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January 30, 2009 10:51 AM   Subscribe

"I don't think it's our job to tell them how many babies they're allowed to have." The woman who recently gave birth to octuplets already has six children. Multiple births increased 29% from 1995 to 2005. Why? What are the risks of multiple births? Despite the risks, some people WANT a multiple birth. If you are pregnant with more than one child, how should you prepare? How do you care for all those kids? What if you decide you don't want to have them all? A personal story of selective reduction. A personal story of having triplets.
posted by desjardins (192 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I don't think it's our job to tell them how many babies they're allowed to have."

I disagree. This planet is not infinite.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:54 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I disagree. This planet is not infinite.

Many 1st world countries are actually facing a massive population decline as their elder generations die-off.

Also, telling people what to do with their naughty bits is a dangerous social road to travel down. Especially when 'population control' is the excuse.
posted by jsonic at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Vagina ≠ Clown Car
posted by applemeat at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm guessing we'll be at or over 100 comments in the next 45 minutes.
posted by josher71 at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, before this thread explodes, let me just sneak in and congratulate desjardins on this post's title....
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2009 [41 favorites]


[going to share Joe Beese's popcorn]
posted by cjorgensen at 11:01 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing that makes me crazy is how so many of these super-breeders get tons of free shit from people like they are some kind of charity.

Ten babies? Oh dear! Please allow me to contribute some diapers to your immense brood!
posted by orme at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2009


Lol that is a pretty good title. Now on with the hatred and lack of empathy and inability to grok nuance! On with the black and white up and down and us and them world view! If you disagree with my dismal assessment, fuck you, stupid!
posted by Mister_A at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2009


There's an interesting discussion over at AMERICAblog after John Aravosis' s most recent post:
"Perhaps I'm wrong, but something in my gut is telling me this isn't right. A woman with 6 children goes on fertility medicine and implants 8 more fertilized eggs in her womb? Why? Because she always wanted 7 kids, and was disappointed she only had 6? I mean, it's one thing to get pregnant again after having six kids, it's another to take fertility drugs and go for in vitro. And, these are octuplets, which also raises health issues (in addition to the overall question of whether any one family can appropriately raise 14 kids). Just me, or does anyone else get a bad feeling when they read stories like this?"
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can totally understand the snark here. I just wonder how this news will land on couples who are truly struggling to conceive and heartbroken over it. Six children must seem an embarrassment of riches to them.
posted by ambrosia at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always wanted to have kids, but so far their parents have been doing a pretty good job of watching them. Think she'd miss one?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


[provides beer and lawn chairs for anyone and all]
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I find interesting about the octuplet birth isn't that she has 6 kids already (because, lets face it, there are a bunch of families with a dozen kids or more) but that the OUTRAGE against her amongst the bloggers and media was extremely telling. At first, everyone said she was a single mom, living in a trailer with her parents and how dare she! HOW DARE SHE! But, then when it comes out that she's married to a contract worker currently deployed to Iraq and who possibly might have a few bucks, now the outrage is merely restricted to over population zealots, anti-breeders, and those who hate TLC reality shows. It'll be interesting to hear why a doctor went beyond the usual recommendations and implanted 7 embryos rather than the usual two (if implantation was actually how her fertility treatment went).
posted by Stynxno at 11:06 AM on January 30, 2009


I disagree. This planet is not infinite.

Pff, Metafilter types are all anti-kid and will have died out in a generation anyway, so why should you care?
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kudos on the title. In my opinion, it is pretty selfish to have 8 kids when you already have 6. (Hell, I think having 6 is selfish). However, my opinion doesn't mean a damn thing when it comes to other people's reproductive choices.

One thing I do wonder about: is her insurance paying for this? So, in effect, is everybody paying for this in their insurance premiums? I say that because I'm a cheap bastard.
posted by marxchivist at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the mindset required to go for fertility treatment (resulting in the 8 children) when you already have SIX children. Not that they expected the 8, but come on, you have six kids. Do you really feel the need for more?
Of course, I should point out, I am from a family of eight children and I have zero children. Most of my siblings, zero. Only my older brother and youngest sister have kids.
posted by a3matrix at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2009


Artw, that will leave a huge snark gap!
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


so why should you care?

Social conscience.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:09 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to have this many children, but I don't want to do the whole wife/marriage thing to get them. Also, I would prefer to keep them in barracks and train them exhaustively in the arts of coding and assassination.

For some reason the local adoption agency doesn't see how this would be a good thing.
posted by mullingitover at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


In addition to all the other red flags, there are some ethical questions being raised.
posted by Floydd at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2009


A bit of derail but since this is a babby thread: Yes, We Can.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's my right to tell another woman what she can and can't do with her body.

I would claw someone's eyes out if they told me I couldn't have an abortion if I wanted one. I'm assuming the sentiment would be similar if someone told me I couldn't give have the number of children I wanted.

Granted, I'm talking about birthing the children, not actually being able to keep them; that depends on not failing at being a parent.
posted by giraffe at 11:11 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would prefer to keep them in barracks and train them exhaustively in the arts of coding and assassination.

Oooh, oooh. I just watched that movie on HBO the other day.
posted by ericb at 11:12 AM on January 30, 2009


One of the comments on the Globe and Mail article about this: "What was her fertility problem? That she could only have one at a time?"
posted by chunking express at 11:12 AM on January 30, 2009 [20 favorites]


orme: yes. AND while there are folks out there with much more manageable broods going without.

It's a complicated issue. I think it's the role of a society to figure out how to protect rights and liberties while also protecting common resources without putting too much of a burden on the infrastructures of civilisation or Earth.

Personal access to resources wanes even for small families (single moms with only children, even). Even if there are population droughts in some areas, that doesn't resolve the issue in areas with higher population. When one person goes out of their way to create a resource-intensive situation for themselves, other people are going to be wary. It's natural.

We don't know this woman's resources, so there is little we can assume about the situation. I know that it gives me more questions than answers, though.
posted by batmonkey at 11:13 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Granted, these children may get more attention from their parents than other unfortunate children might get from truly inferior parents. That said, there is a limit to how much attention you can give a child when they're one of 7 or 14. It really seems unfortunate and unfair to each of the children to have so many.

What really gets me though is the folks who point to the Bible as the reason to have more. The "Quiver-full" movement, or whatever else. "God will strike me barren when I should stop" is so silly. There are many things that you can over-do, and God will punish you in the afterlife, or in an oblique way, rather than literally preventing you from ever performing the task again. Oh, and quivers have specified capacities. You don't stuff as many arrows as possible into one; it ruins the arrows and the quiver.
posted by explosion at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2009


I disagree. This planet is not infinite.

计划生育政策.
posted by gman at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


*grabs some of Joe Beese's popcorn and runs off to watch Idiocracy*
posted by Brak at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I want to point out that litter is easier to spell and is shorter than octuplets.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:16 AM on January 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


As overpopulation is the biggest threat to our planet (increased battle for land, oil, food, etc, global warming, pollution, etc.), reducing the population is the clearest way to helping address those issues and global hunger, homelessness, disease, and others.

What can the US do?
1. Tax credit for having oneself rendered unable to reproduce.
2. Free vasectomies, etc, for whomever wants to get one.
3. Distribute condoms to third world countries.
4. Base aid packages to foreign countries based on their own efforts to get their populations under control.
5. Do not give people money for having babies. Provide them with health care and with food stamps, but do not give them money.
6. Have public officials, celebrities, and PSAs explaining the importance of population control.
7. Make some deal with the Pope to get on board (very unlikely to succeed).

I am sure there are many more things that can be done, but those are some suggestions. It is the most important issue of our time, and no one talks about it. Almost every global crisis could be addressed by population control.
posted by flarbuse at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'm guessing we'll be at or over 100 comments in the next 45 minutes.

Metafilter has a very short gestation period.
posted by gman at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having 14 kids is its own punishment.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:18 AM on January 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, there's two factors that people are talking about. One is having a huge number of kids, and the other is having a huge number of kids *at the same time*. The first is something that IMO, is simply none of my business (I've never been able to get myself worked up about the Duggars, beyond the hair and the clothes) but the second is a medical issue that could potentially result in terrible outcomes for the babies, if indeed they survive.
posted by gaspode at 11:19 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


计划生育政策

I am so getting that tattoo.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:20 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I've heard is that her FATHER is the contractor in Iraq--she lives with her parents and the initial six children. Also, on some other comment boards people have posited that she might have gone out of the country to have IVF, hence the large number of transplanted embryos.

In any case, I'm disturbed by the whole situation. If this woman even has insurance, it's likely they won't cover but a fraction of the care these kids will need. Plus, having fertility treatments after having 6 kids (in 5 years) just seems greedy. Why not enjoy the children you have? Isn't six enough? My sympathies lie with the children, especially the first six.
posted by catwoman429 at 11:22 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree completely with stynxno. First of all, the woman apparently requested privacy and wasn't exactly making a huge announcement. The media decided to go track down her identity (who exactly in the hospital let that slip out?) and hound her family and neighbors.

These cases are exceedingly rare, and nothing to get all outraged about. People regularly have lots of children like this in the Third World, but when someone in the First World does it, it's suddenly worth getting outraged over? As someone noted above, birth rates are down in many First World countries.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:22 AM on January 30, 2009


My immediate reaction to the news was "It's a vagina, not a clowncar." My second reaction was to pity the kids. My third was a certain feeling of schadenfreude, knowing the kids are much more likely to have severe behavioral and developmental problems and will likely make their parents lives hell.

