Heartwarming Family Drama

The following is rated S for Satire…

I live by Faith. Faith is a cardinal virtue. So why bother with smoke alarms or fire escapes? When my thrifty plan to recycle paper towels by drying them in the gas stove backfired–so to speak– I knew that Faith would save us. When I had to drop the twins out the window, I had no fear.

Others are amazed that their onesies caught on the awning, saving them from splatting on the pavement. But I know that it was My Faith that made it happen.

And now I’m a celebrity. The press is celebrating the miraculous survival of two innocent babies who dropped gently into the arms of panicked bystanders. As their mother, I enjoy it, and I’ve sold the story to the Inquirer to help replace our worldly possessions, which were all burnt to a crisp.

My own survival is more prosaic. While I am grateful to the firefighters who risked their lives to save me, let’s remember that they were volunteers, and they get a stipend. It’s what they’re supposed to do.

I look beyond them to the power of Faith. That’s because I’m so spiritual. I’m funny that way.

The following is rated A for Appalled…

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The birth of octuplets in California, hailed as a medical triumph by doctors who delivered the tiny infants, has dismayed fertility experts who say high-number multiple births are an outcome they work hard to avoid…

…experts in reproductive health say an occurrence of octuplets represents a likely case of fertility assistance gone awry, posing grave risks to the health of the mother and her premature offspring.

“The cost of taking care of multiples is huge,” said Dr. Vicken Sahakian, director of the Pacific Fertility Centre in Los Angeles. “It’s not going to finish when the babies go home. There’s a high likelihood they’re going to have (long-term) medical and psychological handicaps.”

For that reason, the U.S. medical establishment has long-standing guidelines designed to reduce the probability of multifetal pregnancies.

The following is rated G for Grateful

The octuplets seem to be doing amazingly well. I hope that their pediatric team will be vigilant in standing up for their welfare, because their mother does not seem to me to be reality-based. Anyone who thinks this was a good thing to do–don’t try to get into Guinness by going for nine. If you want to get attention, put your own self at risk, not your helpless baby.

The following is rated R for Real Life

This little house in Pawtucket is ready for a baby, but she is no ordinary baby. Three days after the oxygen arrives, Teagan Grant will come home for the first time. Born the previous June, 16 weeks premature, Teagan has spent the first seven months of her life in the hospital. And she’s going to need industrial-strength assistance just to stay alive.

The Grants are one family, of many, who dedicate themselves to caring for a baby who came into the world in crisis. It was an ordinary pregnancy until it wasn’t, and the Grants had to make each decision with limited information and no time. Teagan has had some tough breaks, but she has wonderful parents and many friends. Check out the series at Projo.com, it’s one of the best they’ve ever done.

The following is rated H for Historical Perspective

Born in 1932, delivered by a doctor and 2 midwives in a farmhouse in Canada, the Dionne quintuplets charmed the world…

Approximately 6,000 people per day visited the observation gallery to view the Dionne sisters. Close to three million people walked through the gallery between 1936 and 1943[1]. In 1934, the quintuplets brought in about $1 million, and they attracted in total about $51 million of tourist revenue to Ontario. Quintland became Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction of the era, at the time surpassing Niagara Falls.

From infancy until the age of nine, Marie, Cecile, Yvonne, Amilie, and Annette lived in the hospital, and were not allowed out of sight, to have friends, to participate in family chores, to attend village schools, or to have contact with their parents and siblings. Cared for by nurses, whom the girls sometimes viewed as maternal figures, the five children lived essentially as one unit, with little understanding or knowledge of the world outside the nursery fence.

Okay. It was cute. Let’s move on.

The following is rated T for The Telegraph got beyond the cuteness angle…

Nadya Suleman, 33, has been obsessed since her teens with being a mother and had eight embryos implanted because she wanted “just one more girl” to add to her existing brood of six children aged two to seven, according to her mother…

There were frozen embryos left over after her previous pregnancies and her daughter did not want them destroyed so she decided to have more children. Her mother and doctors have said the woman was told she had the option to abort some of the embryos and, later, the fetuses, but she refused…

“She told me that all of her kids were through in vitro, and I said ‘Gosh, how can you afford that and go to school [college] at the same time?'” Yolanda Garcia told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “And she said it’s because she got paid for it.”

It was also reported that all 14 children are from the same donor, a neighbour, who unsuccessfully asked her to stop using his sperm after he got married recently.

