• -hf

    Not that I expect folks to read all the way to the bottom here and see my little comment, but I recently read a great article in Newsweek that offers another angle from which to view this story. Just wanted to share.


  • Kate

    I live in Los Angeles and have been keeping a close eye on this story. I think the backlash has less to do with fertility treatments in general and much more to do with the level of irresponsibility on the part of the mom and the doctor. That said, I’m surprised and disappointed that I had to read through a hundred and thirty four comments before someone (thank you Lisa! #135) brought up what should be the most obvious issue: the increasing burden that people put on the planet (not to mention our personal and collective economies) by their heedless and selfish breeding.
    Having children should be thought of as a privilege, not a RIGHT or entitlement.
    It’s not just a matter of whether you can support more than two kids, it’s whether the planet can support their futures.

  • http://www.myelectronictimecapsule.blogspot.com Jo

    Isn’t health care in the US incredibly expensive?? How did she afford the IVF in the first place? Here in Aust IVF is thousands of $$$$ per cycle

  • http://www.vintagesquirrel.com Vintagesquirrel

    I’ve been watching a lot of the coverage about the ‘Octo-Mom’, as she is called. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about fertility treatments in general. All the questioning has been regarding this particular (and unfortunate) case. I’ve not heard people crying out for limits to reproductive rights because of this woman. People are genuinely concerned because a woman (and her doctor) used that freedom to wild abandon. It would seem that neither was overly concerned with the welfare of the children involved. Instead, they were, it appears, more concerned with fulfilling their own (selfish?) goals.

  • Francesca

    I agree that this is a very tricky situation. Do I think her doctor should have allowed her to undergo more treatments? No. Do I think she is unfit mother? Who am I to say? I don’t know her, I don’t know the quality of life she has been providing her children. It’s really not my place to tell others whether or not they are fit to be a parent.

    I am 20 years old, I am a student, and I am not a mother. However, more than anything else, I hope that someday I will be able to have children, and I deeply hope that I will be able to give birth to those children. If for some reason I am unable to, I would gladly adopt children of different ages and provide them with the same love and care and kindness as I would any children that were biologically my own. I am entirely pro-adoption, but if I was unable to give birth to children without medicine, I would seek out medical assistance for fertility. Perhaps this is selfish of me, but I think if I want to have children, I have the right to do so in the manner of my choosing.

    I know many people who would make absolutely amazing parents but who are infertile, and it is devastating. I sincerely hope that this very isolated incident will not make it more difficult for people like them to get the medical assistance they are entitled to so that they might get the chance to have children.

    I agree with you entirely Heather. I also think that that doctor should take some parenting classes and go babysit for Nadya.

  • Eri

    Pro-choice here, I believe in the rights of woman to be able to choose. I am grateful we were blessed to have one before having a hysterectomy due to tumors and my option to have more of our own children grew absent. I have to shake my head at others and express my gratefulness we were blessed to have one child.

  • Lisa

    Someone said:

    “AND she didn’t CHOOSE to have 8 babies at once…8 babies HAPPENED and she CHOSE not to abort them.”

    How can you possibly think that? She DID choose to have 8 babies at once! SHE made the decision to transfer 8 embryos and SHE understood (if she was sane, that is) that transferring 8 embies could very well result in having 8 babies. Yes, odds are low that they would all implant successfully, but even if there’s just a slight chance, why would any sane person make that decision? Good grief, many couples stress about transferring 2 embies! But 8?!? That’s just freakin nuts, especially considering she already has 6 kids, no job, no house, no significant other to help…

    She wasn’t some innocent woman who was held down and forced to undergo treatment which takes months and LOTS of $$, then forced to implant 8 embies then forced to carry them. No, she CHOSE to have EIGHT babies. They didn’t just “happen” – they were scientifically manipulated into this world and paid for with a great deal of money. Now they will be forced to endure what could very well be physically and emotionally painful lives b/c their mother is a self centered nutjob and her RE was a self centered, greedy quack.

  • http://jooley-ann.livejournal.com/ Julie

    I conceived my one, precious, beautiful daughter via IUI. My husband and I were relieved to have only one (not twins). (There’s nothing wrong with twins; we simply felt, at the ages of 37 & 49, that double the babies would…KILL US. :)

    The backlash against fertility treatments, which I have heard in our local media, makes me very sad. I am endlessly grateful to have had access to the outstanding care I received from a highly reputable fertility clinic in Austin. Those docs are working miracles for so many people. What a shame that Octomom’s doctors smear the occupation, providing fodder for narrow-minded people who look for any evidence that fertility procedures “tinker” with some kind of destiny.

    Suggesting that adoption is a ready answer and 1-for-1 substitution for having a child is insulting to everyone: the parents who can’t conceive, the parents of children placed for adoption, and the children themselves. Adoption works in some cases, for some people, and that is a great thing. However, there are some people who aren’t eligible to adopt due to a host of reasons, and others who simply are not comfortable with the process. People should research the ups and downs of adoption (ALL kinds of adoption because there are many) before saying a word about it.

    Thanks for opening up a forum to discuss this, Heather. Brave woman that you are. :)

  • http://aureliababy.com/ AureliaBaby

    Nadya lives in California and this is shocking for Western people. If you lived in Middle East, this would be normal. By tradition they give birth to minimum 10 children, because some of them die young because of inproper medicine and banal viruses, but others are great help in garden or any other family business. We can’t teach whole world with much older traditions, how to live. SO, here we are, these are our stereotypes driving us. But, yes, I agree, that women is responsible for every child she gives birth. But I reject any forced adoption. If she loves her children and tries to give them best, if government gives some social help-she is free to live with all her children! Remember, you and your husband need 2 children to keep demography on zero. This is why modern world is reducing and East is on expansion. Give birth!!!

