It is all over the news today - octuplets (that is 8 babies, for those of you who are trying to count here...) born to a California single mom...who reportedly already has 6 kids. Wowie!
My own twins were born as a result of fertility treatments. At 30 years old, I was 2 years out from cancer treatment and, although I had the go-ahead from my oncology doctors to try to get pregnant, my body did not seem to be responding. After almost losing my life to lymphoma, I was looking for a fast track to motherhood. Tracking my cycle on a daily basis was incredibly taxing and I was in "carpe diem" mode. I wanted this so badly! So I headed back to Stanford, this time not to the cancer center, but to the fertility center. My husband and I underwent all the tests and everything was fine. The theory was that my egss were "old" due to the chemo I underwent. I did clomid for 3 months - nothing. We decided to go for bigger guns and do IUI (intrauterine insemination) with Gonal-F injectable drugs. The first cycle, my body finally responded. I had 9 - NINE! - eggs ready to go. 5 of them looked to be a good size. As our doctor told us this news, my husband and I immediately agreed with her suggestion to abandon this cycle (well, we actually didn't abandon it, but they gave me the HSF shot to trigger ovulation early, being fairly certain that nothing would probably take, or if anything, one would take). We didn't want to be put in the situation of having to choose between selective reduction (what a lovely term) or to carry way too many babies. Not for me, thank you very much. As predicted, nothing took. The next cycle, we had 2 good eggs and they both took. Voila - twins!
It turns out that maybe I didn't "need" fertility treatments after all. I did respond very well to the drugs. Maybe it was a matter of getting a kick-start, after having been in temporary menopause from the chemo. Maybe it was a matter of relaxing. Who knows. But I had a surprise pregnancy 19 months after the twins were born. It was a beautiful thing and now I have 3 children - if you would have told me when I began fertility treatments that I would have 3 kids 3-years-old and under, I would have said you were crazy. But things happen. Life happens. (We're done now, by the way.)
I don't know the details about this octuplet mom. I don't know how she got herself in the situation or what I would do if I were in her shoes (although, for me, that is tough to imagine...). There actually are people who have high-order multiple births naturally, without fertility treatments - rare, but true. I'm guessing she did undergo fertility treatments - there are some rumors that a sperm donor was used - and maybe she is one of those people who responds very, very well to those drugs. Here's what I do know - I know that she will need A LOT of help.
I can see both sides of the ethical debate that is brewing. On the one hand, one adult taking care of 14 children (do the math!) seems completely irresponsible. She CANNOT do it on her own, so who will be paying for it? The state? Corporations who sponsor her? A TV show? Then again, why is it any of my business - any of the public's business. Having children should be a personal affair. But then, how can it be private and personal when it will affect - and burden - the public?