Seriously, though, having worked with low birthweight kids 10 and 12 years after birth and having seen the serious problems and delays they continue to have, I think this is a moral and ethical issue. To me it's as if the parents are trying to do everything possible to harm their children before they're even born. So if we judge that a mother doing drugs during pregnancy is wrong because it can lead to developmental problems, so is allowing this many embryos to be implanted or carried.
posted by threeturtles at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


/me pats self on back for title. sadly, it's probably the coolest thing I'll do all day.
posted by desjardins at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2009


Having 14 kids is its own punishment.

14 children UNDER THE AGE OF 8. Amazing.

What I've heard is that her FATHER is the contractor in Iraq - yea, I heard that one, too. Doesn't sound like the major news sources can verify the woman's marital status.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:27 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Love the post title.
posted by hwestiii at 11:29 AM on January 30, 2009


Aside from the octuplets story, I've always thought it would be hard work, but sort of fun having twins. Twins run in my family on both sides (in fact, my grandfather is the eldest of 14, including a couple sets of twins) and there are a few on my mother's side as well in previous generations.

And no, I do not mean the whole dress alike, cutesy naming alike sort of stuff. I hate that. I just mean two babies growing up together, sharing a birthday.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:29 AM on January 30, 2009


14 children UNDER THE AGE OF 8. Amazing. Kill me right the fuck now.
posted by gman at 11:30 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Multiple births -- especially non-viable ones, which many litters are -- can fill up a major hospital's NICU. Most hospitals don't have NICUs at all and those that do may only have four beds. The cost for treatment for a single extreme preemie (extreemie?) averages around $1 million. Once filled, a NICU is closed and cannot take more patients. So if you're at that hospital to have a baby (just one!) and unforeseen complications arise, you're SOL.

IMO, it's unethical and just plain wrong to use up limited resources this way.
posted by grounded at 11:31 AM on January 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


that will leave a huge snark gap!

It'll never happen, Mister_A-- snark is in the genes. Just as most homosexuals have heterosexual parents, future Mefites will be the children of the non-snarky.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:32 AM on January 30, 2009


My personal goal in life is to have dectuplets, and train them to clean their plate and sit around on their couch so that they are obese little fuckers. Then I'll tell them to get on metafilter and make OMG THINZONE! MeTa callouts, and askMe posts about what is the best/most capacious SUV for the over 300 pound set.

There will always be people out there epitomizing the head or tail of a statistical trend you disagree with. Try not to get too wrapped up in individual examples when it's a whole process you disagree with. It's okay to be worried about overpopulation, but population will increase at pretty much the same rate even if we stop people from having litters. I think flarbuse has the right idea, and I hope more celebrity adoptions make it a trendy thing to do.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:32 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


it is pretty selfish to have 8 kids when you already have 6...

Wha? We have 2 and I barely have time to wipe my own ass. The lady has 14 kids! And it's not like having 14 in sequence where the older ones watch the younger ones. They're all the same age. She's got 8 sets of homework to check, 8 science fair projects to coordinate, 8 kids to feed in the morning, 8 sets of clothes to wash every weekend.

Setting yourself up for octuplets may be 5 kids of mental illness but selfish it's not.
posted by GuyZero at 11:33 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


so why should you care?

AntiSocial conscience.

Or are reproductive choices no longer off-limits?
posted by rocket88 at 11:34 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


ambrosia: "I can totally understand the snark here. I just wonder how this news will land on couples who are truly struggling to conceive and heartbroken over it. Six children must seem an embarrassment of riches to them."

They got more'n they can handle!

sorry... i love that movie...

All I have to say is that we recognize that a woman who amasses more than a certain, I-know-it-when-I-see-it number of cats as suffering from mental illness. Who won't be allowed to acquire any more cats.

Maybe this is different, maybe it isn't.

I'm just making an observation.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:34 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pff, Metafilter types are all anti-kid and will have died out in a generation anyway, so why should you care?

The question is why shouldn't you care? A lot of us are going to live to have access to cloning technology.



Props to the person who takes those two sentences and makes the best 'asexual reproduction'/self-gratification joke.
posted by Ryvar at 11:34 AM on January 30, 2009


heh, I meant 5 kinds of mental illness. I hope none of this poor lady's kids have any mental illness issues.
posted by GuyZero at 11:34 AM on January 30, 2009


You know, back when more families lived and worked on farms and it was good business to grow your own labor force, large families. Now, not so much.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 11:37 AM on January 30, 2009


What better way to share your thoughts than bumper stickers?

I generally believe that the global population decline will come in the next few decades.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2009


Liquidwolf, go ahead and memail me and let me know how many children I'm allowed to have. I've got three now, but if I'm approved for more I'd like to get to work on that right away.
posted by Shohn at 11:40 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, okay, of course no one can tell you how many kids you can or can't have, but if you can't support the ones you have (and I'm not saying this is true in this case, but it looks like it might be) and continue to have more, why should the government come in and help you then?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:43 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


jsonic: i agree with you that who can have what number of kids is a dangerous road. you never know what the people in charge would decide on for the criteria: race, income, class family connections, religion, all sorts of shady criteria that can decide if you're baby-worthy or not.

it seems like americans are now taking two paths when it comes to children:
a) become a professional, and maybe have one or two kids in your 30's.
b) decide from the get-go you want an infinite amount of children and do everything in your power to have at least 10 or so before your clock runs out.

for the religious ilk, i understand how having lots of kids is a blessing and all, but isn't having as many as possible with the aid of fertility treatments cheating a bit? playing god, a bit? if they're going to complain about abortionists taking life into their own hands, they should look at themselves when they turbocharge the easy-bake baby oven.

all of this is a moot point anyway, very soon the age of exponential population growth will come to an end, and we'll have population control the old fashion way: starvation, disease, war.
posted by camdan at 11:48 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


why should the government come in and help you then?

Why should the government help shoddily run businesses, Wall Street, or use my tax money to support killing Iraqis (or anyone else, for that matter)?

Our taxes pay for lots of things we don't necessarily want to support (though personally, I support social welfare programs as i believe it's a nation's responsibility to care for its people's basic needs). It's not the most ideal situation, but the things we do support get funded that way too. It's a trade off.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2009


For any who were frightened by the hairy ooga_booga doll, it's an art piece of sorts by a Polish artist.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2009


So if you're at that hospital to have a baby (just one!) and unforeseen complications arise, you're SOL.

No, the hospital will either transfer you and your baby or bring in backup equipment, just as they would for any medical overflow.

I don't know this woman or what kind of parent she will be. I don't think having multiples in itself constitutes child abuse. I really dislike the "(insert group here) is costing the rest of us too much in insurance, OMG!!11" because it's such a blatant excuse to bring on the hate. Needing health care is not a moral issue, and a giant chunk of health care costs in the US comes from systemic inefficiencies or bad treatment decisions, not fat people or multiple-child-producers (to name two commonly hated-on groups).
posted by emjaybee at 11:52 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


(I've never been able to get myself worked up about the Duggars, beyond the hair and the clothes)

What about the names? I mean, it's bad enough that they all start with J, but they've started just making them up because they couldn't think of enough.

Joshua, Joseph, Josiah, James? Sure, strong Biblical names.

Jason, Justin, Jackson? Why not. Common names, even if that last one is a bit "last name" for my tastes.

Jana, Jill, Joy-Anna, Jennifer? Hey, they can name their daughters too.

Jessa? Johannah? I think they might have started hitting the sauce while filling out those birth certificates. It's like Jessica and Joanna, but they missed it by a little.

And then there's Jinger. Which obviously rhymes with "stinger." No, it's not a soft sound. That's "Ginger." We're talking "Jingle Bells" Jinger.

Poor, sweet, innocent Jinger Duggan.
posted by explosion at 11:52 AM on January 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


for the religious ilk, i understand how having lots of kids is a blessing and all, but isn't having as many as possible with the aid of fertility treatments cheating a bit?

Is there any evidence that this is happening? If the woman in question was religiously motivated, most likely we'd hear about how this is for the glory of God or somesuch. I have not heard of any cases where religious persons have used fertility drugs specifically to have multiple births. The Quiverfull set seem to be pretty productive on their own.
posted by desjardins at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2009


why should the government come in and help you then?

It's probably cheaper overall than letting people starve or go homeless and having them sucking up space in emergency rooms or becoming criminals.

Besides, are you railing against food banks or something? How is your argument any different than saying "let the poor starve"? What difference does it make if the 14 kids are in one family or in 14 families? 14 starving kids are 14 starving kids.
posted by GuyZero at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Surely at some point the desire to bear large numbers of children exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem."
posted by 912 Greens at 11:59 AM on January 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


Liquidwolf, go ahead and memail me and let me know how many children I'm allowed to have. I've got three now, but if I'm approved for more I'd like to get to work on that right away.

What'd he say? What'd he say? You're over quota, right? You can choose either a set fine per child or we can sell your coveted Caucasian children to an affluent Chinese or Indian family as status symbols.
posted by gman at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


orme said: "The thing that makes me crazy is how so many of these super-breeders get tons of free shit from people like they are some kind of charity."

I don't know which disappoints me more -- the inclination to tell people how many children they are allowed to have, or the inclination to tell businesses and private citizens to whom they can and can't give away their money and products.

There are entire websites devoted to crapping on the Gosselin family (stars of TLC show "Jon & Kate plus 8" about the Pennsylvania couple who had twins via fertility treatment, then did another fertility treatment, implanted multiple embryos, and had sextuplets), because of all the money and donations they receive. This? This is the thing to get worked up over? America is a society that creates and rewards "celebrity" for all manner of dubious accomplishment. Gestating and raising eight children or fourteen children or thirty-seven children is hard no matter how many free diapers Luvs sends you. It's certainly more work than Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Brody Jenner or Heather Mills ever performed in a lifetime.