  • Anonymous

    Eleven years ago, I went through fertility treatments to have my daughter. My husband and I carefully chose our reproductive endocrinologist including reviewing the statistics for each clinic. Those stats included success rates and number of children per pregnancy.

    Since my daughter was born, I have become friends with a number of other women who have had fertility treatments. Most of us only have singletons. A couple women have twins. And one ended up with triplets. Some have gone through fertility treatments which have resulted in additional pregnancies. According to my doctors and what my friends have told me that their doctors said, an outcome that includes anything more than twins is considered by reputable reproductive endocrinologists to be a medical mistake. It puts the life (and the health) of the mother at risk. It puts the life (and the health) of the babies at risk. It makes childhood more likely to be difficult for everyone involved.

    Infertility doctors have to consider a number of variables (eg the mother’s age, the mother’s past medical history, previous pregnancies, and results of prior fertility treatment cycles) when making the decision about how many eggs should be the goal for each cycle. That means that a law that sets some arbitrary limit on the number of eggs doesn’t seem to me to be a good solution.

    Even with the least invasive procedures there are several points during each month that the doctors can call off the procedures if it becomes likely that the cycle will result in high order multiples. My husband and I had to sign paperwork saying that we understand this before they would treat me. We had very good insurance but it did not cover fertility treatments so we paid it all ourselves. Even though we invested thousands of dollars in any given month, the doctors had the right to call it off if it looked like the outcome would not meet reasonable standards of reproductive medicine. I’m pretty confident that no amount of pressure from us would have caused the doctors in this practice to try to produce more eggs or to proceed under questionable circumstances.

    Based on what I learned while going through fertility treatments, I think it is pretty clear that Nadya’s doctor (and also Jon and Kate Plus 8’s doctor) were not practicing reproductive medicine in ways that are considered acceptable by reputable reproductive endocrinologists. However, that boat has sailed. I think our only choice in this country full of freedoms is for us to provide a reasonable amount of support for Nadya and her children. And then make sure similar situations can’t happen going forward.

    I think the answer is in holding doctors accountable for following good medical practices. I think any reproductive endocrinologist whose practice generates high order multiples should be investigated. If they are not following reasonable medical procedures, I think that their license should be revoked. And I think the parents and babies should have the right to hold the doctor financially accountable through legal action. That’s not limiting a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. That would be limiting a doctor’s right to practice bad medicine. And that would limit the burden on society of dealing with this sort of medical mistake.

  • Lauren

    I find it very interesting that Heather hasn’t once mentioned the fame-seeking actions of Nadya Suleman. Of COURSE there’s a media circus, Heather! The blame goes both ways. I will admit I emailed a few networks to beg them to not seek an interview with Nadya, in hopes that at least one party would put a cap on some of the insanity.

    My take on the situation does not involve any “sweeping statements and judgments on women’s reproductive rights.” I’m looking at this situation as an isolated incident, with Nadya as a mentally ill individual that bears just as much responsibility as her unethical fertility.

    In regards to the commenter(s) that argue that taking away Nadya’s children is not a solution, I have to wonder what they’re envisioning in order to ensure that these children grow up with adequate care in a safe environment. It’s all about the children here, folks. There are FOURTEEN kids and some with special needs. At this stage, Nadya’s wants and desires, as it concerns her children, should not be a primary decisionmaking factor.

  • http://cameraphonemishaps.blogspot.com/ Aimee

    I have experienced infertility that resulted in IVF and that gives me some authority in this subject, at least I think so. This situation is the result of a disturbed woman and renagade doctor. I do beleive there needs to be some regulation regarding IVF, like there is in Europe. Max two embryos for a woman under 35.

  • Rachel

    Hey TOTALLY off the subject, but WHERE DID YOU GET THAT SHIRT. I love the white shirt you are wearing in the video, please PLEASE email me where you get it from and I will LOVE YOU FOREVER

  • Erin

    Just wanted to say: yes. To all of that. Not going to read the comments, because I don’t want to get agitated over this issue again, but–right on, Heather. I completely agree with you.

  • Tori

    I don’t think I would call her crazy. I think there is something missing in her life. I’ve watched the interviews with her and it seems like she has been looking for someone to love. She loves her children and that’s clear from what I’ve seen.

    The reason behind her latest implantation of 6 embryos was a strange one. They were embryos from another IVF session. Instead of tossing them or donating them she decided to have them all implanted. Her belief is that an embryo is a human life and destroying it would be equal to having an abortion. In studies of IVF patients frozen embryos are shown to implant easier. In the past she had used fresh embryos that all resulted in 1 or 2 births each.

    Clearly, this is the fault of the doctor. He should have counseled her to donate them to someone else who didn’t have viable eggs to use. He should have been aware of the risks of using 6 frozen embryos so that she could have one more.

    While she has stated multiple times that she used money she earned working double shifts at the mental hospital she also got $168,000 in disability which probably went directly towards packing her uterus with 8 babies. She no longer receives disability but she does receive money from the government for her 3 children that have special needs. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1600 dollars a month for each child. She uses that 4800 a month to support her family.

