Thursday, January 29, 2009

Eight had better be enough

What on earth would prompt a 33-year-old woman who has six children under the age of eight to undergo fertility treatments?

See this article in the LA Times. She just gave birth to octuplets.

Wait - first let's clear something up. Do I sound judgemental? Well I am. I am judging her. I am judging her based on very little information, absolutely no knowledge of her as a person and no experience with having children myself. I am doing what we all do - forming an opinion based on my own experiences, my personal values and my own world view. So here I go.

I believe whole-heartedly that she absolutely has the right to make her own decisions about such things in her life. But FOR GOODNESS' SAKE, WHY?!?!? Was six really not enough? Was adoption or foster parenting ever a consideration?

I am certain that religion plays a part in this. Some religions promote the idea of big families as not just a blessing, but as some sort of obligation, and in a few cases as a prerequisite for salvation. Hey, I am one of five children and my Mom is one of fourteen. I am sure the Catholic Church's stance on birth control had a hand in that.

I just hope it wasn't a case of her feeling like she wasn't performing her duty as a woman when she couldn't naturally have a seventh child. Or that she wasn't meeting the expectations of her God, her church or her family. It would be a shame for her to think of her life as lacking, when really it was already so full.

Even though I firmly believe that we all get to make our own decisions in life, a part of me is angry at this mother of now fourteen kids. There are so many children in this country who need to be adopted. A large, loving family would be the perfect place for one of these children to be nurtured and raised. The alternative is a life of multiple foster homes, group homes and growing up with the feeling of never really having a home.

Can you imagine that in your own life? Picture yourself at age 2 or 3 or 4. Now wipe out your entire family. They don't exist. You are alone in this world. There are 130,000 children in the United States experiencing that right now. They are waiting to be adopted and many never are. (www.adoptamericanetwork.org)

I am also angry at the pervasive idea that if you can't have children of your own, that you are somehow broken or deficient and your life will have less meaning. I write this as a woman who has just turned forty and has no kids. I don't know if I will ever have children. And even I wonder if it means that there will be an emptiness in my life - an unfulfilled longing or and aching void at the center of my soul that will make me feel that my journey on this earth was ultimately without purpose.

A part of me does buy into the notion that I will be less than...lacking...inadequate. I don't want to feel this way. I want to believe that I can be fulfilled and find true peace and satisfaction without ever giving birth. That everything else I offer in this life - my love, compassion, friendship and even my struggles and pain - will add up to something truly meaningful. That it will all somehow be enough.

I don't have the answer right now. But soon enough, one way or another, I will find out.

As for this new mother of octuplets, while I don't understand her decisions, I do wish her and her family nothing but joy in their days ahead. There are eight new souls in this world and now they all have the chance to find meaning and happiness in their own lives. I wish them luck.

3 comments:

Patti said...

in her defense she thought there were only seven - the eighth was a suprise! what kind of ultrsound tech did she have?

maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maureen said...

OK I needed to collect myself! We do not have all the facts but their are somethings we can conclude from the info we have. This women was able to maintain 5 pregnacy is 7 years. Quit a feat seeing 1 out of every 4 pregnacies end in miscarrage. We do not know how the previous pregnacies where conceived but for arguments sake lets say the were IVF(In vitro) and this couple decides the would like to have another child and return to their fertility specialist for help. Why would any doctor implant EIGHT embryo's!!!!!!!!!!! Why 8. How many did he/she implant with the other pregnancies. This is all about the firtility clinics success rate. That is why they implanted eight. They want there success rate to be high so they can attract more buisness. It is being said on the news these babies are doing well. Well by what standard? Our technology has come very far but prematurity in infants is very serious and cause a lifetime of medial problems for these children. I should not complain because these medical advance assures me I will always have a job but stories like these make me question where will it stop? When will medicine say we can't do anymore?