If you're going to give a bunch of free stuff to someone for the media attention, I'm sure I'd rather it was the Gosselin children or the Duggar children or the octuplet lady... than whatever vapid airhead has just "inadvertently" "leaked" his/her latest sex video to the world and will now be photographed holding the latest vodka brand or handbag during his/her 15 minutes of tacky fame.

(Frankly, I'd rather it was neither. But, welcome to the free-market, celebrity-obsessed United States of America, where getting recognized for actually being a useful, productive member of society who excels in some way that makes life better is a thing of the past. I accept that this is where I live -- and as an Average American Consumer, I have to take the good with the bad.)
posted by pineapple at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


With a big enough harness, she could have her own sled team.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


desjardins - sorry, you make a good point. i haven't heard of the quiverfulls using fertility drugs to have multiple births, if they're not i retract my statement.
posted by camdan at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2009


Surely at some point the desire to bear large numbers of children exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem."

Surely at some point the desire to eat food exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem." We should condemn those people AM.I.RITE?
posted by GuyZero at 12:05 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Think about it this way: If a doctor or hospital execs or insurance people sat down early in the pregnancy with the parents and told them that they would only cover the preemie NICU expenses for one or two of the babies, would the parents have made the choice to still have a multiple birth?

With this lot, the family would be out of pocket for 6 preemies, which would run (from average numbers) approximately $5-6 million, plus any additional costs due to ongoing health issues and ordinary child care.
posted by grounded at 12:06 PM on January 30, 2009


I know of Quiverfulls having fertility treatments to conceive children (though not necessarily multiples) despite already having large numbers of them. I lurk on several QF/large family boards, and it's more common than you'd think.
posted by catwoman429 at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


How is your argument any different than saying "let the poor starve"? What difference does it make if the 14 kids are in one family or in 14 families?

If the head of the 14 kid family already knew she was in financial trouble with 6, and took action to actively make her situation worse, there IS a different. Not saying you can punish the kids because of it, but it's a bad situation.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


As my sister remarked, "Did you hear about the woman who gave birth to a litter the other day?"
posted by KokuRyu at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2009


GuyZero:
"What difference does it make if the 14 kids are in one family or in 14 families? 14 starving kids are 14 starving kids."

When you have the choice to force those 14 kids to exist and 14 other kids don't get enough food (or whatever), you're creating a resource drain on an already limited resource pool and strained support infrastructure.

It's the same reason why people get upset about people who breed pets when most major cities are putting down multiple tens of thousands of pets a year - there are finite numbers of resources available for living beings. Creating more to compete with those resources, particularly in large numbers, is seen as selfish resource-hogging.

This didn't happen in a void. Our systems are already overwhelmed. She elected to more than double her family in one (short) gestation period, and that will have an impact. Again, though, we don't know their resources. Maybe they need no help. Maybe they won't be taking from a smaller family fallen on hard times. I guess we'll see.

Really, really complicated issue. People get blind and emotional when it comes to perceiving their impact and the role of personal choice in planning management of that impact.
posted by batmonkey at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2009


No, the hospital will either transfer you and your baby or bring in backup equipment, just as they would for any medical overflow.

In an ideal world that would be true but it's not true in the state that she had the babies. The Los Angeles Times ran an article last week on California's shortage of pediatric beds.
posted by rdr at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Really, who cares? The planet will soon have 7 billion, then 8 billion, then 9 billion people in short order. Does anybody honestly think population will go down before starvation and pandemics start to slow things down a bit?

What bugs me are all the tax breaks breeders get. I hardly think the U.S. tax code should encourage overpopulation, but I suppose every new bundle of joy is a potential voter.
posted by mrhappy at 12:14 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


If a doctor or hospital execs or insurance people sat down early in the pregnancy with the parents and told them that they would only cover the preemie NICU expenses for one or two of the babies, would the parents have made the choice to still have a multiple birth?

That's pretty much thinly-veiled coersion into an abortion. Ethically unsound.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:14 PM on January 30, 2009


Thanks, ericb, could you toss me another brew?

We're all clear here that not just the crazy people end up with multiple fertilized implanted embryos and that reductions are scary-ass procedures (even if they are the medically/psychologically/parentally sound choice), right?

There are very serious *potential* developmental complications of having low birthweight babies, which often happens with multi-fetal pregnancies. I would like to see medical guidelines happen here, but I'm not sure it can be done preemptively.

Simple hormone injection cycles (not even at the level of in-vitro) can cause a high number of multiple eggs to be released, all of which could be fertilized. Some of that can be reduced by mindful doctors, keeping a close eye on egg quality and not going through with a cycle that has 8 fully ripe-n-ready eggs. However, probability is not on the side of a full-term pregnancy. So with all the hormone shots and procedures and time and emotional havoc a woman has to go through in a cycle, putting all that treatment into one egg at a time is pretty wasteful. Depending on a woman's history, a doctor might want to shoot for having 4+ good looking embryos, to get a better chance of one or two becoming fertilized, implanting properly and being chromosomaly normal.

So what does that leave us with? Forcing reductions? Strict codified medical guidelines that leave doctors open to huge malpractice suits and lag behind current research?

Can a doc refuse a patient? Um, fertility treatment after multiples? But I'd totally see a 16 year-old coming into the office for birth control. My morals are better than your morals!!
posted by Sweetdefenestration at 12:18 PM on January 30, 2009


Surely at some point the desire to eat food exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem." We should condemn those people AM.I.RITE?

Your snark is witty and accurate because there's no such thing as eating disorders!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pineapple, I think the trash-talking about the Gosselins began when Kate stated in an interview that it was society's obligation to support her kids. She went on to say that medical science made large multiples possible, so "they" (some government entity, apparently) should also help to pay for the upkeep of the litter.

As for the octuplet mom, I don't begrudge her having as many kids as she wants, if they occur naturally. But why go through IVF when you've already got six youngin's at home? IVF procedures are expensive. Neo-natal care of eight preemies is expensive. I can only think in terms of said mom seeing the Duggars and the Gosselins getting all those freebies and thinking to herself that Discovery Health and TLC et al will come knocking at her door with endorsement deals if she successfully births eight babies.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:21 PM on January 30, 2009


I have two kids, one at a time, three year gap.

My sister had twins. It's clearly exponentially harder for her than it was for us.

Having fourteen kids under the age of 8 has gotta be somewhere around 16,384 times as hard. Whatever path this woman went down to get here, I'm pretty sure she isn't going to need anything from random internet strangers besides sympathy and possibly charity; condemnation and snark seem entirely beside the point compared to the very real financial and personal hardship she's clearly going to be experiencing.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:21 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


People get blind and emotional when it comes to perceiving their impact

Too many years of after-school specials have made people vastly overestimate their personal impact on the world. These 8 kids are a drop in a drop in a drop in the bucket. If everyone here is worried that this woman is the new normal or that there's some sort of reverse categorical imperative wherein this woman's decisions are the new universal standard, don't.
posted by GuyZero at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2009


L.A. Times:
“‘It's going to be difficult,’ [Angela] Suleman [the children’s maternal grandmother] noting that her daughter's father is going back to Iraq, where neighbors said he worked as a contractor, to help support the expanded family.

The mother of the octuplets lives on a well-kept cul-de-sac in Whittier, where more than a dozen reporters and camera crews descended Thursday.

Neighbors said she and her six children -- ages 7, 6, 5, 3 and 2-year-old twins -- live there with her mother. Her marital status is unknown. Family members did not answer the door, but when a reporter called the home asking for Suleman, she spoke briefly.

According to her account, when her daughter discovered that she was expecting multiple babies, doctors gave her the option of selectively reducing the number of embryos, but she declined.

‘What do you suggest she should have done? She refused to have them killed,’ Suleman said as the sound of children could be heard in the background. ‘That is a very painful thing.’

The information about the family came amid growing questions about the medical ethics of the case and how the woman came to carry eight babies to term.

Although the successful births at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower have received worldwide attention, they also have prompted disapproval from some medical ethicists and fertility specialists, who argue that high-number multiple births endanger the mother and also frequently lead to long-term health and developmental problems for the children.

Under the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, U.S. doctors normally would not implant more than two embryos at a time in a woman under the age of 35. After that age it is more difficult to become pregnant. The mother of the octuplets is believed to be 33, based on available public records.

…Hospital officials said the woman came to Kaiser already in her 12th week of pregnancy. They did not say where she received the fertility treatment.”
AP (first FPP link):
Media knew little about the woman until a family acquaintance told CBS' ‘The Early Show’ on Thursday that the mother is ‘fairly young’ and lives with her parents and her six children.

Within hours, media had camped out at the family's home in Whittier, where the babies' grandfather pulled up in a minivan in the evening and briefly spoke to The Associated Press. Beside him were two children — a 7-year-old and 6-year-old — who said they were excited to have eight new siblings.

But the grandfather warned that media may have a tougher time finding the family after the babies are released from the hospital.

‘We have a huge house, not here,’ said the man, who would only identify himself as Ed. ‘You are never going to know where it is.’

The mother's other children are 5 and 3, and 2-year-old twins, neighbors told the Times.
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on January 30, 2009


Your snark is witty and accurate because there's no such thing as eating disorders!

