This is going to be a more personal post. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone. Since this past weekend, I get this question A LOT! I suppose since I have triplets people assume I can feel better knowing someone is in worse shape than me. But I don’t.
I am fairly open about how I ended up with triplets. As more and more stories of sextuplets, quintuplets and octuplets appear, people are more and more curious about fertility treatments, which I wholeheartedly support. And ethics definitely come into play. I do not know the details of how a women who is designed to hold one baby at a time possibly got pregnant with eight babies, carried them to 31 weeks and plans to breastfeed them all. I can say when I hear this (especially the breastfeeding part), I can’t help but roll my eyes. I do know how I ended up with triplets and have learned a bit about fertility treatments through the process. It seems like a good time to share my story again, and some more personal feelings on my pregnancy and the octuplets.
I did not ovulate. No amount of “trying” was going to result in a baby. I visited a reputable reproductive endocrinologist and we began with a very basic fertility “treatment”. Clomid is often referred to as the “gateway” fertility drug. It helps women who do not ovulate, ovulate and helps regulate woman’s cycles. You take the drug, which comes in varying doses for 5 days. You may be surprised at the number of women who have tried Clomid. The chances of multiples is very low; the chance of triplets was so low it was not even mentioned. We did not even know the chance was less than 1% till after we found out we had triplets. Some people who use Clomid are monitored very closely. They will go in for regular ultrasounds to see how many (if any) eggs are developing, may receive a trigger shot of hormones to trigger ovulation and then get an IUI (sperm is injected to up the chances of fertilization). All of these will increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Some are not monitored at all yet still concieve on Clomid. I happened to be one of these. I got an ultrasound before starting treatment and had absolutely no eggs that would mature (there was no chance of me ovulating on my own). I took the lowest dose of Clomid for 5 days. The doctors prepared me for failure since most women with my condition need injectable hormones or IVF (fertilizing a woman’s eggs with sperm outside the body and then reinserting the embryos back into the woman’s body) to concieve. I received no further treatments. The next ultrasound I had confirmed I was pregnant…with triplets.
I wish I could say this initial news was a happy moment for us. In all honesty, the meeting in the RE’s office afterward was fairly grim. He told us he did not consider our triplet pregnancy a success. He said “we do not think triplets are cute.” He apologized repeatedly that “this happened”. He told us “in fact, I plan to talk about the fatality of high order multiples in reproductive medicine at a conference coming up.” He personally called a high risk specialist so that we could get in and see him “while there is still time to do something about it (i.e. – reduce our pregnancy to twins or a singleton)”. On a posotive, he did end on a different note by saying “I am completely astounded that this happened. It seems there might be some divine intervention going on here.”
We couldn’t be happier with our triplets! They are a blessing and a joy. They are also SO MUCH WORK. For the past 2 months, we have had sick babies. Their immune systems are not on par with a full term infants and they are really battling with a nasty virus. Josie and Mia were both fully recovered for a few days. Then Marcus got really sick and now Josie and Mia are both sick again. I have to hear my poor darlings cough and cry all night and cannot give them any medication to relieve their symptoms besides infant Tylenol. There are nights Max is unable to make it home unexpectedly and I have to try to get 3 babies fed, medicated, dressed and into bed, fill up their humidifiers and clean up the aftermath(it looks like a tornado went through). I hate these nights because the babies are tired and hungry. I cannot work fast enough to prevent several minutes of screaming (although I found out TV helps out here). I feel so bad they have to wait to be fed and allowed to sleep. The poor darlings get very little individual attention during the day and they probably spend way too much time in their jumparoos.
I want to scream when people tell me “oops, it looks like that one just spit up a little.” or “is that a spot of dried spit-up on your rug?” or my favorite “is that a stain on her clothes…using a stain stick before washing always helped me.” HELLO, I’m a little busy to wipe up every tiny spit up, clean the carpets and stain stick the 40+ outfits we go through in a week. Maybe I could be doing some of those things now but I strongly believe a women needs at least an hour of personal time/day. If not, I would have gone completely mad by now.
So, I do think it is a little wild that a women who already has 6 kids at home, is bringing home another 8….and is going to have the time and supply to breastfeed them all. It kind-of makes my situation seem like a breeze. I mean if she can do that, how could triplets be a challenge? I assure you my friends, it is a challenge. 14 kids seems downright impossible. Especially if 8 are preemies, which carry many challenges alone.
I also assure you my friends that triplets are a JOY! The experience is amazing and my kids are wonderful. There are days where things go very smoothly, everyone is happy and we all get great sleep. I truly am blessed. I simply would not wish high order multiples on anybody and don’t think it should be glamorized. It breaks my heart to see other triplet moms who have lost one or all of their babies hurt to hear about a women who gave birth to 8 babies. If you have had a baby recently, give them an extra hug tonight. I did. I think this story brings up lots of emotions for women struggling with infertility, for women who have multiples, and for people debating the ethics of fertility treatments. Guidelines do exist, but sometimes unexpected things happen or people act irresponsibly. I simply hope the octuplets are loved and cared for and have a wonderful life.
My long winded post has no major take home message except this:
“Yes, I have heard about the octuplets”
“No, I cannot imagine…life is challenging enough with 3″
“Be responsible, love your babies, provide the best environment for them, and cherish the moments no matter how many babies you have or how they got here.”