen, then she got a discount!

Then we learned she already had six children at home, lived with her parents, and the father of the children was nowhere to be found. And the lighthearted jokes stopped, to be replaced with deeply serious questions.

Fourteen children? How many is too many? Fourteen children under the age of seven? That's an elementary school! Fourteen children? Really? The mind boggles.

The mother has not met with the press yet, citing privacy concerns. Understandable. I was in no shape with meet with anyone after the birth of my sons, and there was certainly no controversy around them. The fertility doctor has not come forward yet either. Not as understandable; he has some serious ethical questions to answer.

And today the news got stranger and more disturbing. According to the Associated Press, the mother of all these children conceived them all through in-vitro fertilization, is not married, and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager. Up until I read that article, and please click through and give it a read, I was supportive of the mother. As a mother, I truly believe that I cannot judge another mom because I do not walk in her shoes. I do not know what her life is truly like, what influences her decisions, what is not seen behind closed doors. If you want to have a large family, go ahead. Not for me, but if it works for you, swell. But this stretches me past that.

If the role of a mom is to put children before self (up to a point), to care and provide for those children, to ensure they have a strong foundation on which to build a future...how is her obsession benefiting those children? As mentioned in the article, the mother has a child with autism. The eight just born will have significant medical issues over the next several months, likely the next several years. She is going to have her hands full, and from the sounds of it, won't have much help from her parents. Not married, little family support, at least one special needs child and very likely more...how is she going to raise these children? What kind of life will these children have? Who is going to help her?

There are also some very pointed questions that need to asked of the fertility doctor who implanted those eight embryos in a woman who already had six children. I suppose "WHY?" and "What were you thinking?" may top that list, but also as important are "How is she paying for these services?" and "Do you not realize that ethically, this is not right?"

I suspect that the mom has deep issues with family and children, and someone has prayed upon those. Those are my opinions, no one else's. It's the only thing I can think of that would induce someone in her situation into having this many children. If you want to have a large family, good for you! The Duggars come to mind here. While I do not understand that choice, I respect it because it was a choice made by a couple for their family. A single mom with an obsession with children, having 14 children by in-vitro fertilization, with minimal support from family...that I have a harder time respecting. It smacks of selfishness.

More of this story will come to light over the next several days and weeks, and I'm sure there will be more jaw-dropping details to come. I wish the best for the mother and her children, and pray that the babies grow quickly into healthy kids. But I do not understand this mom. I do not understand this obsession with having children that seems to have trampled common sense, that has come at the expense of the children. The mom needs help, and not just with raising fourteen children under the age of seven.

This is an original Rocky Mountain Moms Blog post.

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When her two sons are otherwise occupied, Jen also writes over at Never a Dull Moment and Hopeful Parents.

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