Sheesh, look what I've become. Where'd that popcorn go?
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on January 30, 2009


I think that if our goal is population control and greater societal wellbeing, our efforts would be better spent preventing the millions of accidental and unwanted pregnancies that occur every year rather than summoning up outrage over a statistical blip. This family's behavior may seem insane, but in seeking fertility treatments, we at least know that their pregnancy was intentional and very much desired. Fourteen loved children doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. I think we have bigger fish to fry.
posted by granted at 12:28 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Researchers of middle-child syndrome are certainly heralding this news.
posted by troybob at 12:31 PM on January 30, 2009


GuyZero: "Surely at some point the desire to eat food exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem." We should condemn those people AM.I.RITE?"

Well, at the least, it would be a change of pace from the polite deference with which we're treated now.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:31 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


WHAT THE FUCK
posted by fullerine at 12:32 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, at the least, it would be a change of pace from the polite deference with which we're treated now.

Given Metafilter's traditional dislike of fat I would expect that most members would welcome these kids who are comprised primarily of bone, muscle, sinew and sweetbreads. Given the troubles of feeding a large family I would expect none of them will ask for an additional seat on an airplane for free. it really is hard to understand all the outrage here.
posted by GuyZero at 12:35 PM on January 30, 2009


Whatever this woman's individual situation is, it's still a fact that there are legitimate negative aspects to the effects of having a large number of children.

Despite or even because having children is such a fundamental human right, we ought to be able to have an intelligent conversation now about this aspect of it without being shot down as if we're evil or want to make ridiculous laws.

And yes, this single event is not that big of a deal, but no single event is. The reason it's interesting is surely the points of discussion it brings up.
posted by lucidium at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Miraculous experience for Nadya S Gutierrez? Fertility drugs notwithstanding, I presume.

$12,000.00 — $20,000.00 per IVF? Wow. Are there special discounts for a dozen or so? There has to be something there, the Hospital, is it getting a kickback? Calling it an advertising budget and 'donating'?

There's a lot we don't know yet. Aside from her Mom, Anhela V Suleiman is 70 yrs., old. She must be overjoyed, bless her heart.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:39 PM on January 30, 2009


Oriole Adams said: "Pineapple, I think the trash-talking about the Gosselins began when Kate stated in an interview that it was society's obligation to support her kids. She went on to say that medical science made large multiples possible, so "they" (some government entity, apparently) should also help to pay for the upkeep of the litter."

That might have been one catalyst, but there is also an enormous contingent of people who are really miffed by the fact that the Gosselin family is given all manner of free food, gifts, perks, services, etc., in the hopes that the donor will receive some product placement on the show. This is the particular part of the Gosselin ire that I object to in general, and with orme's comment specifically. (FWIW I agree with those who think it's morally wrong to elect to give birth to multiple children with the expectation that the government will pick up the tab.)

Oriole Adams said: "I can only think in terms of said mom seeing the Duggars and the Gosselins getting all those freebies and thinking to herself that Discovery Health and TLC et al will come knocking at her door with endorsement deals if she successfully births eight babies."

As true as this notion might be, I don't think it's very cool to basically say, "I'm going to speculate as to why you elected to have those children, and then I'm going to judge you based on it."

I can see trophy wives of wealthy male celebrities rushing to get pregnant, but speculating aloud that she's a golddigger looking for a guaranteed 18-year payment plan isn't cool.

I can see second or third wives rushing to get pregnant, but speculating that they want a way to distract hubby's attention away from his children by his first wife isn't cool.

Essentially, to judge someone on why they got pregnant and why they are keeping the bab(ies), is just as wrong, in my eyes, as judging someone on why they got pregnant and are choosing not to keep the baby. As has been pointed out, this is a reproductive choice just like any other one. We should afford the same rights to the "baby factories" as we do to the "baby killers."

On preview: fullerine, I too had never heard the term "Quiverfull" before this thread, and found that link, and thought about a "W....T....F...." post. Because, WTF.
posted by pineapple at 12:41 PM on January 30, 2009


No, the hospital will either transfer you and your baby or bring in backup equipment, just as they would for any medical overflow.

Yes but neither of those options is as optimal as having immediate access to the NICU. Transfers can be very tricky. You might not be able to find a reasonably-close, open NICU and there might be (usually will be, IME) delays in getting the required critical care ambulance as well as the required staffing (at least an RN and a respiratory tech) for the ambulance.

Having worked in the ER, I wouldn't want to be that parent waiting for transport or watching my baby getting treatment in the hallway with back-up equipment. Especially not if I'd picked that hospital because of their NICU facilities.

NICUs should be for emergencies and not for exercising your right to have more preemies than you could possibly care for.
posted by grounded at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


jenkinsEar:
"the very real financial and personal hardship she's clearly going to be experiencing"

...and chose. She chose this. She elected to have IVF after already having 6 kids. She picked. This is what she wanted. She liked the idea. She signed up. This is voluntary. No one forced her (that we know of). It was her choice, and this is what she did with it. Choosing to have an extra 8 kids means you'd better have thought about the work and materials required, if you're adequately prepared for assuming this responsibility for yourself.

GuyZero:
"Too many years of after-school specials have made people vastly overestimate their personal impact on the world."

Seeing people turned away from food banks and other food programs because there were too many other people trying to get food that day has allowed me to appreciate more acutely the impact of every individual on the world's resources. Seeing people turned away from low-cost medical care because too many others are already in queue has intensified this appreciation.

Those who haven't seen this heartbreak are fortunate and I hope they value their privilege.
posted by batmonkey at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


GuyZero: "Given Metafilter's traditional dislike of fat I would expect that most members would welcome these kids who are comprised primarily of bone, muscle, sinew and sweetbreads.."

Maybe the hostility is even justified - I'm obviously not going to see it objectively. [If it makes a difference: I just polished off a big plate of fried potatoes for breakfast.] It just struck me with grim amusement that this particular analogy was a weak leg on which to lean your snark-weight.

I have you way ahead on points in this thread. Keep swinging.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2009


And yet she still feels unloved.
posted by plexi at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


I used to teach pre-school and I had 18 four year-olds at a time. I can not even imagine what it would be like to then have to take those children home with me. Lunch time was endless. Trying to get them all into jackets to go outside took at least half an hour.

Wow. It boggles my mind.

Perhaps some consider it "selfish" to have that many kids, but all I know is that any one with more than one child (someone wise once said "One is one, and two kids is ten.") does not - as mentioned upthread - have time to wipe his/her own ass. When your life is spent wiping the ass of others, selfish is most definitely not the term to use to describe it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:48 PM on January 30, 2009


how is babby formed?

how girl get pragnent?
posted by kcds at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2009


jenkinsEar: "Whatever path this woman went down to get here, I'm pretty sure she isn't going to need anything from random internet strangers besides sympathy and possibly charity; condemnation and snark seem entirely beside the point compared to the very real financial and personal hardship she's clearly going to be experiencing."

Valid point, well made.

That said: If she offered to put, say, 6 of the newborns up for adoption, there would be desperate qualified would-be parents lined up 20 deep pleading their cases.

Whatever hell she's in, she calls it home.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2009


Back in my day, they used to say that Eight is Enough.
posted by troybob at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2009


But the grandfather warned that media may have a tougher time finding the family after the babies are released from the hospital. ‘We have a huge house, not here,’ said the man, who would only identify himself as Ed. ‘You are never going to know where it is.’

Good luck with that. At the very least, the tabloids are already scouring for information online, reviewing public records and offering cash incentives to folks who know your family, not to mention hiring private investigators to tail you and your wife.
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2009


Back in my day, they used to say that Eight is Enough.

As well as 'Cheaper by the Dozen.'
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2009


On the bright side, as I learned from watching that Gosselin show, there is a vehicle capable of holding 8 car seats. I guess the other 6 kids, multiple strollers, baby gear and extra helpers are going to have to follow behind in their own octo-support vehicle(s).
posted by jaimev at 1:12 PM on January 30, 2009


Does anybody honestly think population will go down before starvation and pandemics start to slow things down a bit?

The only thing that will make the planet's population go down is better medical care and nutrition, which will lower infant mortality rates, which will in turn (it sounds counter-intuitive) lower birthrates.

Population isn't the problem. There is food and water and resources for everyone. The problem is resource allocation. If we in developed countries cut our consumption by 50%, then environmental problems would disappear.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:17 PM on January 30, 2009


I don't mind people having large number of children, I just don't think that we should enable someone who probably isn't too mentally sound with her desire to have a lot of babies. If she wants children so bad, maybe after 6 she could have adopted 8 special needs children instead. Also, while I understand that it's a woman's body to do with as she pleases, I can't help but feel that this is a form of child abuse. It's a tough line as I don't want to give the state the power to decide who can and can't have children.

But surely we can find a way to prevent abuse of this? Maybe we can make a rule for clinics saying "after a woman has given birth after in vitro fertilization succesfully one time no longer perform fertilization. If the woman desires further children she can continue attempting to conceive naturally or adopt". Or maybe still allow the woman to do it again, but only after extensive counseling to determine the soundness of mind of the mother the way people. Somewhat like those who undergo gender reassignment surgery are required to (I believe). It certainly appears that it's easier to convince doctors to allow you to have 14 children than it is to convince a doctor to change your gender. And one of these things only affects one person.
posted by Green With You at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2009


If my mother's family is any indication, all 8 kids will end up moving to opposite ends of the earth so they don't have to see or speak to each other ever again.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


My brother and his wife have two children and wanted a third. They just had twins. I figured it would be twice as much work for them, but honestly it is like ten times the work.

They are great parents and do their best to pay as much attention as they can to the two older kids, but its a struggle when one of the two twins is always needing to be fed, or changed, or just tended to.

Fortunately, they have my parents right in the neighborhood, but even with them, its taxing on everyone. Other family members are down there as much as they can to help out.

