As Cafe Suzanne reported yesterday, a woman in California gave birth to eight babies. Eight. As a mom of multiples--a mere two girls--I fully believe the only thing that should come in eights is a Whitman's Valentine's Sampler.
But it doesn't matter what I think. Fertility experts are also scratching their heads at the birth of octuplets. Of course, everyone is cheering for the family's good health. It's just that eight babies shouldn't happen--not all at once. (Michelle Duggar is just fine after 18 babies, after all.) That many babies in one pregnancy is incredibly risky, and doctors are supposed to avoid putting moms and babies in danger at all costs.
"When we see something like this in the general fertility world, it gives us the heebie-jeebies," Michael Tucker, a clinical embryologist in Atlanta and a leading researcher in infertility treatment stated in the Los Angeles Times. Tucker added that in his opinion, "if a medical practitioner had anything to do with it, there's some degree of inappropriate medical therapy there."
The chances of eight babies being born naturally is very close to impossible, researchers say. Today's fertility doctor's are trained to avoid high-risk pregnancies like this most recent one. Most likely, the babies were conceived using ovarian hyperstimulation, a treatment that stimulates the ovaries to produce many eggs. As the eggs reach maturity, the patient usually gets artificial insemination.
If too many eggs were stimulated, doctors will often not follow through with a second medication that releases those eggs. They can also drain the follicles to reduce the number of eggs. If a woman has many eggs and chooses to proceed with her treatment, she can later abort some of the embryos if a high-order pregnancy occurs. Many patients dislike that option. Obviously, it would be heartbreaking--a horrible choice to have to make. That's another reason fertility docs are supposed to keep the number of babies in check. This mother had immense emotional and physical risks to weigh. That many multiples are far more likely to suffer from birth defects. Plus, her pregnancy probably felt like being trapped under an 8-passenger mini van.
The good news is that the mom and babies are doing amazingly well according to the latest reports. The parents' names have not been released, but they are at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center in California. The babies--six boys and two girls--were born on Monday via cesarean section, 9 1/2 weeks early. The eighth was a surprise--doctors were only expecting seven. They ranged in weight from 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces. A few of the babies are stable, and the two who had breathing tubes are now breathing on their own and have started feeding.
Maybe this couple will get advice from Jon and Kate Gosselin--I bet the Gosselins will at least send a nice card. They only had six (only, right?) at once, but they also have a set of twins. If you're a Jon & Kate Plus Eight fan, definitely check out the group Jon & Kate Plus 8 Debate! I have three under three, and I watch that show in utter shock and amazement.
Thank goodness for the octuplets' happy ending so far. What is your opinion on these high-order births?