Every child is a blessing, but…

…8 babies at once? Seriously??

Yesterday, a woman in Southern California gave birth to octuplets, only the second set to be born in the United States. (The first set of octuplets were born in 1998 in Texas, but one died within a week of its birth.) So far, all of the babies are alive and holding their own, and I’m praying that they continue to thrive and are completely healthy.

I was fortunate in that I did not experience any fertility issues, and I am blessed with three healthy children. I know how strong the desire to have children can be, and I don’t begrudge any woman who chooses to take extreme measures in order to experience motherhood via biological means.

And yet, I do take issue with the doctors who allowed this woman to become pregnant with 8 babies at once. It is extremely dangerous for the woman, and for the children. I do not advocate “selective reduction”, but with the advances in fertility treatments, that should not be necessary. Doctors should be able to control the number of eggs that are released (via the dosage of fertility drugs) or set strict limits on the number of embryos that are implanted (in the case of IVF). I think that, too often, doctors get caught up in what they CAN do, without regard as to what they SHOULD do. Fertility treatments aren’t like a retail business, where “the customer is always right.” Some women have gone so far as to lie about their age in order to qualify for IVF (like the 63-year-old in California a few years ago), and last year, a woman in India gave birth to twins at the age of 70.

To her credit, the mother in this case has refused to reveal her identity, or any details about how it is that she became pregnant with so many babies. In doing so, she is forgoing the usual “instant celebrity” that comes with an usual birth like this one, but she’s also protecting herself and her children from the harsh spotlight and tough questions that are sure to come her way. I hope she continues to keep her children’s best interests at heart, and that she gets the support she needs for the long road ahead.

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