Friday, June 28, 2013

Couple goes through IVF, gets pregnant with twins, and regrets it...

I just read a couple of very sad articles written by prospective parents.  The first article I ran across was written by Paula Garland after her husband, Albert, had written an article about dreading becoming a father to twins.  It seems this couple, now pushing 40, live in Boulder, Colorado and have a son that they were able to conceive naturally.  They wanted to provide a sibling to their son because they each had a sibling themselves and thought their son should have one.  I noticed that in their articles, they both made comments indicating that they probably would have been okay with just having one child; this second child was for their child, not for them.  Mrs. Garland writes...

We currently have a three-and-a-half-year-old son. While my pregnancy with him was relatively easy, we were hit with severe colic during his first year that wreaked havoc on our lives. We’ve pretty much had struggles with sleep and behavior ever since.
Yet despite these challenges, we still wanted another child — a sibling for our son, mind you, not so much for us.

They were hoping to have a little girl and tried for a couple of years to get pregnant naturally.  Then they tried IUI a few times.  Finally, they resorted to IVF and ended up with two excellent embryos.  Their doctor told them they had a better chance at having a pregnancy that "stuck" if they had both embryos implanted.  So that's what they did... and now they are pregnant with twin boys due in August.  They very briefly considered having selective reduction, but that option apparently seemed immoral.  So they kept their twins, even though now they are wishing them away.

In his very candid essay, Mr. Garland explains that he dreads the birth of these twins, expected in August.  Their older son had colic really bad that left his parents frazzled.  Mr. Garland had asked his friends with twins about what he could expect and his friends very candidly told him horror stories about what life is like with twins.  In her essay, Mrs. Garland writes about how physically exhausting it is to carry twins.  Now, instead of looking forward to the blessed event, Mom and Dad are fretting about everything from their finances to their projected loss of sleep.

Let me make one thing clear from the start.  I empathize a bit with these parents.  I'm sure their complaints are perfectly valid and very real.  It is expensive to raise kids, especially when you resort to IVF.  And then, when you've paid all that money to get pregnant and you don't get what you paid for, maybe it seems like you were ripped off in some way.  On the other hand, there are a lot of people-- myself included-- who would have been delighted to have one child conceived naturally.  IVF seems like an option for people who are driven to be parents at any cost.  If you already had a son and parenthood was difficult and expensive, why would you risk IVF simply so your son can have a sibling that you sort of admit you don't even want?

I guess I can understand the feeling of pushing 40 and feeling like you have to reproduce.  I just turned 41 and have no kids.  I think about all the people who went into the making of me... the number is unfathomable, really.  And there won't be any direct descendants from me personally-- not unless a miracle happens.  I decided a long time ago that I didn't want to pay to get myself pregnant.  It was enough that my husband had his vasectomy reversed.  It took us a long time to recover financially from my husband's first marriage and I finally started to realize that the vasectomy was probably a blessing in more ways than one.  But I still wonder what it would have been like to have kids... and I imagine if I'd had one child, I'd probably feel like I'd want to have another.

But I was also one of those kids who never really felt wanted by my parents.  I was told many times when I was growing up that my mom didn't want a fourth child.  She told me a lot of times that she was upset that she got pregnant with me.  I always got the feeling my dad would have preferred a son.  We actually never really got along that well, even when I was little.  I got the message from both of them that I wasn't really planned and was cramping their style.  I made the mistake of mentioning this to an aunt, who then told my parents... and I got a good tongue lashing for that, too.  In other words, I understand what it's like to feel like your parents were disappointed in you from the get-go, even though they are responsible for the fact that you exist.  It took a long time to get over that.  In fact, I'm not sure I ever really have.

So when I read these essays written by these parents who didn't even have an "oops", but actually took expensive, proactive steps to get pregnant and are now complaining that they didn't get exactly what they wanted, I can't help but feel a little disgusted, even as I can on one level, sort of see where they're coming from.  To me, it seems pretty irresponsible to bitch and moan about something like this.  I really hope their attitudes change once the babies are born and/or they both get some competent professional help in dealing with the awesome responsibility they are about to take on.

I hate to sound judgmental.  Really, I do.  I have never been pregnant and don't know what it feels like.  I have never had to tend to babies in the middle of the night.  I was often told about my own bout with colic and how it drove everyone crazy, but I never had to deal with any colicky babies myself.  Technically, I'm a stepmother, but my husband's kids disowned him and refuse to have anything to do with us, so I can't even really fall back on that experience to give me some insight into how this couple really feels.

However one of these days, those twin boys will most likely know how to read.  I only hope they never run across these essays written by BOTH parents.  Actually, given the stress these two are under and the dismal success rate of marriages in general, I hope these two are able to stick together and raise their sons.  They went through a lot to create them.  I hope for all their sakes, they can enjoy them and the negative feelings they are experiencing and daring to express will eventually pass.  I guess I can at least give them credit for honesty.

I posted these articles on Facebook.  A few of my female friends, all of whom are moms, had comments.  One said she feared Mrs. Garland is suffering from depression.  Having read her essay, I don't doubt it.  Having experienced depression myself, I can say I empathize... and I'm sure being depressed and dealing with a toddler is very challenging.  For that reason alone, I would think getting pregnant would be a bad idea.  But hindsight is 20/20.  What's done is done.

I would hope that these folks realize that life is a crap shoot.  You never know what's going to happen.  You plan to have a boy and a girl and call your family complete.  You end up with a son and twin boys.  If they're healthy, count yourself lucky.  If they're not, deal with it.  You really did sign up for this, especially if you've had IVF.