The first thing I thought of when I read this story was "her poor other six children." How does one pay attention to six under-10's when one has to pay attention to six new babies? I'm sure there must be ways, since huge families have been common throughout history, but wow does that seem sort of unfair to the first six kids.

Anyhow, I wish her, her kids, and her family the best of luck. I imagine they won't be sleeping much through around 2030.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:30 PM on January 30, 2009


Just to clarify, I meant "selfish" in the sense of using up resources, both medical and possibly social services.
posted by marxchivist at 1:33 PM on January 30, 2009


I don't think that there should be any kind of legal restriction on how many children people should have. As said above, it gets into the regulation of what people can do with with bodies, and I always feel that's an inappropriate encroachment on their lives.

Now, I draw the distinction between legal, and social here, because personally, I don't think these people deserve much more than my derision. Fourteen kids in two batches? We're humans, not bunnies, FFS.

So yeah, legally; do whatever you want. But understand, that preserves my right to point and laugh and call you "the problem".
posted by quin at 1:41 PM on January 30, 2009


NICUs should be for emergencies and not for exercising your right to have more preemies than you could possibly care for.

No, again. It is not this woman, or any woman's job, to oversee the regulation of hospital resources. That's the hospitals' job. And that of the OB giving her prenatal care, who should coordinate with the hospital where her (scheduled C/section!) delivery is going to take place to make sure that there's room in the NICU for her babies, and that any other NICU babies born at the same time are taken care of. Which they can do by sending preemie moms in labor elsewhere or making other arrangements.

They had enough planning time for this birth to have, what 64 people on hand? But they couldn't manage NICU resources? That's called incompetence, not injustice.
posted by emjaybee at 1:49 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


These cases are exceedingly rare, and nothing to get all outraged about. People regularly have lots of children like this in the Third World, but when someone in the First World does it, it's suddenly worth getting outraged over?

People have massively expensive fertility treatments, including fertilizing eggs in a test tube and implanting them in the third world all the time?

Somehow I doubt that.
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would lean toward supporting the freedom to have as many children as you do or do not want as long as you can take care of them.

The piece of this story that makes me really squirm is the choice these parents of six made to plan a multiple birth- when the odds are stacked against any one of the babies being born healthy and without life-long challenges. This, I believe, is unethical.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:55 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's a horribly selfish attitude emjaybee. Just because we're lucky enough in our society to provide for extremes of living doesn't mean those extremes are beyond criticism. And it definitely doesn't mean the people living them hold no responsibility for it
posted by lucidium at 1:56 PM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


People have massively expensive fertility treatments, including fertilizing eggs in a test tube and implanting them in the third world all the time?


You can't be that dumb as to infer that from my statement. Obviously not, but large families, yes.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:16 PM on January 30, 2009


The only thing that will make the planet's population go down is better medical care and nutrition, which will lower infant mortality rates, which will in turn (it sounds counter-intuitive) lower birthrates.

It's so counter-intuitive that it's intuitive and wrong. I am thoroughly unconvinced by this often repeated statement which has little in hard facts to back it up. At least in terms of the scope and magnitude of a problem we are facing.

Population isn't the problem. There is food and water and resources for everyone. The problem is resource allocation.

No there isn't. This is a myth. And it has got to stop. It might have been true when there 2 billion people on the planet mostly living at a fairly sustainable standard and when we in the west tolerated (or caused) levels of suffering extremely severe. But population growth is exponential. Population is not fixed.

In a under decade or two we will be well over 8 billion people on this poor little planet. There are literally NOT enough fish in the sea. Our oceans, our forests, our air — is dying NOW. There is no sustainable technique known to support six to eight billion human beings at anything close to a humane standard of living. The eventual human suffering that will be imposed by this "there is plenty for everyone so let's not encourage population control" is enormous and unconscionable.

Eight billion people eat and shit a whole bunch more than natural or even man-made systems currently know how to provide. The math is there right in front of us. So at what point do we say enough is enough. 8 billion? 12 Billion? 6 Billion? I know the theory is all this will magically level off when everybody has enough. Riiight. Seems like it's rather risky to bank on this that Star Trek future of plenty.

If we in developed countries cut our consumption by 50%, then environmental problems would disappear.

While I strongly support cutting consumption by even more than that you then face a huge problems of having an economic engine that can support eight billion people without massive suffering.

If you get eight billion people on the planet and even want to HAVE an environment you're going to have to tell them how and where to live, how to farm, how much "prosperity" they can embrace, what they can and can't eat, where and when they can or can't travel. That is your "Consumption" control. There is no way around it. Our current notions of democratic societies will not be possible dealing massive populations.

I don't think people have really thought this nonsense through at all. It sounds good. It's all just resource management and distribution - everybody can have as many babies as they like!

It's Like there is some evil force that we can just drive a stake through and then suddenly people will have lots of happy babies and live in a workers paradise, with plenty of space and forests, and wild animals, and that will be that.

It's garbage. It's not even close to being that simple.

Yup resource distribution is very titled in favor of wasteful first-worlders. We could do much better. I think our energy issues will go a great way to helping with that. We also MUST start concerted efforts to curb population growth becuase once it hits a tipping point there will be no return except by sheer bloddy apocalypse, war and death.
posted by tkchrist at 2:28 PM on January 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


“It's probably cheaper overall than letting people starve or go homeless and having them sucking up space in emergency rooms or becoming criminals.”

You’d think so, yet here we are.

“Whatever this woman's individual situation is, it's still a fact that there are legitimate negative aspects to the effects of having a large number of children.”

Yeah, I agree. One can be critical without advocating some sort of legal or government restriction.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:30 PM on January 30, 2009


Save the Planet, Kill Yourself.
posted by gman at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay. I'm watching our local ABC News affiliate (with a national pool report). Some more details -- there has been no information available about the father. The mother and six children have been living in the grandparent's house (three bedrooms). The grandparents filed for bankruptcy last year. It is the grandfather (who is Iraqi) and not the unknown father who plans on moving back to Iraq to earn money for the family.
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on January 30, 2009


CBS News: Octuplets' Family Filed For Bankruptcy
"CBS News has learned that the family of the octuplets born this week outside Los Angeles filed for bankruptcy and abandoned a home a little over a year-and-a-half ago.

Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman says the mother is in her mid-thirties and lives with her parents.

There's been no mention of the octuplets' father, Kauffman observes.

The grandfather, she adds, is apparently going to head back to his native Iraq to earn money for the growing family. He told CBS News he's a former Iraqi military man.

...The woman and her children live in a neighborhood of small, one-story homes, Kauffman reports, all with two-to-three bedrooms at most. Soon, she pointed out, there will be 14 children and at least three adults living in one of the homes -- until the grandfather heads back to his native Iraq, "
I agree that it is the mother's choice (and that of the father -- whomever he may be) to have the children, but I'd say there was very poor planning all the way around.

If they're hoping for a 'gravy train' (e.g. selling baby photos like Hollywood stars to People magazine, getting national sponsorships, etc.), I suspect that some, if not many, will take pause in jumping onboard due to the increasing controversy.
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2009


I think she was very irresponsible, but not for the reason most have stated.

"Although the successful births at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower have received worldwide attention, they also have prompted disapproval from some medical ethicists and fertility specialists, who argue that high-number multiple births endanger the mother and also frequently lead to long-term health and developmental problems for the children."


So potentially, her current six children could have lost their mother and become orphans in her quest to have more.

Other than that, hey, have as many children as you can afford without asking me or the government for help.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2009


It is the grandfather (who is Iraqi)...

Actually ...
"It was also revealed that Miss Suleman’s father - an Iraqi contractor - may be forced to return to work in his native country to help support his 14 grandchildren.

Residents in the quiet LA cul-de-sac where Miss Suleman – who they said looks to be Hispanic - lives, said they have never seen her with anyone who looked like a boyfriend or husband.

A neighbour who gave her name only as Verda said: 'I don’t think she is married or has a partner. The only male I’ve seen over there in the two years or so she has lived there is her father, who must be in his 60s.'"
posted by ericb at 3:04 PM on January 30, 2009


Oh my.
“No matter what your income, giving birth and caring for octuplets is an expensive proposition. The infants' delivery was performed by a team of 46 doctors, nurses and surgical assistants stationed in four delivery rooms at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center in Bellflower, Calif., and it likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

‘You can think of it as an eightfold increase on a singleton birth,’ said Steven M. Donn, director of the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. ‘By comparison, the mother's care will probably be a bargain.’

Costs for the average delivery of a full-term pregnancy range from $9,000 to $25,000, depending on whether the baby is delivered by Caesarean section or vaginally. Eight times $25,000 is a whopping $200,000.

But Donn said the cost of the octuplets' delivery likely exceeded that number because doctors prepared for the risks associated with a multiple-birth delivery.

‘For reasons we don't completely understand, risks with multifetal deliveries are greater than [normal births],’ Donn said.

The medical costs for babies born preterm, like the California octuplets, which were born nine weeks premature, are also above average.

‘The real significant costs come on the pediatric side, particularly when it comes to neonatal intensive care,’ said Dr. Geeta Swamy, a maternal-fetal specialist at Duke University Medical Center.

A full-term pregnancy lasts from 38 to 42 weeks, according to the National Institutes of Health, and Swamy estimated for babies born at 30 weeks the hospital stay could be ‘anywhere from six weeks to six months.’

For an infant stay in a neonatal intensive care unit, costs can add up to ‘a few thousand a day,’ she said.

‘So we are looking at probably several hundreds of thousands of dollars for the family. If it is $100,000 per baby, for example, then it would be $800,000 for all eight,’ Swamy said.