    I’m worried about the autistic child; she doesn’t seem to understand what his needs really are or how his illness works. Without proper treatment it will get worse. With this addition of 8 more to the house there will be more problems. We don’t know what their developmental issues will be, how she will handle taking care of them, and the effect it will have on the 6 she already has. Autistic children crave routine and having 8 more children enter his world could send him into a downward spiral he may never recover from.

    I’m glad that she’s being put under a magnifying glass. It will make her more accountable for what she does with this brood. Hopefully because of this it will keep other women from trying to do the same thing and keep other doctors from making the same choices hers did.

  • Amy

    FYI – most people who have multiples like the octuplet woman do not even achieve that result through IVF. It is very unusual for a fertility doctor to transfer this many eggs in an IVF cycle.

    People who have multiples like this usually achieve this result through artificial insemination with drugs that increase follicle stimulation, resulting in multiple eggs being release and fertilized in a cycle.

    That said, the most reputable clinics would, upon noting that many eggs will be released in an IUI cycle, would recommend postponing the IUI until the next cycle and reduce the level of the drugs given to not stimulate such a high level of egg production.

  • rutsa

    To #15…Actually in the case of Jon & Kate, they used IUI which is basically artificial insemination. They stimulated her to product extra eggs, injected his sperm into her uterus and let fertilization happen on its own.
    The problem is she had SO many eggs that her doc really should have cancelled the IUI for hyperstimulation. Kind of irresponsible on the doctor’s part but I know a woman who had 11 mature eggs at an IUI (which really should have been cancelled too) and none fertilized so you never know.

    What this Nayda woman did was implanting embryos. She knew how many she was likely to end up with because when they are embryos there’s a much higher chance of them surviving vs. if you let fertilization take place in the uterus with eggs and sperm separated (as w/ Jon & Kate).

    I think it was very irresponsible on both her and her doc’s part. But at the same time if we open up legislation to say you can only implant X number of embryos, that opens the door to all sorts of legislation that I’m not comfortable with at all.
    Ultimately the embryos were her property. She should have frozen some rather than risk the health of all of them by forcing the to share a maxed out womb. But should it be the woman’s choice -to do what she wants with her genetic property? I think so. Think being the operative word. It’s all very murky.

  • Patty

    I first thought oh my god. Then I thought Oh. My. God. What the he** was that Dr. thinking when he/she forgot to ask if selective termination would be an option if too many embryos implanted.
    I am #7 child of 11 from the same mom and dad – we were the hired hands on the farm. My parents said “The big ones helped with the little ones” (Dugger and Jon and Kate families) and “They just came one at a time”. (Dugger family again – mostly.) There is an 18 year age spread in my family.
    The Duggers and the Jon and Kate families each have two parents, seemingly a good income, and who could blame them for accepting another ‘part time stay at home job’ in order to raise money for 8 kids or 18 kids college education (hopefully).
    I watch both shows and the first thing I thought of after the initial shock was that “MM” (Multiple Mom) wanted on the TV show bandwagon. Wouldn’t that make a great show. NOT! I certainly hope no one buys into that idea. I wouldn’t watch it and also hope that the powers that be do not think that it would make for good programming.
    I was the only one of the 11 kids in my family to have infertility problems. We went through 5 IUI cycles, and were considering IVF after just one more IUI, when I finally got pregnant on an off cycle just after a Flagyl treatment for giardia. Hurtful folks said – “See, you just needed to relax,” But it was simply that I had had so much medication over those cycles, that it had a residual effect.
    We now have one teenage daughter who was very wanted, very loved. We tried again 2 1/2 years later with even more medications, and had secondary infertility, and I said STOP in the middle of the first cycle of shots when the follicles containing the eggs were not growing at a normal rate of speed. We were heartbroken, and for years she talked about the sister she wanted.
    This much loved, beautiful, genius child is a mess, depressed, hates everything and everyone, wants to move to England and marry the guy she met on the internet and have his babies and be a housewife. She dropped out of high school after her sophomore year, failed at trying community college, and won’t go out to try to get a job. She is getting college information (because of extremely high PSAT scores as a sophomore) from Sanford, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, MIT, and all the smaller colleges you could think of.
    My point is this – one child does not a mentally healthy individual make (my child or “MM” are not!) and a huge family does not insure a happy mentally healthy group of children. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
    “MM’s Doctor was a fool and “MM” herself was extremely misguided, and I hope those poor children live through it.
    I have a 1 1/2 year old great niece born at 21 weeks and weighed 1 lb. 4 oz. She is partially deaf, has serious eye problems for which she has already had several surgeries, and will be visually impaired. She very likely is somewhat retarded and has cost so very very much in agony and hurt and money before they even thought she might live and come home. And she is the most beautiful tiny little princess child I’ve ever seen.
    I can hardly bear to think of those eight “little bird beak/mouths” opening for food (all at the same time) and no one there to put a bottle or a spoon with food into that mouth!
    My heart aches, and I’m furious, and I won’t watch anything about her. I just have to stand around and listen and I learn way too much.
    I had to quit reading after the first page of comments, but I agree with anon #243 – Dr. ‘Firstdonoharm’ should “have his testicles ripped off and stuffed up his nose”. Made me laugh.
    Anon #297 then says — “…what I do wonder is why people go to such expense and inconvenience in order to NOT adopt? There are so so so many children who need homes. Do people think they may not be able to love their adopted baby as much as the one that grew in their womb?”
    Has this person experienced infertility? Most of my support group debated often about wanting to pass on genes, or simply raise a child. There are valid reasons for both, but we all had to go through our treatments before we could give up and grieve the dream of our own birth child.
    I hope the pain and agony of infertility never comes to any of you all. You don’t deserve to be told you can’t try Infertility treatment!
    I’ve ranted long enough. The End.

