As much as I hate to give the Octomom anymore press. I feel compelled to speak up because I’ve never been quiet or secretive about my infertility issues and I fear that the recent events surrounding the Octomom may cause other infertile couples and their families or friends to have a misinformed view of fertility treatments. Whether or not you agree with or would ever receive fertility treatments; here is what I want you to know.
While it’s easy to judge those who are facing infertility you will never know what you would do for sure, until you are in that situation.
The goal is ALWAYS to have ONE child at a time. While there is a risk of multiple pregnancy most reputable clinics consider any multiple pregnancy to be a failure, although they generally have less strong feelings about twins. Most couples or women seeking IVF treatments do so out of desperation for a child. Not a desire to make the news or get a show on TLC.
There is no excuse for being misinformed or uneducated about fertility treatments. There are many online support forums and informational websites. Unfortunately, many people in our society just blindly do what the doctor says. They do not research their medical providers or become their own medical advocates and that is a mistake. Before beginning treatment with a medical provider you should check their stats.
All reputable Doctors give you your options. It is the patient’s duty to discuss with their medical provider what they are comfortable with. In our case I made it very clear I would NEVER be comfortable with selective reduction which is basically an abortion. That said, I also made it very clear I didn’t want to be put in any position where I’d have to face a recommendation of selective reduction.
When starting an IVF cycle you are tested for everything known to man as is your spouse. As the recipient of treatments for all 4 of my children I am embarrassed by the number of AIDS tests and STD tests I’ve had to take. I fear someone at the local hospital is probably wondering if I have an illegal night job. Perhaps included in this should be a mental health exam. I know it reeks of Big Brother, but I’m just sayin’. Why a doctor would continue treatments on someone who already has 6 children (they obviously cannot afford), is on wellfare, lives with her elderly mother and is unemployed is beyond me.
Legislation needs to be passed and laws need to change. Insurance providers need to provide coverage for fertility treatments. By not doing so they are causing otherwise well meaning but desperate couples to put all of their eggs (literally) into one basket and roll the dice on having high order multiples because each try can cost $20,000-40,000.
Infertility is big business. But behind the business is an exact science. Unfortunately the CDC rates doctors on their stats based upon live births. If one patient gives birth to 8 babies who live for even 24 hours that counts as a live birth and that Doctor’s stats look good, on paper anyway. When researching Doctors and comparing stats you need to look at the entire CDC report including the average amount of embryos transferred. A doctor that is transferring more than 2 embryos in a woman under 35 is probably trying to pad his/her stats and you should beware. After I had twins, even though I was well within the age range for a 2 embryo transfer, my Doctors at St. Barnabas wanted to move my protocol to a single embryo transfer.
Society needs to stop glorifying those who would have so many children and reward them with cars, houses, reality shows, free food, diapers and medical care. By doing so we are enabling people like the Octomom who seek fame and fortune. Dr. Phil recently said we need to put our feelings aside and think of the children and donate to the cause and encourage large companies to as well. While I agree we need to think of the children I disagree with Dr. Phil. Even if the Octomom gets a free house, diapers, new furniture & supplies from Target and organic baby food for a year it won’t really help matters. It will only put a band aid on the situation. What happens when the youngest of the 14 children are 9 or 10 and not so cute and marketable anymore? What then? Will they end up in foster care where they will likely remain until they age out of the system? If they are adopted which family will adopt 14 older children at once? As harsh as it sounds I believe its better for the children to be taken away from her at this time where they will at least have an opportunity to be adopted by a family that can actually afford to feed them and has the space for them.
You cannot pick the sex of your children when doing IVF. Despite some media folklore this isn’t about making designer babies. Unless you have a medical condition that is transferred to a particular sex your doctor has no idea if he/she is implanting a male or female embryo. So while I may have two boys and two girls—-it just happened that way. There are many other families with an even distribution of the sexes who didn’t have fertility treatments at all.
Anyone choosing to participate in an IVF cycle must decide what they will do with the embryos that are created. Embryos can be frozen indifinetely but at an annual expense of up to $2500 and that number is rising! How many children do you intend to have? How many can you afford emotionally and financially? Don’t wait until AFTER you are in that situation to think it through. You may live to regret it.
And finally, there should be no shame in seeking fertility treatments. It is a medical condition for which there is a treatment. Although not all women have a desire to be a mother, it is a natural biological urge for those who do. Think about that before you start judging someone going through fertility treatments. By the time they have reached that step they have already been through so much…have a little compassion.