…When the infants leave the hospital, the bills will keep piling up.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Cost of Raising a Child Calculator -- a new tool the department has developed to help parents prepare for expenses and life insurance -- a middle-class family living in the western United States can expect to spend at least $9,171 on year's worth of housing, food, transportation, clothing, health, education and other expenses for a single child under the age of 1.

For eight children under the age of 1, that number mushrooms to $73,368.

…And then there are the costs beyond adolescence, like college. By the time the octuplets turn 18 in 2027, the Web site SavingforCollege.com projects that four-year tuition at a public university will cost $87,200 per student.

If all eight octuplets head to a public college, the family could find itself stuck with tuition bills totalling nearly $700,000. That sum rises if any of the children go to a more expensive private college.”
...according to public records, [the family] filed for bankruptcy in March 2008. That's ten months ago.

What was the motivation for having fertiity treatments -- to add to your brood -- when you already had nine people (three adults and six children ages 2 - 7) living in hardly optimal conditions?
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on January 30, 2009


Artw, that will leave a huge snark gap!

Possibly some kind of spikey reptillian animal will evolve to fill the niche. Of course the only humans around to see that will be fundies so they'll all pretend it didn't happen.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on January 30, 2009


Is there any Iraqi cultural precedent for this? The neighbor says she "looks Hispanic," but the father is Iraqi and the mother's surname is not Hispanic.
posted by desjardins at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2009


The neighbor says she "looks Hispanic," but the father is Iraqi and the mother's surname is not Hispanic.

The mother's name, according to the media, is Nadya Suleman-Gutierrez. Whether that's the result of her own heritage (could be a maternal maiden name) or a divorce, I have no idea.

Once I heard that, I was prepared for the ignorant Hispanic stereotypes (not on MeFi, elsewhere). I've seen too many people wondering whether she's a citizen (and worse comments) today.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:48 PM on January 30, 2009


Just posted at The Sun (so at this point take it with a grain of salt) in the U.K.--

"Eight-babies single mum 'works in IVF clinic'
"The octuplet mum works in a fertility clinic and had IVF despite already having six kids, it was claimed yesterday [Friday].

A neighbour said all 14 kids were born using the same sperm donor. Questions are being asked over who gave eight embryos to single mum Nadya Suleman-Guiterrez, 33, who lives with her six kids and parents in a three-bed bungalow.

US guidelines say under-35s should get two."
posted by ericb at 4:57 PM on January 30, 2009


Remember:

If you have no children, you're selfish and shallow.

If you have too many children, you'll have TV news cameras in the front yard, you'll get bad-mouthed on teh internets . . .

What a country, eh?
posted by jason's_planet at 5:07 PM on January 30, 2009


I think the real winner here is the grandfather, who is leaving the house. I wouldn't want to live there anymore either.
posted by marble at 5:24 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the real winner here is the grandfather, who is leaving the house. I wouldn't want to live there anymore either.
posted by marble


"Sorry I can't stay and help with the kids dear. I'm going to go defuse IEDs in Iraq. Oh, and I'll probably volunteer for a second tour."
posted by marxchivist at 5:46 PM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have just realized that nobody has been, is, or will be right about anything, ever.
posted by bz at 5:59 PM on January 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


[warning, obscure SF ref] This reminds me of the astriers in Paul Zindell's Neverness series. It's set in a far future in which human societies have dispersed across the galaxy; in the pseudo-Victorian astrier society, women have as many children as possible, both bearing them in the original fashion and employing artificial wombs. Imagine a mother of 500 children (over a somewhat extended child-bearing and lifespan).

We ain't seen nothin' yet.
posted by bad grammar at 6:04 PM on January 30, 2009


don't think that there should be any kind of legal restriction on how many children people should have. As said above, it gets into the regulation of what people can do with with bodies, and I always feel that's an inappropriate encroachment on their lives.

In this case it is not just what a woman did with her body, it is what medical science did with her body which resulted in 8 new human beings whose lives were endangered. So I don't think regulations are out of the question, particularly since octuplets rarely end well. When I first read this story it was accompanied by a sidebar of all the recent octuplet births-- in every case 2 or more of the babies had died and in several cases all of the babies had died.

What happens if this woman is diagnosed with a mental health problem? What happens if she is no longer able to care for her children for whatever reason? Is the 70 year old grandmother going to step in and take on all 14 children? I realize we are very touchy in this country about reproductive rights but medical science continues to advance. Some day it will be a 70 year old woman who is carrying octuplets or a 26 year old carrying 12 babies.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:40 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Sorry I can't stay and help with the kids dear. I'm going to go defuse IUDs in Iraq."
posted by ericb at 7:02 PM on January 30, 2009


That poor woman. No one who is reasonably healthy emotionally would do this. I wish we could all have some sympathy for her.
posted by tristeza at 7:23 PM on January 30, 2009


"Sorry I can't stay and help with the kids dear. I'm going to go defuse IUDs in Iraq."

"That's okay, Pop. Can you bring one home, though? I keep getting knocked up. Also, how is babby formed?"
posted by pineapple at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2009


I'm going to go defuse IUDs in Iraq

Thank you for not writing "diffuse".
posted by marble at 8:34 PM on January 30, 2009


That poor woman. No one who is reasonably healthy emotionally would do this. I wish we could all have some sympathy for her.
You do realize this is metafilter? If ever was there a lack of sympathy, t'was in the blue.
posted by Jeremy at 9:36 PM on January 30, 2009


I was intrigued by the cost difference between ovarian hyperstimulation and IVF mentioned in some of the news coverage of these births. For example,

Some patients with infertility problems opt to try controlled ovarian hyperstimulation instead of IVF because it is far less expensive — about $2,000 to $3,000 instead of the $10,000 or more charged for IVF. Kaiser Permanente does not cover in vitro fertilization for its members. Although the octuplets were born in a Kaiser hospital, it's not known whether the mother is a Kaiser member. (LAT)

I'm not a fertility expert, but just based on what I read in the news it sounded like unintended multiple births were rare with the IVF method and more common with the less expensive methods. I wonder if Kaiser covers deliveries despite not covering IVF. I also find it strange that in the fertility treatment context the greatest risk of multiple births (and/or the greater burden of selective reduction) should be borne by those of presumably lesser means.
posted by PY at 10:18 PM on January 30, 2009


"...the children's grandmother, Angela Suleman, told The Associated Press her daughter resorted to in vitro fertilization because 'her fallopian tubes are plugged up' and she had trouble conceiving.

She said her daughter, who is unmarried, conceived all her children that way and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager.

Fourteen grandchildren later, Angela Suleman expects her daughter is finished with fertility treatment.

'It's over now,' she said. 'It has to be. It can't go on any longer. She's got six children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn't want to get married. So she got the in vitro.'" *
posted by ericb at 5:22 AM on January 31, 2009


That poor woman. No one who is reasonably healthy emotionally would do this. I wish we could all have some sympathy for her.

Along the way I wish someone had intervened. I really wonder what doctor and clinic was behind all of this. Most other fertility clinicians and medical ethicists are pointing out that psychological screening and background checks -- such as how many children the mother/family already has -- is an essential part of the process in determing whether in vitro and other fertility treatments are advisable.
posted by ericb at 5:28 AM on January 31, 2009


“Nadya Suleman's goal in life was to be a mother, her friends and family said. That is why, even with a brood of six, including 2-year-old twins, she decided to have more embryos transferred in hopes, her mother said Friday, of getting ‘just one more girl.’

…Suleman stressed that her daughter ‘is not evil, but she is obsessed with children. She loves children, she is very good with children, but obviously she overdid herself.’

Angela Suleman said all the children are from the same sperm donor, but she did not identify him. Her daughter is divorced, but Suleman said the ex-husband was not the father.

…Allison Frickert, a friend of Nadya Suleman, said the mother was not seeking potential fame or financial benefit. ‘There was no overriding situation, other than having more children to love,’ she said.

‘Her whole life, she couldn't wait to be a mom,’ Frickert said. ‘That was her No. 1 goal.’

Friends and family also reported that Nadya Suleman worked as a psychiatric technician until she was injured on the job. Then she began having children and enrolled in school.

…She and her children live with her mother in a 1,550-square-foot home in Whittier, and her father has been working in Iraq as a translator to help support the family.

…As the media camped outside the house, Angela Suleman said in a telephone interview that she could not explain her daughter's decision.

Nadya Suleman has always loved children, her mother said. Then she sighed. ‘I wish she would have become a kindergarten teacher.’” *
posted by ericb at 5:50 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


“ABC News has learned through San Bernardino Superior Court Records that the 33-year-old California woman, whose name is Nadya Doud (she filed to have her name changed to Nadya Suleman in 2001 -- though it was not clear if the request was granted), divorced her husband, Marcos Gutierrez, in January 2008.

The document indicates ‘no children of the marriage,’ suggesting that Gutierrez was not the father of Doud's previous six children.

…Angela Suleman [the grandmother of the 14 children] told the AP that all 14 children were conceived through in vitro fertilization….She said that while all the kids came from a single sperm donor, the donor is not Marcos Guitierrez.

…An AP review of birth records identifies a David Solomon as the father of the oldest four children.

Doud lived with Gutierrez for about three-and-a-half years from August 1996 until January 2000, when she moved back with her parents, Edward and Angela Suleman, living at several addresses, records show. The parents were granted a divorce in Las Vegas in 1999, but evidently still live together.

Within a few years of living with Gutierrez, Doud began having her 14 children.

Another set of court documents may raise the question of whether Doud will be able to afford care for all those kids. The public records indicate that Doud's mother filed for bankruptcy in March 2008.

