Jon & Kate Plus Eight

I can't stomach it, truly. No, it isn't their fault but rather it's the way in which the media hunts down the success stories which only perpetuate the unrealistic outcomes that follow (and the lifelong pains that follow, financial and ethical). Kate says quite defiantly that when the doctor raised "reduction," she said there would be no talk of that. And she went on to carry and deliver 6 healthy babies and I'm delighted for that outcome - for the sake of their children.

Diane Sawyer (whom I adore) spends time covering the Dilley sextuplets every year and beams with delight over a woman who carried what most Golden Retriever's birth - a litter. But Diane spends not one single minute talking about the hundreds/thousands of women who miscarry high order multiples (greater than twins) at 5 months. Diane looks past the stories of women who refuse selective reduction and birth 4 children with devastating physical and mental deficiencies. Diane would rather spend time in a house like Jon & Kate's - where cute, zippy little munchkins run as fast as their tiny legs can take them. I don't blame her, I'd rather be there too over the alternative.

But when presenting a view of multifetal pregnancy outcomes, why not cover in detail the daily lives of families who've had challenges. Why not profile the couple who spent their life savings on IVF and lost their quads at 5 months. Or why not profile the couple who's nearly bankrupt, who are overwhelmed and have mere minutes to shower and spend time with their healthy children while they juggle the Hoyer lifts, wheel chairs and ventilators in their living-room-turned-hospital-suite?

If parents are to make informed decisions - whatever they are - they must do so with facts that are, currently, conveniently much too hidden.

I hope I am never in the position to opt for reduction because I know I would chose it and I know I would pay the price. I don't think "reduction" - a euphemism for an abortion - is the easy way out, by any means. But I think, for me, it would be the lesser of two evils. You see, I know a thing or two about disability. My mother was seriously handicapped from the age of 2. The last ten years of her life were very difficult and, as an only child, I bore an enormous brunt of having to care for her. I can't imagine having to care for a child with severe disabilities with another two running around. Nor do I think I could forgive myself for the emotional havoc that kind of life would do to my life and the life of any other children I might have.

It's blissfully simple to choose no reduction when you haven't ever provided daily, lifelong care for a severely handicapped individual that you love. It's blissfully simple to say no to reduction when you haven't lost an entire multi-order pregnancy at 5 months.

I think once either of those things happen, you develop a less black and white perspective on reduction.


Lorraine said...

Even though I have never had to care for a disabled loved one - although I'm sure I will eventually, just on the premise that we will all probably have aged parents/spouses/siblings with age-related dependence at some point - I would probably choose reduction, too. I know it's hard to be sure before you are actually the one making the choice in real life, but I try not to be overly emotional when making big decisions. Reduction is the practical decision, and I would hope that I could see that even if it weren't a purely objective choice.

The fact that I will likely never be in that position probably makes it easier to feel so sure - I'll just be lucky if I manage to get one healthy embryo to stick it out!

Sky said...

Lorraine, thanks for commenting.

It's such a personal decision and I really hope and pray that I am never faced with it. But I do know that I behave responsibly over emotionally most times. In fact, my worst regrets and biggest mistakes have been made as a result of emotional decisions.

Our brains are a beautiful thing - they can guide us pretty well, if we think hard and control our feelings (so much easier said than done).

I certainly wouldn't make the decision lightly and I'd cry so hard, I'd fear that would risk the whole pregnancy. But, ultimately, I want to give my child(ren) the best chance at a good, independent life where they can reach all of their potential.

Because I know who I am. If, God forbid, I had a child who developed a serious disability after birth, I would spend every waking minute of the rest of my life caring for that child to the exclusion of any life for myself or any other child I may have.

So, as far as I'm concerned, better to avoid (as much as I can) the increased risk for that to actually happen to me.

Lorraine, I just know that at the end of this road for you, you will be a mom - I can feel it! :)