  • Scout

    Heather, I’m surprised to hear you say “the father” isn’t involved. The children don’t have a “father” in that sense–although they are from the same sperm donor, this by no means makes that donor a father. Fatherhood has to be mean much more than giving a microscopic cell with a even more minute protein strand which then combined in an egg (which contributes much more to a zygote) and then nurtured in a womb (in a woman’s body) becomes a human infant–especially if you are going to make a case for women’s absolute reproductive freedom. Essentialist fatherhood–which entitles someone who would otherwise be a mere sperm donor via intercourse rather than ARTs to parental rights (think of polygamous marriage and “priesthood” as the LDS analogue to “motherhood”)–devalues the work of men who take fatherhood as a role seriously, along with the labors of women who are also mothers. Also, by making a man who gives sperm a necessary “father,” aren’t you implying that women don’t or shouldn’t have the freedom to reproduce outside of a hetero paired unit? (ie., lesbian couples would need to make sure the “father” has access to the kid.) If we are to not flip out about assistive repro technologies by holding them up to a socially constructed “natural” measuring stick, shouldn’t we also denaturalize the nuclear hetero family unit as the only family unit?

    Anyway, I haven’t checked in on your blog for a while but it seems like things are good. Congrats.

  • LP

    Agreed, 202. Thanks for your comment.

  • Anonymous

    I am kind of glad this sensational edge-case with obvious psychological issues, because at least her over-the-top situation has people stirred up enough to talk about reproduction and over-population. I think you really need to see what it is like to live in over-populated countries with babies beating on your windows for food and understand how women sell their bodies as sim-moms, before you can make an informed judgment on the “right to have a child.”

    Reproduction isn’t a right. It is a privilege.

  • http://anamericangirlinparis.wordpress.com/ Sarah

    I’m going to have to disagree with you on the importance of government regulation. While I definitely agree that NO reproductive rights should ever be restricted, I do think that a system that would allow this to happen needs to be regulated. I recently read an article that commented that the situation is largely due to the fact that fertility treatments in the US are not covered by the vast majority of health care insurance. In contrast in Europe, most fertility treatments ARE covered by health insurance. Since the health care companies (be they private or public insurance)are the ones who will also be footing the bill for the costs of multiple premature births, they have strict regulations on the number of embryos that can be implanted in an IVF cycle (I believe it was restricted to 1 or 2). Since fertility treatments are covered and thus women can go through multiple cycles, women are under less pressure to put all their eggs in one basket (to use a bad pun). As to the doctor, I have heard several accounts (from top fertility specialists) that he was acting extremely irresponsibly in implanting 6 embryos, given that standard medical guidelines limit the number of embryos implanted to 3 at most.

    The question at hand isn’t whether Ms. Suleman is capable both emotionally and financially of raising these children. I personally don’t believe that she is, but I also don’t believe the state should take away her children just because she’s poor or had a large family or chose to be a single mother or even because she may have some mild, ultimately manageable, mental illness. Those are some very dangerous precedents to set. Instead of attacking her and calling her crazy, we should be asking what kind of support systems are in place and how we can give her the tools to parent these children the best she can. IF there is eventually evidence of neglect or abuse, THEN they should be taken away, but not until then and certainly not for the reasons people are currently wanting to take them away for.

  • Klemptor

    I feel for couples with fertility issues, I honestly do. However, my _personal_ opinion is that IVF is inherently unethical. There are plenty of children who need homes, and to me it’s not only unethical to create a child in lieu of giving a needy child a home, but it’s also a gross misuse of resources just to get a child that is genetically your “own.” I think adoption is far more humane and loving, and much less selfish.

    That said, I know my opinion is my own, and I would not want it forced on anyone else. Everyone has a different ethical code, and everyone should be free to make their own choice.

  • http://theboldsoul.com The Bold Soul

    (A) I’ll weigh in with the others like Heather who feel that we don’t really have the right to judge anyone else’s reproductive choices, not to the extent that we start deciding whether or not she is capable of caring for that many kids. Yes the doctor should hold much of the responsibility in this incident and if I could, I’d yank his license and then give him the biggest wedgie he’s ever had. I do personally think this woman is kidding herself if she thinks she’s going to be able to handle 14 kids on her own because it’s never going to happen, but let’s give her the chance to make a go of it before we start calling DYFS to take her kids away, ok?

    (B) I am currently 47, recently married for the first time to a wonderful man, and now choosing a path in life I thought I had decided to skip entirely: we’re trying to get me pregnant (although I prefer the term “knocked up” – it sounds so much more genteel). But given my age I have to accept it may not work out for us, and we’ve already decided NOT to take any extraordinary means such as IVF. Having said that, I sure wouldn’t want someone else telling me I couldn’t do IVF if I had the inclination and could afford to do so. I think medical science can really help women (couples) who can’t get pregnant any other way so let’s not dump on science for making it possible. Think of all the happy, much loved babies who have been born as a result of technology like IVF; how can that be wrong?

    (C) I will never again be able to drink a strawberry smoothie, Heather. Thanks an effing lot, dude.

  • p.s.

    OK, I think it’s good to hold back from being judgmental in particular ways, but could you help me out by making fun of these people:

    I think you are the perfect antidote. Please, please help me.