The family currently lives in a three-bedroom home in suburban Los Angeles.”*
I suspect the media is 'hot on the trail' to find Marcos Gutierrez and David Solomon for comment.
posted by ericb at 6:00 AM on January 31, 2009


These kids aren't going to get the care and attention they deserve. My mother and father had five children. Then they got divorced and my father married a woman with six kids of her own, and had five more with her. If we'd all stayed in that house, that would have been sixteen children. Of course, some were out on their own long before the youngest were grown. Still, it was so oppressively crowded when I was there, when there were just ten of us kids around, that as soon as I had an opportunity to leave, I did, at the age of five -- went to live with my mother. That didn't turn out great either, but you make do with the choices you get when you're a child.

It's a free country, but I can't really imagine a realistic scenario where this ends well, especially for the kids.
posted by jamstigator at 7:53 AM on January 31, 2009


Grandpa is headed back to Iraq and now Grandma is ditching the family as soon as the new mom returns from the hospital.
posted by availablelight at 7:53 AM on January 31, 2009


Detail from availablelight's linked AP article:
"Yolanda Garcia, 49, of Whittier, said she helped care for Nadya Suleman's autistic son three years ago."
So, in addition to supporting 14 children, care is needed for a special needs child, not to mention what health issues the octuplets may experience in the future.

Sorry, but I can't help but feel that Nadya has been irresponsible and selfish in her choices.
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on January 31, 2009


Hoarders usually prefer cats or dogs to kids. Go figure.
posted by grounded at 8:10 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow this story just gets more and more complex. From availablelight's link:

Yolanda Garcia, 49, of Whittier, said she helped care for Nadya Suleman's autistic son three years ago.

So one of the children, at least, has problems.

"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 at the same time?"' she added. "And she said it's because she got paid for it."

She got paid for it? Who is paying? The sperm donor? The IV clinic?

If I am following this story right:

1. 1996: Nadya gets married to Marcos Guitierrez.

2. 2000: She leaves her husband and moves back in with her parents-- who are also divorced but continue to live together. She is working as a psychiactric technician until she is injured on the job. She enrolls in school.

3. 2001: Unable to conceive naturally, Nadya Suleman uses a sperm donor named David Solomon to fertilize her eggs. She gives birth to her first child, the unused embryos are frozen. Continuing to use the frozen embryos, she gives birth to 3 more children.

4. 2006: She graduates with a B.S. from Cal State Fullerton

5. 2007: While working on her Master's Degree, twins are born.

6. 2008: She is divorced from Guitierrez, and the divorce decree declares there were no children of the marriage. She has the remaining frozen embryos implanted. Her mother declares bankruptcy claiming $1,000,000 debt but then withdraws filing and pays debts.

This has evolved into a story about what should be done with extra frozen embryos. The legal status of frozen embryos is murky-- some courts declaring them as children, some as property, some as neither children nor property. Should they be destroyed? Used in research? Donated to other couples? Certainly Suleman has chosen an unusual option to this moral and ethical dilemma.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:46 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


She lives in her parent's shoe, I heard. She'll probably have to give them broth with no bread, but I fear for what the child protection services will do when they found out what she does to them every night.

I wouldn't know what to do.
posted by davemee at 9:52 AM on January 31, 2009


Surely at some point the desire to bear large numbers of children exits the realm of "normal biological drive" and enters that of "serious psychological problem."

Sure. They're an edge case, just like folks at the other end of the spectrum who prefer to have no kids.
posted by Eideteker at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2009


I'm pissed at her. Selfish and maybe crazy.

I'm pissed at Kaiser. This is the same institution that dumped patients on Skid Row to save $$. How much is this act of craziness costing them and their members?

As a California taxpayer, I'm pissed that inevitably the State of Calif will end up supoorting this family.

Unless she can pimp her brood out to TLC, who's going to pay for 14 children?

I fell sorry for the children. No father around and a crazy mother. Who will give these kids love and attention?
posted by Sassenach at 12:25 PM on January 31, 2009


After reading all of that new information, I'm...well, I'm disappointed in our health care industry, but what's new?

As to sympathy, I've got loads of it. Have since the start. Doesn't mean that I'm not going to ask the hard questions and delve into how this became the situation it is. I want to understand it as well as possible for a ton of reasons.

I can't have kids, either. Various issues. Love kids. Always wanted to be a mom. Reality checked myself a lot as I was growing up since so many of my siblings and peers were breeding early, but decided I did really want them. Two, but no more. It became clear before I was even 20 that it wasn't going to happen without significant intervention. The doc kind of laughed when he said that, as if I were silly to have thought otherwise. I dropped the idea until in a LTR with someone who wanted kids and wanted to at least "try". We tried. It failed. He left - married someone else while we were still living together after telling me the adoption idea was great but he needed the kids to have his eyes.

Over the years, many people told me I should do the intervention thing. I should take the drugs, get IVF, whatever it took. "You're so good with kids! They love you so much! You'll be such a great mom!" These declarations twisted the knife and sometimes tempted me.

But three things kept me from doing it:
1. The treatments can cause multiple births that endanger the lives of the children and the mother, and I didn't want the cost of my wish fulfillment to be rife with tragedy or stress, as that's not an environment to get started in.
2. The treatments and multiple births are insanely expensive. I figured it all out at one point and for one cycle of fertility treatment, I could pay adoption costs. For one standard birth using fertility treatment, I could raise an adopted child for a year.
3. Going through extraordinary means to have children with "my eyes" or whatever made no sense when there are little ones right here in America going without love and nurturing.

Now I'm almost 38 and have no kids. They were my life's dream, and it has stayed that way. Maybe when I'm older I can foster, I dunno. Maybe I'll eventually adopt. Entirely possible. But I've gone all this time without because the reality didn't line up with the wish.

So, yes, I think this woman should have had an intervention from a mental health professional at some point. I also think her choice was selfish from a multitude of perspectives. Sick people do selfish things. You can't beat them up about it, but you can recognise it.

I believe it would be irresponsible of us to not examine this phenomenon and question the elements of it. That's how we learn, and there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by batmonkey at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


And, oh, look, she does want to get rich off of her children.

Incredible.
posted by batmonkey at 2:39 PM on January 31, 2009


From batmonkey's Times Online link:
"The single mother of octuplets born in California last week is seeking $2m (£1.37m) from media interviews and commercial sponsorship to help pay the cost of raising the children.

Nadya Suleman, 33, plans a career as a television childcare expert, since it emerged last week that she already had six children before giving birth on Monday. She now has 14 below the age of eight.

Although still confined to an LA hospital bed, she intends to talk to two influential television hosts this week - media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and Diane Sawyer, who presents Good Morning America.

Her family has told agents she needs cash from deals such as nappy sponsorship - she will get through 250 nappies a week over the next few months - and the agents will gauge public reaction to her story. A veteran from the ICM agency said: 'If she wins over Oprah or Diane Sawyer, she will have the world at her feet.'

Her earning power, though, could be diminished by a growing ethical and medical controversy."
I can't help but wonder if this was part of "the plan" all along. Notoriety, attention, a role as a television personality and...PROFIT!

Maybe I'm just too cynical at this stage.
posted by ericb at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's call it what it is: Munchausen syndrome.
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on January 31, 2009


Who helped a mother of six conceive octuplets?
"The birth of a living healthy set of octuplets in California this week raised a host of weighty ethical issues. Was it irresponsible to attempt to bring 8 babies to term when the option of selective reduction was available? Why was an octuplet pregnancy allowed to occur in the first place? When it became clear that an excessive number of follicles had developed, why did the fertility specialist continue the cycle knowing that disaster was likely to occur?

Now, amazingly enough, we learn that those were not even the biggest ethical issues involved. The babies’ grandmother revealed yesterday that the octuplets mother is young, apparently single, lives at home with her parents and … already had 6 children!

This raises the very disturbing possibility that octuplets were conceived deliberately for the attention and money that could be expected. In an age of Jon and Kate plus 8 (the hit television show about a family with twins and sextuplets), and the new show about the Duggars (the family of 18 biological children) premiering soon, it is entirely possible that this woman set out to conceive a set of higher order multiples for the fame and fortune she imagined it might bring.

...Something does not add up here. A young, presumably unmarried woman, living at home with her parents, who already has 6 children is exceedingly unlikely to be diagnosed with infertility, is unlikely to be treated for infertility even if she is having difficulty getting pregnant, could not have had 8 embryos placed in her uterus by in-vitro fertilization and would almost certainly be counseled to avoid intercourse in any cycle where 8 follicles were developing. Add to that the fact that the woman showed up for care already pregnant with octuplets and suspicions are raised that this pregnancy was conceived in a deliberate effort to have a spectacular outcome, including any publicity and money it might generate."
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on January 31, 2009


She graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2006 with a bachelor of science degree in child and adolescent development, school officials said.

So she just wanted to put her degree to good use? This story keeps getting more and more disturbing.
posted by queensissy at 4:18 PM on January 31, 2009


There's no doubt in my mind that she's a crazy lady from crazy town.

But that being said, I'd rather her earn millions of dollars than go on public assistance. Not for her, of course, but for her kids.
posted by cjets at 5:15 PM on January 31, 2009


She loves children, she is very good with children

THEN FUCKING TEACH.
posted by graventy at 5:28 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


This explains it all:

Her daughter's obsession with children caused Angela Suleman considerable stress, so she sought help from a psychologist, who told her to order her daughter out of the house.

"Maybe she wouldn't have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman," Angela Suleman said. "I feel responsible and I didn't want to throw her out."


