When toddlers attack

Thursday, November 24, 2011

That Thing No One Likes to Talk About

And then there were two.

Our surrogate had the selective reduction yesterday. We got the news this morning, and, truth be told, we're both very glad it's out of the way, hoping the procedure wasn't frightening or painful for the sweet, cheerful-looking woman who's carrying our children.  The email from SCI says she's doing fine, and so are our twins.

Both of us are firmly in support of a woman's right to choose what she does with her body -- and hey, in spite of what some opponents of surrogacy would say, isn't choosing to become a surrogate another expression of that freedom?

I've read about couples feeling a sense of loss after the procedure.  Nope, not here. While the shots of KCL stopped two heartbeats, I don't feel they were quite human yet -- soon, too uncomfortably soon to feel nothing, but not yet people.  Since we found out we were pregnant, we've never thought of ourselves as having four... just two.  According to this 2007 article from the Washington Post (which is great article if you want all the gory details):

Selective reduction is one of the most unpleasant facts of fertility medicine, which has helped hundreds of thousands of couples have children but has also produced a sharp rise in high-risk multiple pregnancies. There is no way to know how many pregnancies achieved by fertility treatment start out as triplets or quadruplets and are quietly reduced to something more manageable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes an annual report on fertility clinic outcomes, does not include selective-reduction figures because of the reluctance to report them.

 We understand there was never any real possibility of bringing four babies to term.  It radically increases the risk to both surrogate and baby:

Triplets pregnancies are far riskier than most people realize: Carrying three babies to term would more than double the woman's risk of developing the most severe diseases of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia. The average triplet is born two months premature, significantly raising the risk of disabilities such as cerebral palsy and of lifelong damage to the infant's lungs, eyes, brain and other organs. By reducing the pregnancy to twins, the woman and her husband would decrease the risk of severe prematurity. And the risk of losing her entire pregnancy would fall from 15 percent to 4 percent.
 We wouldn't have the resources to raise four children, anyway.  And while they're beginning to take on a human form, they're still more potential than human, the size of a lima bean.  At this stage, they look more like these things than a baby:
A potato bug...
...an alien...
...or la Duquesa de Alba.

Alive, but human? 

And yet... there's the profound awareness of having passed one of those points where fate pivots:  you will be this, not that.  This one survives, that one doesn't.  What just happened will affect the rest of our lives in every way.

I'm still waiting for a full report, so I'm not sure why the two eliminated embryos were chosen.  For now, I'm assuming all were healthy and normal and that the procedure targeted the two easiest to reach .   So I keep thinking... if that nearly random needle had chosen another, who would they have become?  What was lost? And what will we tell our kids if they ever ask "what, you mean it could have been me?"

Well, yes.  It could have.  But we all only exist because of a lucky string of accidents... my mom's family left Europe in the 1880s rather than stick around for the Holocaust... my dad's family were lucky enough not to starve those first few winters in 17th century New England... I wasn't flattened by a truck crossing Wilshire Boulevard last year.

It's all luck, all where the ball on the roulette wheel stops.

But I do know the most important thing I'll tell our children:  "we got exactly the kids we were meant to have."


  1. That's right, it's all meant to be.
    Your children will be so loved.
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    Mark, Frederic and Co.

  2. Hoping for smooth sailing for the duration of your pregnancy. SR is unfortunate and it will stay with you (on some level) well beyond the arrival of your twins. I wish it weren't necessary but it is an unfortunate reality of too much success.

  3. I'm glad that it all went well and that your babies and surrogate are doing ok. Tough to have to go through this but glad it's been behind you. Loved the very thoughtful, and a little humorous, post.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you two!

  4. Thank you for this posting. Even though we may know what the right decision is that still doesn't make it easy. I think you're right to make sure that you, your future children and the surrogate are safe and healthy. Now let's keep watching these amazing twins grow and celebrate them!

  5. Wishing you all the best for your twins. Difficult process for all involved but the right way forward.

    Take care.

  6. I love your last remark "we got exactly the kids we were meant to have." I sometimes think of our one triplet that didn't progress, the embryos that didn't "take" and those that we'll never transfer... but then I look at our four and know they're everything our family was destined to be.

  7. Children always provoke our tender emotions, but when there are twins, the happiness is also doubled. Thanks to the surrogacy the probability of birth of twins is much bigger. It is so amazing when twins are born, because since the very birth they have already the best friend. Let you babies be healthy and sound!