  • Anonymous

    Woah. Jon is on Chicago public radio right now.
    surprise to me

  • Louise

    This story certainly made world wide news! My (Australian) perspective.

    This women was in a previous relationship used IVF- resulting in 6 children – not that big a deal.

    The relationship failed and the clinic was left holding her left over embryos (only 4 as she had x2 sets of twins this time round?).

    As a non – religious person I would have thought of other uses- donated them to other women or for use in embryonic research.

    She is clearly V Religious- sanctity of human life etc. Also her body clock is no doubt ticking along- how many x10 months of gestation could she manage before implantation would be unsucessful?

    Her alternative was to have one more shot at giving her embryos a shot at life – I imagine she knew the risks. Her (misguided) religious faith took her down this road it seems.

    I find it strange that so many people especially all the ‘Right to Lifers’ would condem her actions. What would you have the done with the embryo’s- Given them to Sarah Pallin?

  • Betsy

    It’s too late to read through all of the above comments, so forgive me if I’m being repetitive.

    I am currently 39 weeks pregnant with our first child, conceived through IVF. It took us 4 years to get pregnant (I have PCOS), and we went through many treatments (Clomid, IUI, injectables, and finally IVF) before we finally conceived. We consider ourselves EXTREMELY lucky to have had the financial means to pursue treatment (very little of which was covered by our insurance) and to have found success.

    We have indeed gotten comments from others about how we should have adopted instead of “wasting” all of our time and money on infertility treatments. For me, it was about wanting to experience pregnancy, and having a biological connection to my child. I see my nephew walking alongside my brother and marvel at how they have the same walk and the same mannerisms, and I want to be able to see that in my husband and our son. If we couldn’t have afforded IVF, or if it hadn’t worked, we may well have adopted, but we wanted to try everything we could to have a biological child first. For those who judge that choice, I ask why didn’t you adopt, even if you were able to conceive naturally? Most people aren’t willing to make that choice, so why should I have to? I do have a lot of respect for those who choose adoption, because it certainly isn’t an “easy” solution to infertility.

    As for Nadya Suleman, I do place most of the blame on the doctor that performed her IVF procedures. I am of “advanced maternal age” (I’m 37), and our doctor would only implant 2 embryos–it is unconscionable that her doctor would transfer 6 embryos, regardless of how many children she had at home. I am thankful that those kids are doing as well as they are (even as a CA taxpayer–the horror!) but feel strongly that she should have received counseling before she was treated, to avoid this situation in the first place.

    While Ms. Suleman is an extreme case, I do see why some women push their doctors to implant several embryos–it’s all about the money. VERY few insurance plans cover IVF, and every cycle is 10K+ out of pocket, so couples want to get the most bang for their buck. If more insurance plans covered a certain number of IVF cycles per patient (say, 3-6), doctors and patients might be less willing to risk implanting multiple embryos, and the incidences of multiple births might decrease. Fewer multiple births would mean healthier babies–shouldn’t THAT be the ultimate goal?

    Additionally, if IVF was covered by insurance, it might decrease the number of multiple births caused by procedures such as treatment with injectables combined with IUI. We did a couple of these procedures on the road to IVF, mainly because they cost about one-fifth the amount of one IVF cycle. However, the risk of multiple births with this procedure is even higher than with IVF, since there is less control over how many eggs get fertilized with every cycle. My doctor was very conservative, and was quick to cancel cycles when she saw I was producing too many follicles–this was REALLY frustrating to me at the time, because I just wanted it to work RIGHT NOW. Imagine if I had convinced my doctor to proceed–I might be in Nadya Suleman’s shoes right now.

    When we did finally move on to IVF, we enrolled in a “shared-risk” program, where we paid one large sum (about the price of 2 IVF procedures), but were allowed to try 3 fresh and 3 frozen IVF cycles. If we didn’t “take home a baby” (their wording, not mine), we would get 70% of our money back. In the end, it didn’t make the most sense financially (we got pregnant with our first cycle, oops), but I know that it allowed us to be more conservative in how many embryos were transferred, and also allowed me to relax more as we went through it, knowing that if it didn’t work, we could try again. This is the type of plan that I envision insurance companies providing–not necessarily giving couples endless options, but the chance to try IVF without bankrupting them and putting them under pressure to implant multiple embryos. Maybe the upside of the Suleman case is that some sort of change like this could be implemented as a result in the future.

  • http://www.coupledumb.com Lee

    My husband and I went through infertility years ago and the truth is that what we went through and what Nadya Suleman did can not be compared. She had no issues having kids except for lack of man. Most infertile couples are looking at options like IVF as their last chance not “it’s either this or a turkey baster”. I agree the doctor needs to take responsibility for this but the ultimate onus lies on Mom herself. She was presented with options, like all IVF parents with mulitples, to selectively abort some but she chose not to. The chances these kids will have handicaps is astronomical (premature multiples). I say apples and oranges and anyone that lumps in infertility with this whack job is an ass. Sorry, I tried playing nice.

  • Kristina

    I brought my daughter home 23 days ago after a 30 day stay in the NICU. She was born at 32 weeks, 2 days weighing 3 lbs. 13 oz. The 30 days she was in the NICU were the hardest of any I’ve experienced and when I think of this story, all I can think of are those children in their isolettes with no one by their side. I wish them all the best and yet can’t stop feeling that their mother has already abandoned them. It’s too sad to even think about so instead I’ll go back in and watch my little miracle sleep.

