As a follow-up to her husband’s shocking and depressing lament about the upcoming birth of their twins, “Mrs. Albert Garland” added her own version of the same sentiments to Babble.com last month. Her husband called the blessing of twins their “nightmare” in his side of the story, and the Mrs.’s feelings are no different.
Here’s the back story:
Mr. and Mrs. Garland have a three-and-a-half-year-old. They wanted one more child as a sibling for their son—no fewer and definitely no more. They had decided that they were to be a two-child family and that was set in stone; there would be no further discussion of the matter. Their concrete plan did not come to fruition as they had anticipated, however. The Garlands had trouble conceiving the second time around, and turned to IVF to make sure their required number of children would become a reality.
If you’re not paying really close attention to her story, you may miss the fact that Mrs. Garland’s aversion to having twins isn’t the fundamental problem. In fact, the fundamental problem reared its ugly head in this inconspicuous section of her account, where she describes the IVF process:
“The doctors had discussed two options we could take with IVF: either one strong embryo and one not-so-strong embryo would be implanted or two okay embryos would be implanted, with the hope that one would take. Knowing this, my husband and I agreed to transfer both embryos. But the day of transfer my doctor said: “Good news! You have one stellar embryo and one really good one.”
The fundamental problem? Regardless of which embryo(s) “took,” Mrs. Garland and her doctor were playing Russian roulette with her existing children. The embryos the doctor implanted in Mrs. Garland were the Garlands’ already-conceived offspring – there was nothing potential about their lives. Thus, as repulsive as Mr. and Mrs. Garland’s reaction towards the news of their having twins may sound, a closer look reveals that the problem started long before they unintentionally conceived twins. The problem started when doctors and parents began dictating which lives would and would not potentially “make the cut” in their IVF procedures.
This mentality, which views existing human beings as commodities to be calculated and chanced, has led to further abuses of parental responsibility. A person in Mrs. Garland’s position, who vehemently desired just one child could choose to have a “selective reduction” procedure carried out, which is a very insidious term used to refer to an abortion method that reduces the number of multiples in a pregnancy wherein only a certain number of children was desired, and more than the sought-after number of embryos unexpectedly “took.”
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Mr. Garland described his reaction to news of the twins: “To say we’re excited would be an exaggeration. More truthfully, we’re pissed.” Mrs. Garland feels the same way: “When I complain that this pregnancy feels extremely more difficult than my first one, I don’t want to hear another doctor say, Well it’s different — there are two. None of this makes me feel any better. Quite frankly, it just pisses me off.”
There you have it, folks: Two parents, blessed with double the gift that many parents would do anything just to have one of, and the Garlands are “pissed,” to use their words. They are angry that their plans didn’t come to fruition in the way that they wanted. They are angry that carrying twins is harder than carrying singletons. But most importantly, and most fundamentally: they are angry because one of their children did not die in the process of the IVF procedure that was supposed to ensure just one addition to their family. Where are we – as a medical community, as a parenting community, as a community of families – when the healthy gestation of two beautiful children is cause to be “pissed” simply because we only wanted one?