I hope these two get it together so those boys don't end up feeling responsible for their parents' unhappiness.  I wish the Garlands-- especially their three sons-- much luck.


  1. They'll be fine. Yes, twins are a bitch, but they're better in real life than you would expect (I have a baby niece and nephew who are twins). These two remember the colic. They are being honest and open, which is good.

    But I'm sorry to hear about your experience. That sounds hard. But look what an interesting person -- and writer -- you turned out to be.

    Want a kid? Get drunk in a bar or see a doctor. Be careful what you wish for.

  2. No, the kiddie ship has sailed for me, Dave. I don't think I want them now. I'm too old, fat, and set in my ways. And, like I said, I have no desire to pay money to get pregnant... I've been drunk in a bar many times and it hasn't once resulted in pregnancy. At my age, I doubt one drunken tryst would do it, or even that someone would volunteer for the job. Besides, I wouldn't want a baby by anyone but my husband.

    Beagles are proving to be enough for me, anyway.

    Regarding the couple who prompted this post, I think I gave them credit for being honest and open. I'm not even sure I could totally ding them for posting this on the Internet, since it is leading to discussion. However, it really isn't fun to feel unwanted by your parents. I know that from personal experience. It can lead to some serious baggage that other people end up having to deal with.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. First of all, I hope to God the twins are healthy and neurotypical. If these parents are dreading colic, what in hell would they do with autism, which happens in fraternal multiples about as often as it happens in any other circumstances? We have friends with fraternal triplets -two girls and one boy-- conceived naturally, and all of whom have some degree of autism. And this isn't a family who was doctor shopping until they got the autism diagnosis they were seeking; these kids are the real deal. I feel so bad for the parents because they wanted a second child and conceived naturally, but won the lottery and ended up with three babies. The girls are somewhat functional but incredibly quirky and slow to pick up on social cues. The boy will never live on his own.

    My mom would be the first person to tell the couple that having twins is not the end of the world, and that she wouldn't have had it any other way even if she could have.

    My uncle is a pediatrician, and pediatricians often end up being informal counselors and consultants to parents. He says he always tells parents to have the number of children THEY want and can manage financially, emotionally, and logistically, because, throughout history, children have done fine with whatever number of siblings they have, whether that number be zero or nine.

    I recently had lunch with my grandma. She is the mother of ten. She would be the mother of eleven but she lost a baby to SIDS. She says a day doesn't go by that she doesn't miss the baby she lost. While I think ten or eleven children is extreme, my grandma said she had every one of her children not because anyone else needed a sibling, and not because the church told her to multiply and replenish the Earth, but because she wanted another baby each time. She said nothing made her happier than caring for babies, but that she also enjoyed all the other challenges of child-rearing, including watching Little League games and tennis matches, shuffling kids back and forth to dance and piano lessons, balancing budgets so that a child's lost sweater could be replaced, and even caring for sick children. She says that losing the one baby was bad enough, but that she couldn't imagine life without any other of her children. By all accounts, despite some mental health issues, all her children say she was a great mother. (Her husband was a complete SOB, but that's another story.)


  4. My grandmother also told me that it wouldn't be surprising, because I am so much like my mother in many ways, if I inherited her difficulty in carrying babies to term. She said if such is the case, or even if it isn't, I should be happy with one or two healthy babies. There's no perfect number. And she reiterated that I should have babies for my husband and myself -- especially myself -- and not for anyone else, whether it be my parents, or for the children themselves. The quote she gave me was, "Find Abel and ask him whether or not he wishes he had been an only child or was happy to have had Cain as a brother. Ask Joseph the same thing." My relatives always have to refer to scripture to make their points. This particular grandmother had one set of twins, and she said it was a little more work and a little less sleep, but very manageable.

    It sounds as though the parents in the article made a mistake. Now they're stuck with three choices; give away one, give away both, or keep both. Chances are that they'll keep both because it would take a lot of guts to give up a baby or two, and separating twins at birth somehow seems just wrong. Regardless, I hope for those babies' sakes that the parents are willing to make the best of it when the time comes.

    My mom said once she got through my immediate preemie phase, whenever she felt down, she'd put us in our cribs, screaming if necessary, give the house a quick picking up so she wouldn't have to come home to a messy house, and then dress us up really cutely and load our stroller into the car to take us to the mall. Hearing people ooh and aah over how cute we were made it seem all worthwhile. Then she'd come home to a clean house and two babies that were ready to be fed and have a nap.

    The one I'm a bit worried about in this family scenario is the older sibling, who will have to deal with his parents' unhappiness if they don't get their acts together. I sincerely hope for everyone's sake that they do. Sometimes when you make a bed for yourself, the best thing to do is simply to sleep as comfortably as you can in it. These people have no one to blame but themselves, so I hope they do not, other than the basic post-partum depression that sometimes happens, share their misery with everyone around them.

  5. I posted the link to this blog post on Facebook. I almost never do that because some of my Facebook friends either know or are subjects of rants I post here, particularly during the early days.

    Anyway, my former therapist is a Facebook friend and he pretty much had the same worries as you do about the older boy.

    I agree that parents should choose how many kids they want and not have babies for anyone but themselves. My husband and I are fortunate in that my parents have never pressured us for grandchildren. My husband's mother was only able to have him (and they both almost died in the process of his birth) and his stepmother was never able to get pregnant and adopted instead. My husband has two daughters with whom he had a good relationship until he and their mother divorced. Under the circumstances, he was okay with not having more-- though he would have liked to have had a child with me and even had his vasectomy reversed so we could try.

    Now that I'm older and I see how kids live and what they have to deal with, I'm thinking it's not so bad that we don't have kids.


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