  • http://www.itstheecotone.com Jayseaka

    This happened not far from where I live in California and I think part of the reason Californians are so upset is because on top of national economy trouble, California has been having lots of problems with the budget and teachers are getting laid off and everyone’s freaking out.

    I’m not exactly sure how adoption goes but I THINK you have to go through a process and they pretty much won’t just let anyone adopt. Isn’t it true you have to go to interviews and prove you are fit to parent and are going to be able to provide for that child? In any case, I think maybe the same procedures could be put in place for fertility treatment. I have an opinion but I’m not boiling mad over the incident….it’s not like this happens all the time and it’s a huge issue in our society. It will all be forgotten when the next big thing happens and people get their panties in a bunch over that instead. ;)

  • Juniper

    Dooce, I find it interesting that you think that this story will cause other people seeking reproductive treatments to be frowned upon. I have never connected this woman’s story to the (several) women I know who have required medical help to conceive. There are just too many bizarre factors about this case for me to make that comparison. Hopefully, most people can make this distinction. Also, where is the Dr’s story in all of this? I know of no Dr. who would put that many eggs in somebody (even half that many, if they did in fact all split). How come he isn’t being questioned at the forefront of all this?

  • Anonymous

    Regarding adoption (and this is really nothing to do with this Suleman woman at all but in terms of infertility) people like to make sweeping generalizations like, why spend all that money tinkering with mother nature when you could adopt and help a needy child.

    That line of thinking can be turned around to “fertile” couples: you already have one (2, 3, etc) biological children. Shouldn’t you really give a home to a needy child next time?

    I resent the implications that it’s the “infertile” couple’s duty to adopt and let go of the dream of having a child that is a genetic mix of you and the person you love.

    Adoption should be for those who want to adopt, fertile or infertile.

  • http://www.imaveg.blogspot.com/ plue

    When I was in junior high school, my parents and grandfather took me on an unforgettable vacation to China. We went sightseeing and all that, but the saddest thing about that trip was visiting a few distant relatives who were sent there during the war and decided to stay. They had very little grandchildren because of the one child rule.

    My grandparents on both sides have about a dozen grandchildren and I felt so lucky to have sisters and lots of cousins. And to be free to have as many children as I wanted.

    I kept asking questions like, “What if you had twins?” or “What if you broke the law and had another baby?”

    They told me that twins were okay if you were lucky enough to have then, but to give birth to a second child would mean having your home taken away from you, no schooling for your children, and quite possibly, no future employment for the family.

    I know that overpopulation is a concern, but the right to reproductive freedom is a human right, even for the infertile.

    With that said, I do believe that a woman should be able to have as many children as she wants, but this Suleman woman seems to be more of a baby-hoarder than a mother. The desire doesn’t seem to be in RAISING her children, more like birthing babies. Even her own mother has said that–and she needs help.

  • http://modadimagno.blogspot.com Lori Magno

    This is such a difficult topic and possibly the saddest story out there. I am ‘childless by choice’ but NOT anti-child. (God bless those that want to devote their lives to their kids, not my bag. I do willingly pay huge property tax in a town with a tremendous school system because I want the next generation to be smarter than the current one. Just please notice when your little dumplings are having a NUCLEAR F*ING THRASHING SATAN-LIKE MELTDOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF STARBUCKS BEFORE I’VE HAD COFFEE and address the situation, quietly.) I digress.

    I believe the concern should be for the health, education and welfare of those kids. Heather, you said in your post “I do not think it is physically possible for one person to take care of the basic needs of 14 children.” I can’t imagine that task outside of the film “Yours, Mine & Ours” (the original Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda version.) I’m not sure how my own mother survived the four of us after my father’s departure.

    14 kids? The news has reported that three of the original six children have disabilities, so how could she possibly care, really care, for all of these children? I’m not saying anything – nothing – about limiting family size, but the doctor who implanted the embryos must be removed from medical practice.

    The AP reported last week that the grandmother’s home is in mortgage default (to the tune of $23k) so what happens to these children if the home is foreclosed? The kids must be the sole focus of this outrageous discussion, but I fear there is no good solution here. Just a whole lot of sadness.

  • Anonymous

    The responsibility for this ridiculous situation is the fertility doctor. He put Ms Sulemans life at risk by implanting so many embryos. If anyone should have legal repercussions in this situation, it is him. That said, I do think that Ms Suleman is irresponsible for her role in creating a situation that she could not possible manage, having so many children by IVF, even before the octoplets arrived on the scene, I certainly don’t think the government should have any say in who does and doesn’t have the right to become a parent.

    I am 43 years old and am pregnant thru IVF with a donor egg, and my husbands sperm. I have 3 children, all grown and on their own. All of them were concieved the old fashioned way. My point is that I am grateful for the technology to create another family with my 2nd husband. Getting to this point was a long and difficult road, which only those experiencing infertility really understand. ‘Complicated’, is putting it lightly. Letting the government legislate any part of that decision is just adding insult to injury.

  • IVF & miscarriage veteran… and I only just turned 30!

    Heather, I hope this means that you’ve already read Julie’s EXTREMELY well written and VERY eloquent blog post about this a few of weeks ago? (Her first post on the subject was January 31, and she’s had several follow up posts on the topic since then.)

    Find it here: http://www.alittlepregnant.com/alittlepregnant/2009/01/oh-come-on-you-had-to-know-this-post-was-coming-eventually.html#comments

    I actually hope you post and link to her blog on this, so that all of your readers will find it — I don’t think anyone will see my comment so far down here.