An ethical debate is raging in America about why so many embryos were implanted in a woman aged under 35, particularly if the doctor or clinic involved knew that she already had six children. She only started to attend the Kaiser Permanente clinic, where the children were born, when she was three months pregnant and her mother said she does not know where the IVF procedure was performed.

Attention has also focussed on the cost for a single mother of raising 14 children. Her parents filed for bankruptcy with liabilities of nearly $1 million last year, but Mrs Suleman said she has now paid her debts.
Her Palestinian-born husband, the children’s grandfather, has said he intends to return to a contractor’s job in Iraq as a translator to help pay for their upbringing. Ms Suleman, who worked as a psychiatric assistant until starting her family, is on welfare payments.

A spokeswoman at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Centre said the babies were doing well and seven were breathing unassisted. In a statement issued through the hospital, Miss Suleman said she was “ecstatic”.

The following is rated L for Life is Unfair.

If life were fair, you would wake up tomorrow and see in the Journal that several hundred Rhode Islanders won the lottery and took off with their miraculously recovered children for a luxury cruise. But reality is that if you want to help these families, keep an eye on the Medicaide waiver. The responsibility of caring for a handicapped child falls primarily on the family, but they depend on the support of the community. There’s a wonderful phrase, ‘temporarily-abled’. The safety net you support with your taxes today might be the awning that catches you when you fall out the window tomorrow.

And this multiple-birth thing is not a medical miracle, it’s a failure. While I wouldn’t court slander charges by saying Nadya Suleman has no more sense than a gerbil, and her doctor ought to be arrested; I will say this. I question Ms. Suleman’s judgement, and her fertility doctor’s judgement and ethics. Just saying, that’s how I feel. I hope that eight premature babies in the nursery tonight do as well as the Dionne quints, and that there are enough loving and engaged adults in their lives to help them make it to a sane and happy adulthood.

There is great societal pressure for women to have children, and disdain for women who don’t. But there is such a thing as misuse of fertility. A loving childless aunt may have more regard and care for children than a mother who considers each one to be a notch on her maternal belt, and who flings them out the window for the rest of us to rescue.

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7 responses

  1. I am not disagreeing with anything, Nancy, of the above. My concern is that I have read (on the web) and heard (on the radio) some extreme racist statements about her and her family.

    Some of the statements were in favor of deporting them all…

    I sadly wonder, if, in fact, she had blue eyes and light skin and an english last name, whether she would receive some of the wrath she is receiving…

  2. probably not. but it would be better if she took up parachute jumping than to create a high-risk pregnancy. if all the babies do alright it is in spite of her bad judgement. i would like to see her fertility doctor outed and judged by a jury of his peers.

  3. I don’t see the racist motives like Nomi always manages to find.It’s more like people are turned off by this display of bad judgement.The doctor is most to blame because that practitioner should have realized they were dealing with a woman who had a mental health problem.
    If I went to my doctor and asked him to amputate my hand without there being anything wrong with it,he’d lose his license if he did.
    Nancy is correct-put the provider on the spot here.
    A single woman with six children has no right to fertility treatments,just like someone not in pain has no right to morphine.

  4. there are racist comments about this woman. her family are immigrants from the middle east. but the octuplet story has a weirdness that transcends cultures.
    i think this medical recklessness tends to happen in areas that are not insurance reimbursible, like when someone dies from liposuction. i would really like to see the doctor go before the medical board.

  5. Joe, we can disagree without being nasty, right? I think we met some years ago and had a pleasant conversation in a coffeeshop.

    I began my comment with my agreement with Nancy. My statement is not an endorsement of this woman or the doctor.

    My sympathy is particularly with the grandparents.

  6. Jesse from Cranston

    From the way the article reads, it sounds like at least part of Miss Suleman’s IVF process wasn’t completely legit — she showed up at the clinic already 3 months pregnant (?!)

    In time, I hope the truth about just how she was impregnated (with sperm that the original donor didn’t want her to use, no less) is brought to light.

    IVF should be — and, in most cases, is — used only to assist infertile couples who have already tried other, less medically-intensive procedures. There’s something deeply disturbing about someone pursuing IVF simply to have more children — and medical personnel helping her do it.

  7. Nomi-I apologize if you thought I was being nasty.It is just that racism gets mentioned so much it begins to pall on people and diverts the conversation.
    Nancy mentioned that some nitwits brought the woman’s ethnic background into the argument.i was unaware of that.To me it was a discussion about irresponsible(the mother)and unethical(the provider) behavior.
    In any event,I’m glad you thought the conversation we had was nice.It is hard to recall who someone is with a screen name.I am sure I would remember you if I saw you.I never forget a face.

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