Here's to another generation of family dysfunction!
posted by grounded at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2009


cjets:
"But that being said, I'd rather her earn millions of dollars than go on public assistance. Not for her, of course, but for her kids."

That's the precise logic that convinced my mom to take us with her when she begged for change in the streets instead of having us in school.

Slippery slope, that.

As a society, I think it's a poor model to endorse. Particularly on this scale. Precedent, implications, et cetera. Sticky stuff.
posted by batmonkey at 5:34 PM on January 31, 2009


I hear what you're saying Batmonkey. I'm really not endorsing it as much as trying to recognize the realities of the situation.

The kids are there and they're blameless. I'd rather see them with cared for by a team of nannies than see them neglected and impoverished with only their crazy, overwhelmed mom to take care of them.

But based on the negative reaction from MSM and the public, I think her chances are growing more and more remote.
posted by cjets at 6:13 PM on January 31, 2009


8 infants would require 2 caregivers in a child care center. Plus at least another caregiver for the other 6. She has been widely reported as planning to breastfeed the 8 babies. I have a hard time believing it's possible to be an adequate single parent to 14 kids, especially with 8 of them at the same age and the other 6 so close together.
posted by theora55 at 7:18 PM on January 31, 2009


I really hope that no businesses give goods to this awful science experiment and she and her family take responsibility for her actions - meaning pay their own way.
I am so tired of hearing how these chemistry experiments are "miracles" - fertility drugs used badly, not god, are the reasons more women are giving birth to litters.
Again they should not be rewarded for their grossly irresponsible behavior - babies born in litters suffer so many costly health problems that we end up paying for.
I am for better regulation and oversight of fertility treatments. This is getting out of control.
posted by hooptycritter at 6:06 AM on February 1, 2009


"Public reaction has quickly turned from joy to shock and anger."
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on February 1, 2009


From the story ericb linked above:
Medical experts across America have queued up to express their rage. "If this resulted from an IVF treatment, we can say that transferring eight embryos in an IVF cycle is well beyond our guidelines," said Dale McClure, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Meanwhile, Arthur Wisot, a fertility doctor in Los Angeles, raised a further prospect. "I cannot imagine that any of the mainstream practices in the Los Angeles area were involved in this. I would guess... she either went out of the country or went to a practice that flies below the radar," he told a TV reporter.
posted by pineapple at 10:43 AM on February 1, 2009


You can't be that dumb as to infer that from my statement. Obviously not, but large families, yes.

No one is criticizing "large families" here, there's nothing wrong with having lots of kids if they're spaced out because older kids help in raising the younger ones. But when you pop them all out at once, that's when it becomes irresponsible in a lot of ways. It's hard to care for a ton of infants all at once, and the kids are much more likely to have health problems, etc.
posted by delmoi at 3:53 PM on February 1, 2009


I expect the next wrinkle in this saga is she will be "adopted" by some fringe Christian group who will say that they are proud of her for not destroying the embryos or donating them science. She will become the Spokeswoman for: Think of the Children Frozen Embyos!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:27 PM on February 1, 2009


Raising multiple children is a selfless act of love.

Having them just because you can, when you have no financial security, and already share a three-bedroom house with two other adults and six other children, that's what's selfish.

I don't believe in curtailing a woman's right to choose, or limiting all women to a pre-agreed-upon number of children. That's a dangerous and slippery slope.

But given what I know about what the stresses of even going through fertility treatments can do to potential parents, I think that suggesting psychological evaluation and counseling for anyone considering fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization is not an unreasonable safeguard.

This woman's mother and father are obviously enabling their daughter because they don't know how to handle what appears to be a mental compulsion she has to give birth to as many babies as possible. She clearly needs professional help.

I worry, too, that her "love for children" may mean that once they pass that cute, helpless, totally-dependent-on-Mom stage, they will have lost their attraction for her.
posted by misha at 9:57 AM on February 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


misha said: "Raising multiple children is a selfless act of love.

Having them just because you can, when you have no financial security, and already share a three-bedroom house with two other adults and six other children, that's what's selfish.
"

Quoted for truth. Since more has come out about this story since I first posted, I am no longer of the "hands off the octuplets mom no matter what" camp, because I think that there are enough facts in the light now that anyone can reasonably look at this situation and say, the mother has some serious mental problems, and the doctors who implanted eight viable embryos in a healthy, fertile young woman probably violated some ethics rules.
posted by pineapple at 1:06 PM on February 2, 2009


Octuplets' mom hires PR firm, considers offers
"The mother of the octuplets born last week in California is getting a lot of offers for book deals, TV shows and other business ventures.

That's according to a PR firm she's hired.

The head of the PR company says Nadya Suleman is 'the most sought after mom in the world right now.' She says hundreds of requests have poured in from all over the world.

Joann Killeen says Suleman hasn't made any decision on what she might do. Suleman remains hospitalized with her children in Los Angeles.

Killeen says some of the deals and requests for interviews involve offers to pay. She's not saying how much is being offered, but notes that it will be expensive to raise eight babies. She says Suleman plans to carefully review her financial opportunities."
posted by ericb at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2009


Dionne 2.0
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:32 AM on February 3, 2009


The thing that amazes me is the media spin. The first few days, ALL the stories I saw (around 6 of them) were focused on the irresponsibility of the medical personnel involved in this story, how these types of births are dangerous, etc. Which was accurate and refreshing. Then, maybe because of this PR firm, or the fact that the kids have lived so far, it's all changed into "she's a great person," and "8 babies, how remarkable!" I'm intensely annoyed that this story is quickly turning into every single multiple birth story ever.
posted by agregoli at 2:56 PM on February 3, 2009


People do the craziest things to get rich.
posted by bz at 2:59 PM on February 3, 2009


>> the doctors who implanted eight viable embryos in a healthy, fertile young woman mother of six probably violated some ethics rules.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:42 PM on February 3, 2009


Octuplets mom getting outrage rather than gifts
"Where is the unlimited supply of diapers, formula and baby wipes? The free van? The brand-new house?

Women who give birth to six, seven or eight babies are often showered with dazzling gifts from big corporations, local businesses and strangers. But that is not happening with the Southern California mother who delivered octuplets last week."
posted by ericb at 7:07 AM on February 4, 2009


Is there some kind of drug cocktail that would make parents bond to adopted children as fast as they do their own?
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2009


Octuplets’ mom: ‘I love my children' [video | 05:47].
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on February 6, 2009


Who said that parents bond immediately to their own children? I've heard numerous reports of "learning to love" that new baby.
posted by agregoli at 9:09 PM on February 7, 2009


Not immediately, but oxytocin is released in breastfeeding, which supposedly greatly aids the mother child bonding. It seems from my limited reading on the subject that there are a lot of biological mechanisms that aid the bonding process, especially with newborns (which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective). Adopting an older child might be a little more difficult from a bonding standpoint.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:53 PM on February 7, 2009


Grandma Blasts Octuplet Mom: "Nadya's Not Capable".
posted by ericb at 8:56 AM on February 9, 2009


And many mothers don't or can't breastfeed, or have trouble with it. It's not going to be totally chemical anyway - I just find the idea preposterous that you would take drugs to make you more "lovey" towards anyone, child or adult. You're talking about a modern day love potion, and there's no way to accomplish that yet.
posted by agregoli at 3:07 PM on February 9, 2009


(I hope they never accomplish it, because think of the ethics involved in such a thing - if the mother stops taking the drug and falls out of love with the adopted child?)
posted by agregoli at 3:08 PM on February 9, 2009


You're talking about a modern day love potion, and there's no way to accomplish that yet.

Not a love potion no, but there are drugs that stimulate oxytocin.

think of the ethics involved in such a thing - if the mother stops taking the drug and falls out of love with the adopted child?

I'd think the oxytocin inducing drug would only have to be taken for a short while to ensure some degree of bonding.

As for the preposterousness of it, you are correct there, but I proposed it more as a thought experiment. Why is adoption often the last choice after expensive fertilization treatments fail? Why do insurance companies cover fertilization treatment but not adoption? For that matter, why doesn't health insurance treat pregnancy like other elective health procedures?

Essentially there seems to be a cultural stigma against adoption, and I can't understand why that would be so unless there is a biological basis in terms of impaired bonding.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 AM on February 10, 2009


She's got a website now, complete with paypal account for handouts.
posted by zarah at 10:51 PM on February 11, 2009


The excesses of Nadya Suleman.
posted by ericb at 10:01 AM on February 12, 2009


$50,000 In Debt, Receives Food Stamps, Disability.
posted by ericb at 10:04 AM on February 12, 2009


If she had a back injury so bad that she received disability payments, I can't imagine what further damage carrying eight children in her abdomen must have done to her "injured" back. Maybe they should be investigating her for insurance fraud, as well...
posted by misha at 10:55 AM on February 12, 2009


Photos of pregnant Mom (aka "Octopussy") eight days before giving birth.
posted by ericb at 3:33 PM on February 12, 2009


I was about to post that same link. I'm amazed she was able to stand up.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on February 13, 2009


Gloria Allred files a complaint with DCFS and offers help.
posted by rdr at 1:08 AM on February 20, 2009


Video: Home of Octuplets Grandmother in Default.
posted by ericb at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2009


Los Angeles Times: Father of octuplets' mother calls her "absolutely irresponsible".
posted by ericb at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2009


Los Angeles Times: TLC not interested in Nadya Suleman -- thanks much.
posted by ericb at 8:35 AM on February 20, 2009


Gloria Allred files a complaint with DCFS and offers help.

CBS News: Octuplets Mom Spurning Offer Of Free Care?
posted by ericb at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2009


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