    Julie’s post on this awful subject is the only thing that has stopped my brain from imploding from the sheer horridness of it all. I can’t tell you how extremely painful it is to be hit with all the stupid media over all of this when all of our children are dead.

  • http://mom-o-matic.blogspot.com/ Lotta

    Lord knows there are plenty of irresponsible parents out there. How do I know this? Cause Nancy Grace never lets me forget it! But I agree that getting righteous about parenting choices is easy to do. And it’s a dangerous thing to fall into in this case.

    But I do think the extreme multiples trend is a little alarming and we can’t just ignore it. Nadja may be an extreme situation. But I do think there is a question of medical ethics when babyballs are implanted in far greater numbers than need be in order to keep the success stats of the fertility clinic high.

    Nice post.

  • Marsquat

    What about the rights of the children? Are they always secondary to the rights of the mom- to have children- biologically at all costs? These 8 children all were born- thank goodness- but at what cost to their health? Even when only 2 or 3 fertilized eggs are implanted (and folks breath a sigh of relief when only ONE is born) what has happened to the other 1 or 2 eggs? I think it is time to check our sense of entitlement when it comes to our “dream” family and focus on having – or not having- healthy babies.

  • http://madnessexplained.blogspot.com Ducking Little

    OK, I hate to post this just below the previous lady who clearly deserves to be a mother just as much as anyone else.

    But. As a very happy adoptee, I just want to say that I have a hard time understanding how anyone can justify spending huge amounts of money and time conceiving, when there are tons of kids arond the country & world who need parents.

    Asking people “why didn’t you adopt” when they conceived naturally is not necessarily a logical continuation of posing that question to someone who chose IVF. Adopting is a much longer, more expensive and more complicated process than just having a quickie and putting your legs up. Some people who would have wanted to, probably couldn’t afford to. While if you could afford IVF, you could probably also afford adoption.

    Other people probably just never got around to considering adoption. They thought, “why not have a child”, did their thang and poof, had a baby. End of story. But if you have considered adoption, and rejected it in favour of putting your relationship and body through hell and back with expensive and time consuming hormone treatments etc. etc., I personally find that a bit odd. Nobody can save the world, but everyone can give a better life to one child in need.

    I think the argument about your children looking and acting like their relatives is also a bit bogus. My looks & mannerisms are also like those of my parents, first cousins and siblings.. because we grew up together!! When my dad was strolling my kid sister, both of them blonde, people were constantly commenting on how much they looked alike and she had his nose etc. etc. Because people see what they want to see. Being in a family of three adoptees, with other adoptees and long-term fostered children in the extended family, I have a slightly different perspective on the nature-nurture puzzle than you do, I guess. Shared love and experiences make family, not just shared genes.

    I have started thinking about babies myself, and of course I have that natural instinct to personally procreate. But being a biological parent is not a right, it is a privilege. I also suffer from PCOS, although I am slim and otherwise healthy. If I can’t conceive naturally, I will pay it forward and adopt. I have waited until I was 30 to start considering children, and I might have to accept that you can’t have it all and be as fertile as if you were 22 when you want to have a career first. Not very feminist, but biologically, that’s just how it is.

    And about Suleman, clearly the fault is that of those who allowed her to implant that many zygotes at once. It’s just completely irresponsible practice. Psychological screening, anyone??

    OK, realise now this should have been a whole post on my own blog, but rant over, and by all means, good luck to you, Betsy, I’m sure you’ll make a great mum :o )

  • http://www.katherineemmons.com Kathie

    I am absolutely judging this woman. I am judging her on the basis of what in my mind amounts to extreme cruelty to these children. Never mind the multi-million tab to the American taxpayer, there is no way that she can give these sweet babies the nurturing love and attention that they need and deserve.

  • Kate

    I saw this Momversation this afternoon and it actually bothered me so much that I wrote you an email. (yes, I became the crazy lady who wrote the blogger I don’t know an email). Not because I feel that women should have their reproductive rights infringed upon in any way, but because you kept saying we shouldn’t judge her, and I totally disagree. What Nadya Suleman and her doctor did was irresponsible and put both her and her children at risk. Why? Because she wanted all of the babies NOW. She could have frozen some of the embryos. She could have had three implanted later. It’s not as if there aren’t guidelines and standards to these things, and Ms. Suleman and her Doctor decided for thier own selfish reasons not to do this and to risk the life of the children.

    They got amazingly lucky. But they still deserve to be judged and Dr. Michael Kamrava deserves to be stripped of his right to be part of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

  • Deux Yeux

    I am with you, Heather, in that reproduction should not be government regaulated, and that the primary concern here is the wellness of these children and this family.

    I do not think that she should be made a scapegoat, called nasty names, have her children taken away from her or have her ability as a mother judged (although I do struggle not to judge her specific choices). I also don’t think anyone else should have their rights restricted based on the outcome and circumstances of her IVF treatment.

    However, I am still troubled by the situation, as, of course, are many others. If she is living off of food stamps, that indicates to me that her provisioning of necessities for her children is a challenge for her, and it is certainly conceivable that if she requires this kind of assistance (which is for many people still insufficient to meet their needs) her children may have or may in the future go without. This is troubling to me for two reasons: if she had close to $100,000 (I think that was the approximate amount she stated in an interview) to spend on IVF, why should her children be subjected to that kind of insecurity? Even if they have never gone to bed or gone to school hungry, the insecurity still concerns me here, because it could have been prevented, at least in part, had she spent her money differently.

