I first heard about the NYT article, The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, from Facebook when one of my co-workers posted a link to an editorial on it written by a Southern Baptist doctor. I won’t link to his post but let me just say the word ‘murder’ was in his title. As ignorant as I thought that blog post was, as I read the NYT article, I flinched all the way through it. And then I read Mel’s post. And then I read Dora’s. I had too much to say for a comment and didn’t think I had enough time to write a proper post (thank goodness for a slow work day) but I couldn’t get the article out of my head.
When the beta hCG for my fourth pregnancy was as high as it was (422 @ 14dpIUI) and then skyrocketed from there (1287 @ 16dpIUI and 3694 @ 18dpIUI), the thought that there was more than one was pretty clear and that there could be more than two even entered my mind. And that introduced the thought of selective reduction. I quickly put that thought aside until I knew the facts which believe it or not, I am pretty good at doing. (I’m a one day at a time kind of girl. I mean I have to be - I’m a single mother who doesn’t make a lot of money and who doesn’t have a lot of physical support. I have to take it one day at a time or I will have a major anxiety attack!) But this is not about selectively reducing high order multiples; it’s about reducing a twin pregnancy to a singleton. I admit I breathed a sigh of relief after the first ultrasound showed that there were only two but there were two. And one of me. I won’t deny the thought of reducing was still there. Briefly. I am thankful I didn’t make that choice. Not only am I doing it, my babies are thriving. And my life is so full.
I wonder why the Times didn't profile someone like me: a single mother who, after her 8th IUI and 3rd miscarriage in a row became pregnant with twins and briefly considered selective reduction because, well, she’s single. Beyond that, She (Me), at age 40 ½, had a fairly uneventful pregnancy, worked full-time until 36 ½ weeks, carried to 37 weeks, and while there were a few complications at the end of the pregnancy, gave birth to two healthy boys with no known medical issues or developmental delays. Wait, I know why. Because that’s boring. It’s much more interesting to say IVF instead of IUI, discuss the negative impact raising twins can have on families and mothers, and talk about struggling rather than thriving.
I read how the subjects in the article couldn’t imagine caring for twins – TWO infants. OMG that’s so hard, how will WE manage, how will we afford it? In their defense, I don’t have other children and I don’t know any differently. And the reality is I am one of the lucky ones. I know how lucky I am that my boys went to term and are healthy. I've read a lot of blogs where a twin is lost either before or after birth, or where one twin is healthy while the other is not. I know about a dozen families in real life with twins and can think of only one or two where there is not a medical issue (that I know of) with at least one of the twins.
And I especially wonder about this statement taken from the article:
Because A. had already miscarried once, her doctor worried she might not carry two to term; if she reduced, the doctor said, she had a better chance of taking a baby home.
Really? Because I had three losses in a row and my doctor never once indicated a similar worry. Perhaps there’s more to this medically that this statement indicates.
With saying all this, I do have a confession to make. (I warned you my thoughts are all over the place). When the twins were newborns, I wondered if I made the right decision*. I mean it was hard – it IS hard – but it was about more than that. It was about their quality of life. Because there’s two of them and one of me, I didn’t take them out often (it would literally take an hour to get all of us out the door). Because there’s two of them and one of me, we don’t go to the park often. Because there’s two of them and one of me, they don’t get as much attention as they might get if it was one on one. I wondered if they would miss out on future experiences because I likely won’t be able to afford to pay for two to attend something where I might have been able to afford for one of them to. I talked about this with one of my friends who has one brother and he put it in perspective for me. He said that while they may not be able to do as many costly “things” as they could if there was only one, in his opinion the experience of growing up with a sibling outweighs that. And watching them now, days away from turning one, I get it. I love how Mel writes about her twins' connection and mine have it already. Sure, they fight over toys and the Dynamo sometimes pushes Sweet Potato away or down if he thinks he might get more attention, but their faces light up when they see each other. They laugh and squeal and chase and head-butt and kiss (eat?) and love and mimic each other. It's truly a joy to watch.
I know I sound judgy and a little hypocritical. I am torn about this topic in a way I likely would not be if my situation was different. While I always add the caveat I don’t think I could ever terminate, I am not against it. I am Pro-Choice. If you, as my friend, came to me in a situation where you thought you needed to reduce, for whatever reason, I would support you. And as Dora said, as callous as the women in the Times article sounded, we don’t know what their thought process was like, how many tears were shed, what quotes the writer didn’t use or were edited out.;
If I have learned anything from infertility and RPL it is not to question someone else's choices in family building. I'm not perfect at that but I continue to try to keep an open mind.
*I never once imagined one of THEM not being here as in one of my actual little boys. It was always an abstract thought – not an actual baby who came into this world and I met not being here. I could never imagine not having both of them in my life.