Super Multiple Births: WTF are Some People Thinking?

With the media once again cooing and going goo-goo/ga-ga over another freakish maternity event, let’s take a moment to ponder why medical intervention gone seriously wrong generates such awe and wonder.

I was living in Iowa quite nearby when the McCaughey septuplets were born about a decade ago. I actually knew about it before it hit the news because one of the nurses taking care of the mother was a regular at the bar where my late husband’s pool team played league, and she had spilled the beans to a few of the patrons.

Des Moines was the center of a media storm for a while. Like the Magi, they came to worship the medical cojones that granted a childless couple this modern day miracle. Except they weren’t childless. They had a little girl already and were suffering from secondary infertility. In order to conceive a second child, the mother was put on fertility drugs, monitored and scheduled for an insemination. The cycle, however, produced too many follicles (possible eggs) and the doctors made it clear that higher order multiples (more than twins or triplets) could very well be the result. They were advised to skip the cycle and try again, but the couple was cash strapped. They couldn’t afford another cycle right away and decided to gamble. Because, I guess, another cycle was more expensive than raising quads or quints would have been?

I never shared in the septuplet love. I didn’t think it was a miracle. I still don’t. The McCaughey’s took a huge risk and two of the seven children have paid for it with multiple disabilities.

I know it’s risky to debate because children are born and viable and growing into distinct beings, but once they were merely ideas and potential and it was at that point the feasibility of gestating, birthing and raising them should have been considered rationally.

The California mother of eight is actually a mother of 14 as she already had six other children between the ages of 2 and 7. Without a baby daddy in sight, she is living with her parents. Her father has decided to return to Iraq to find work to support her and his grandchildren (which makes the immigrant in me wonder about the families’ legal status).

There is so much wrong with this scenario it’s hard to know where to begin criticizing, but the lack of any specifics about the circumstances that surrounded the conception, the woman’s partner, her financial position (the family supposedly filed bankruptcy a year or so ago in addition to walking away from an existing house and its mortgage) and why someone in her mid-thirties with six kids already and living with her parents was even considered by a fertility clinic in the first place.

I am not opposed in any way to fertility treatments. My daughter is a product of IVF and began her existence with a twin even, but I was able to support the fruits of my womb and neither the McCaughey’s or this new mega mommy in California were in positions to take care of a horde of babies who would do nothing but grow and consume for the rest of their lives.

As I used to tell my high school students,

“If you cannot take care of a baby without assistance from your parents and/or Uncle Sam, you are not in a position to entertain the idea of parenthood.”

The McCaughey’s got a house and I believe a brand new vehicle along with a mountain of other baby products and community assistance because they were freaks celebrities. I wonder what the baby fevered will be offering in return for pimping the octuplets? Because you can bet someone is right now dreaming up ways to capitalize on one woman’s foolishness.

13 thoughts on “Super Multiple Births: WTF are Some People Thinking?

  1. The way I see it, while I don’t agree with the choices these people have made, I think they get a bad rap just because they had so many at one time. However, they are NO different from the single teenage mom living off wellfare because her and her boyfriend didn’t want to use protection. There are a lot more people out there living of the tax payers then these few families and those people need just as much of a reality check.

    1. There is a terrible misconception about teen moms in the U.S. First that they are a huge group of welfare sucks. Not true. Between Reagan and Clinton the vast majority of moms on welfare where transitioned back to the workforce to join the working poor. Second that teens don’t use birth control. They do. But they often don’t use it properly because access to sex ed in schools is poor. Third that teens are the largest group of women having kids without marriage. Actually women in their twenties/thirties have more children out of wedlock and accidently than teens do.

      Thanks for stopping by and offering an opinion.

  2. I’m a little alarmed at the idea of planting 8 embryos at once. I kinda get not reducing the number of them once they’re all viable, but… What were they all thinking? The mother, the facility… Something is so wrong with this situation, and those children will undoubtedly pay the biggest price.

  3. there’s a deeper issue – with true miracles possible with state-of-the-art medical/surgical procedures in the US, we have a sense of entitlement to the latest and greatest treatment for ourselves and our families – cost be damned. extreme example? conjoined twins. complex surgery, costing millions in a few noteable cases. who pays? who decides? if the ‘marketing’ of the situation (ie: first interview with parents of newly separated babies) would offset your medical costs, would you do it?

  4. I didn’t know what to think either and I was troubled, so thank you for writing this piece. All I was doing was going ‘it’s wrong… it feels wrong, so isn’t it? But then am I saying it’s wrong to want kids? Am I saying it’s a burden to have a child with disabilities? I don’t think so but it still feels wrong’
    Actually I’m still doing that but it helps a lot to know I’m not the only one having issues with the issue!

  5. I don’t think there will be marketing deals for this mother and her babies. I think most Americans are very disturbed by this whole situation.

  6. I agree with your assessment. If you can’t take care of them without help, don’t have ’em. And I realize that sounds really heartless to some people. Just my opinion. And still being in Iowa I never hear anything about the McCaugheys anymore except the yearly updates they do.

    Eventually high order multiples are too old to be considered cute for marketing purposes, and in the case of the McCaughey’s the two with CP are glaring contrasts that underscore the danger of these types of pregnancies.

  7. I don’t think this woman is likely a fan of Frank Herbert’s series Dune, but as more of her situation comes out in the media, she sounds more and more like an Axlotl Tank of the Bene Tleilax.

    Per Wikipedia article:

    “An axlotl tank is essentially a brain-dead woman whose womb is used as a tank to create gholas. The Bene Tleilax’s use of their women in this capacity explains why no one has ever seen a Tleilaxu female.”

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