    It is also troubling to me because I feel that government assistance ought to be going to families in need– to me, a family in need is not one spending large sums of money to intentionally increase the family size, and that money could have been going elsewhere.

    Sigh. Big ups for opening comments. WOW.

  • LauraLee

    2 points:
    1) how can i begin to make a decision for others that i can barely make for myself. to have or have not, i can’t decide.
    2) you guys were on NPR, OMG! i felt so validated for whatever reason when i heard you talk about wiping hard drives.

  • Christina

    I guess I will start by saying that infertility wasn’t an issue for this women, she just wanted to have multiple children do to an unhappy childhood. She is an only child and felt like she missed out on a lot because of that. Therefore she wants to have tons of kids to fill that void. Her own mother said she has an “obsession” with children. I don’t think that she is mentally stable enough to care for 14 babies. She told the man that is the sperm donor that she has cervical cancer and was unable to conceive naturally. Also I would love to know how on earth she was able to afford IVF, we all know that is not a cheap procedure. If you are living at home with your parents that is the last thing you should be spending money on especially when you have 6 kids at home already to care for. I have seen interview with her and she is one odd person she admitted to changing her appearance with plastic surgery so that she could look more like Angelina Jolie, again where is the money coming from. I know that she gets disability, she was injured in a riot at her old job and hasn’t worked since but I can’t imagine she would get a ton of money for that. I don’t think it should be the tax payers of California job to support a women that chooses to have 14 kids if you make that decision then you should have to pay for that decision. No matter the cost. I also don’t like the fact that she is making a bad name for the women that have or are going to be using IVF to hopefully conceive. I also think that the media should stop interviewing her why should someone that made unwise decisions be getting so much attention.

  • http://www.otakugirl.us Desiree

    I am not a mother, yet. I want to put that out there. I may have to deal with fertility issues in my future, that’s a big certainty. I think my whole issue with Nadya Suleman and this whole ordeal really has nothing to do with IVF. If any media or person thinks that’s the issue, I think they’re missing the point. I will admit I was one of those people who mentioned (not offhandedly) that perhaps they should take the children away – not because she’s crazy, but because of the situation for the KIDS, themselves. It IS her right to choose to make a family however she pleases and it IS her right to decide how many children are in that family. The PROBLEM I have with this whole situation is that she was ALREADY having problems supporting her first SIX kids. Now she has 8 more. Her family has spoken out saying they’re already in dire straights from the first 6; there HAVE been reports that the conditions in which those first 6 children were living were not exactly adequate. I’m fine with a very large family IF they can afford it. See: The Duggars (http://www.duggarfamily.com). They found a way to do it, they made it work.

    As for the doctor, I have my qualms about his ethical practices but from what has been told to us (mostly via Nadya), the treatments she went through for these octuplets were no different than previous treatments of IVF. If that’s the case, then medically he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Ethically, however, I think he really needed to take a moment and think about the ramifications of doing another IVF treatment (and a large one at that) to someone who already has 6 children. It is NOT his sole responsibility, granted, but there’s a lot of questions in this whole situation.

  • http://www.recommendeddailydose.com Kate

    I talk about the crazy mom here:

    You have to scroll down aways. I think she’s just plain crazy. But it begs the question how many kids should one be able to have? Should there be limitations put on people?

  • http://irefusetogetold.wordpress.com ML

    If she is forced to give up those children, tax payers’ money will STILL go to raising those children. They will just no longer be raised by their own mother.

    This is a sticky situation, and I appreciate that you brought it up. It’s easy to just say, “oh she’s a crazy,” but it’s important to really look at two things:

    1) The fact that it’s an isolated incident, and
    2) The possibility that she knows what she’s doing.

    So thanks, Heather.

  • Me Rawr

    I think you moms are hypersensitive to this. Those of us out here in reality land, not spending every day thinking about being a mommy, do not see this as a reproductive rights issue. And if government interference will stop the next nutjob from trying to have NINE so she can beat Nadya and cash in like Nadya is doing? Then bring on the laws saying how many embryos can be injected.

    And like #44 or somewhere around there said, make it at least as hard to get in-vitro for the 7th child as it is to adopt a first one.

    Yes. I believe it. Limit the rights of people to have children if they are already NOT taking care of the ones they have on their own.

  • Bree

    I don’t want to sound like a fascist or anything but I’m in favor of a brief 10 question test for any and all perspective parents either biologically, adopted or otherwise before you can bring a person into this world. As a child protective services social worker I’ve seen the worst of the worst that parents can inflict on their children I don’t think it would be too much to ask for the same level of intent as say getting a driver license, hunting license or hell even plumbing license. Actually for all of those things you actually have to take a course to be able to do them…but hey we’ll forgo that in my perfect world in favor of something like say #1- If your 2 month old baby is crying inconsolably and you’re frustrated do you A) Beat their face against a door frame until their skull fractures and they are quiet B) Put the baby in the sink and leave it alone for a few hours to get a few drinks with your buds C) Put the baby down in its crib for a minute until you calm down.

    See not too difficult. You don’t have to be wealthy, of a certain ethnicity or sexual orientation or even that smart to pass. You just have to give a shit about the kid. I’m all for freedom of choice up until that choice leads to the serious and long term screwing up of a child to put it in “clinical social work” terms. Ok getting off my soap box, great discussion carry on.