When One Is Enough

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2004
When One Is Enough
Wed, 07-21-2004 - 3:35pm
I posted this on a few other boards (sorry for being annoying...I just can't help myself:) ) Just wondering what people think. It was in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine. I am disturbed, disgusted and saddened by the story. You will see why.

When One Is Enough


Published: July 18, 2004

I grew up in a working-class family in Pennsylvania not knowing my father. I have never missed not having him. I firmly believe that, but for much of my life I felt that what I probably would have gained was economic security and with that societal security. Growing up with a single mother, I was always buying into the myth that I was going to be seduced in the back of a pickup truck and become pregnant when I was 16. I had friends when I was in school who were helping to rear nieces and nephews, because their siblings, who were not much older, were having babies. I had friends from all over the class spectrum: I saw the nieces and nephews on the one hand and country-club memberships and station wagons on the other. I felt I was in the middle. I had this fear: What would it take for me to just slip?

Now I'm 34. My boyfriend, Peter, and I have been together three years. I'm old enough to presume that I wasn't going to have an easy time becoming pregnant. I was tired of being on the pill, because it made me moody. Before I went off it, Peter and I talked about what would happen if I became pregnant, and we both agreed that we would have the child.

I found out I was having triplets when I went to my obstetrician. The doctor had just finished telling me I was going to have a low-risk pregnancy. She turned on the sonogram machine. There was a long pause, then she said, ''Are you sure you didn't take fertility drugs?'' I said, ''I'm positive.'' Peter and I were very shocked when she said there were three. ''You know, this changes everything,'' she said. ''You'll have to see a specialist.''

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?'' The obstetrician wasn't an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.

Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn't want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn't be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It's not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.

The specialist called me back at 10 p.m. I had just finished watching a Boston Pops concert at Symphony Hall. As everybody burst into applause, I watched my cellphone vibrating, grabbed it and ran into the lobby. He told me that he does a detailed sonogram before doing a selective reduction to see if one fetus appears to be struggling. The procedure involves a shot of potassium chloride to the heart of the fetus. There are a lot more complications when a woman carries multiples. And so, from the doctor's perspective, it's a matter of trying to save the woman this trauma. After I talked to the specialist, I told Peter, ''That's what I'm going to do.'' He replied, ''What we're going to do.'' He respected what I was going through, but at a certain point, he felt that this was a decision we were making. I agreed.

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can't believe we're about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, ''Can Peter stay?'' The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that.

Two days after the procedure, smells no longer set me off and I no longer wanted to eat nothing but sour-apple gum. I went on to have a pretty seamless pregnancy. But I had a recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me. Was I going to have a stillbirth or miscarry late in my pregnancy?

I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don't know.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Fri, 07-23-2004 - 9:42am
What can you say, but awful.

I think it will come back to haunt her at some point. Maybe years down the road. No where was there any mention of God's will, etc.




PJPIIadoration.jpg picture by Kimberly_sahm

Avatar for xms1csn
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-14-2003
Fri, 07-23-2004 - 4:19pm
I'm not sure if the financial aspect was the issue when I was growing up, perhaps on the father's end (the money maker) of course I'm sure, it was. I totally agree w/your post however. I have always believed that God is our Creator, of heaven & earth, of all living things. There's no way on earth that I would go against my wishes (or truths) in a marriage or with a family, in regards to my upbringing. I haven't discerned into your post about your thoughts re: your background, I'm just speaking from a Catholic viewpoint.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Sat, 07-24-2004 - 3:37am
This sort of thing is such a tragedy.
Avatar for missmollycoddle
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 07-28-2004 - 9:58am
This woman's story just breaks my heart. And no where did I see any mention of adoption for the 2 babies she didn't want to raise. Yes, she still would have had to be on bed rest, and yes, she would have missed her 2 months of speaking engagements, but honestly, as an adoptive parent, I am horrified that 2 precious lives were wiped out for "convenience". How sad is it, that some pregnant women want surgery in the womb to give their unborn babies a better chance at life, while others find it perfectly acceptable to throw away (presumably) healthy babies simply because they don't want them.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2003
Thu, 07-29-2004 - 6:16pm
What disturbs me about it the most is that the only thing she mentions causing this to be a higher-risk pregnancy is that it was multiples. In fact, she stated that before they found out that there were three, she was expected to have a low-risk pregnancy. Unless there was something wrong with the triplets, she should have been able to continue working through the pregnancy. While I was pregnant with my first child, one of my coworkers who was also pregnant found out that she was expecting triplets. She continued to work until about one month before her boys were born, and she was also unmarried.

The woman even stated in her article that she was sure she could have worked around the pregnancy, she just didn't want to. Her rationalizations were weak excuses so she wouldn't have to inconvienence herself.

If she had expressed any sort of strong concern for her health or the health of her babies, I would have been able to have some sympathy for her decision. I know from experience that that sort of fear can cause a person to do things that they would never consider when rational. But to do something like this for mere convienence is unexcusable.