More on the octuplets

I now seem to be the repository for all things “octuplet” since blogging the other day.  I was sent an article by Lisa Belkin of the N. Y. Times in which she sounds a lot like me.

exerpt:” In all the conversation since yesterday’s announcement that octuplets had been born in southern California yesterday — the talk of ethics, and lingering disabilities, and selective reduction, and cost of care — the part I kept coming back to is that the mother told her doctors she plans to breastfeed.” (end of exerpt) Full article here

True to my prediction, the press has been sniffing out details whether the mother likes it or not. Even the daily gossip sheets in the U.K. are getting a lot of mileage out of sketchy information that the mother already has 6 other children and lives with her parents. 

Many of the comments on my blog post that appeared on nursing digests ran in the direction of “you’re not positive enough about the miracle of the octuplets”.  One of my friends who is a respected lactation consultant sent me this note privately:

“Boy, am I with you on this one!
Even at its best, these “induced multiples” tend to happen to older mothers – the kind who have a harder time learning to mother even one.  Are any of the fertility multiples in their teens yet?  I’d love to see how they’re turning out.
And I’ve wondered if there’s an ethical cap on the number of embryos that can be implanted, and whether that cap has changed as survival has increased.

I once had a client with PCOS whose first baby was the product of fertility drugs.  He had been one of twins, but the other one didn’t survive the first half of gestation.  The next time around there were three embryos.  I really felt for her; she was hoping for a singleton but at the same time didn’t want to hope that two of her children would die.  It was a tough time.  Then it got tougher.  All three survived, so they went into high gear, parenting a 2-3 year old and three premies/babies/now toddlers.  They’ve managed… but most people want more than “managing” out of their family life.  And of course with “only” three babies there’s no commercial help or money.  Just two parents slogging along better than expected with a litter when what they wanted was a baby.

Octuplets to be breastfed, my foot!”

4 thoughts on “More on the octuplets

  1. After reading your last two posts, I wanted to clarify a widely held misconception that IVF is the origin of high-order multiples. Almost all high-order multiples are from fertility drugs (usually ones given to boost ovulation like Clomid) given to the woman, not from embryo implants. I went through IVF a few years ago, and it’s considered not ethically sound to transplant more than two embryos except in really exceptional situations (the mother is older, has done multiple rounds of IVF already that didn’t work, etc) in which they might transfer 3. Even with the two embryos, that is the limit, not necessarily the norm, and the couple is given the decision of whether or not they want 1 or 2 transferred. And the direction is moving more and more towards only doing 1 embryo per transfer, since the success rates are about the same (doing 1 fresh and then 1 frozen the next cycle, for example, versus transferring 2 at once). Anyway, IVF always gets the bad rap in these cases when it’s almost always fertility drugs that are the culprit.

  2. This is today’s update on the ABC News (not that they are credible) site:
    “The woman’s mother, Angela Suleman, told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter had indeed undergone fertility treatments and that the embryos were implanted last year. According to Suleman, when the woman learned that she was carrying multiple babies, she opted not to reduce the number of embryos.

    ABC News’ Mike Von Fremd visited the home of the woman, who lives with her parents on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Los Angeles suburbs. With none of the typical joyful markings of a new arrival — balloons, storks, flowers — visible, the family and most immediate neighbors wanted nothing to do with the media.

    “Do us a favor, give us our privacy and get out, shame on you, shame on you,” a man from inside the house screamed at Von Fremd.”

    Sad situation all around. Gloria

  3. It does appear these embryos were transferred, which raises the ethical dilemma of why. This mother already had 6 children, why would any doctor take such a risk with a mother and her offspring to do something like transfer at least 8 embryos. It is a sad situation.

    The reality of these 8 babies getting donated breastmilk for very long is poor. There is the “awwwww” factor which can carry one for a while, but I would imagine many mothers tire of donating to an endless bucket of need. Most mothers of singletons are only able to get friends to donate for a little while.

  4. I request that we don’t discuss this anymore. As this info becomes more sad and worrisome, I am feeling guilty about judging another woman. The press can be so cruel and I don’t want to participate in trying to figure out what’s true or not. I’ll stop allowing posts on this thread from now on and I may even remove what’s here now. Thanks for understanding. Gloria

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