Octuplets Born, Fertility Treatment in the Hot Seat

January 27th, 2009

In case you haven’t yet heard, a woman gave birth via cesarean to octuplets this week. That’s eight babies. EIGHT!! They could make a human octopus, or a stop sign, or a spider, or any other thing with eight sides or appendages.

All joking aside, it’s a miracle that the brood is doing well. In fact, the two who needed breathing treatments are now off. Their weights ranged from 1 pd 8 oz to 3 pd 4 oz. Unbelievable.

The hospital is being very respectful of the parent’s wishes to not disclose their identity, nor how the babies were conceived. I’m no expert, but I can’t imagine this was natural. The critics are of course coming out of the woodwork, fertility treatment be damned and what not. This story here in the LA Times even, without saying so exactly, suggests that selective reduction should have taken place (or at least that was my personal interpretation). “Doctors should be making efforts to curb these higher-order multiple gestations,” said Dr. Geeta Swamy, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University. Whether you’re pregnant with one or ten, that’s a choice left to the parents, not the medical community at large. That’s a choice I hope to not ever be in a position to make. If fertility treatment was involved, I’m sure these people were finally able to achieve a pregnancy, and come hell or high water were having all of them. I don’t blame them.

“When we see something like this in the general fertility world, it gives us the heebie jeebies,” said Michael Tucker, a clinical embryologist in Atlanta and a leading researcher in infertility treatment. Tucker added that in his opinion, “if a medical practitioner had anything to do with it, there’s some degree of inappropriate medical therapy there.” We’ve had countless conversations between ourselves and Dr. T about the number of embryos to transfer. One is the number that everyone comes back to time and time again. It’s safe, in our case it will be effective and it’s attainable. I can’t speak for these people and I’m in no position to point fingers, but I can’t imagine what the conversations sounded like in which it made sense to transfer enough embryos to produce eight babies.

I’m thrilled that this couple can now call themselves parents and that they have eight children to call their own. I pray that each and every one of those 80 toes, 80 fingers, 16 lungs and eight tiny hearts make it home healthy, safely and prepared to deal with a lot of hair pulling!

UPDATE: Obviously, we’ve since learned that Nadya Suleman did this genius act of fertility acrobatics without a spouse and with the consent of her doctor. Awesome.