Friday, February 06, 2009

"45 Minutes X 8 Babies = 6 Hours" or "Not Enough Time In a Day For Octuplet Snuggling"

The mother of the octuplets recently stated in her first televised interview that "she holds each premature infant 45 minutes each day," and that she's sure that she'll be able to afford them when she's done with her schooling and she further states “I'm providing myself to my children. I'm loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally. Everything I do, I'll stop my life for them and be present with them. And hold them. And be with them. And how many parents do that? I'm sure there are many that do, but many don't. And that's unfortunate. That is selfish.”

That's all well and ernestly meant and well articulated, I'm sure, but where's the reality?

The reality is - a baby needs far more than 45 minutes of attention daily - and 8 babies need 8 times as much attention daily as one does. Premature babies eat frequently - sometimes as often as every two hours - and generally it takes at least 30 minute to give a bottle. Small babies are slow babies - and they can't hold much more than 2 or 3 ounces at a time. Add another half hour for burping, changing and cuddling and you've lost yourself an hour already. One person couldn't even, logistically speaking, manage to feed 8 premature infants every two hours. The most she could manage would be two of them and it would be time to restart with the first as soon as she finished with the second - ad infinitum.

"45 minutes of daily holding" for 8 children fills 6 entire hours. From personal experience, 45 minutes of holding isn't even 1/4 of the amount of holding time a new infant needs, wants or demands. Going back to school to complete your Master's Degree is a full time job, as well. So now we've filled at least 12 to 14 hours of a 24 hour day with personal snuggle time and schooling. What about breakfast, lunch and dinner for 15 people on a daily basis? And shopping for 15? And laundry for 15? And housecleaning? My God, just think about the housekeeping and laundry!!

Plus, believe it or not, even super-moms need to sleep sometimes. (Yep, really, it's a fact, they do.)

Mom says that as a child, she missed a “Feeling of self and identity." She goes on to state that, “I didn't feel as though, when I was a child, I had much control of my environment. I felt powerless. And that gave me a sense of predictability. Reflecting back on my childhood, I know it wasn't functional. It was pretty dysfunctional, and whose isn't?”

Please, for the love of God, someone tell this woman that having 14 children in 8 years is not a good way to regain "control," nor is it behaving like a functional adult. In fact, it's so out-of-control and dysfunctional as to be truly depressing.

Plus, as a side point, it totally disses her parents who, from all acounts, have stuck by her like white on rice. They've financially and emotionally and physically supported her, they've housed her and her children and they've loved her and helped her navigate every bizarre step of her adult way.

Personally, if you ask me, this woman has controlled everyone around her for her entire lifetime. Ask yourself this - would your parents have supported you, would they have allowed you to live in their house (or bought you your own house) while you continued going to school well into your thirties AND watched your 6 illigitimate children while you did so or would they exercise a little "parental control" of their own and finally say, "Honey, we love you, but enough is enough?" Even now, Grandma and Grandpa are dealing with the media frenzy as well as providing for the daily needs of the six forgotten siblings while mom herself rests up at an undisclosed "safe" location.

Would you do the same for your children?

As for mom missing a "feeling of identity and self" as the result of being an only child, does she really think it's going to be easier for her own individual children, growing up with thirteen siblings and an overextended mother, to find either one those things for themselves? Does she even understand that they are as entitled to those things as she feels she is and that, as a single parent, it's now up to her and her alone to provide it not only for herself but for them, as well?

But that's assuming that, like most parents. she wants a better life for her children than she had herself and that she's willing and able to put the current and future needs of her children before her own.

From what I've read so far I don't think that's a safe assumption to make right now.

Add: From AP: Among other things, the documents reveal that Suleman collected more than $165,000 in disability payments between 2002 and 2008 for an injury she said left her in near-constant pain and helped end her marriage.

Well now don't that beat all? $27,000 a year in disability payments for a back injury and still capable of carrying roughly 1 pregnancy per year (not counting the octupulets in 2008 - which more than doubles the average pregnancy per year) to completion and no one questioned the true extent of the " near-constant and excruciating pain?"

I've been pregnant and I've had a back injury. Fortunately not at the same time. And I say fortunately because as anyone who's ever had either condition can attest to - they're just not compatible - nor would anyone but a total masochist attempt it more than once or twice. Were I her disability carrier I'd be looking into it. If your back can handle carrying a minimum of an extra 40 or 50 pounds of pregnancy around on a yearly basis I'm pretty sure it can handle a desk job without too much difficulty.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering who paid for the infertility doctor for the unemployed mother of 6 or did he take it on retainer as her accomplice in this hair brained idea knowing that she would get money out of it. I think he needs to be checked out seriously.

Lo said...

Yes, I agree that it needs to be looked into.

I would think that there should be some sort of "checks and balance" system when it comes to embryo implanting.

Even transplants have criteria which must be met before a person is allowed on a waiting list.

Some people are just not good candidates for various reasons and yes, someone else gets to decide who they are.

From all accounts even the fertility specialists are horrified.

Vu said...

As a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist ( Fertility Specialist ) at the Xpert Fertility Care of California, I always followed the guideline set by American Society of Reproductive Medicine: never put back more than 2 embryos fro a "fertile" woman under 35 year of age.
Recently, with the advance of fertility medication, we even restrict ourselves to only one embryo at a time.

I can't speak for the circumstance behind the decision to put back so many embryos in this case.
Among colleagues, the management of this doctor is considered not a standard of care, exposing the patient to unnecessary deadly risks, and possible long term disability suffered by the children.

Minh N. Ho, M.D.
Xpert Fertility Care

Lo said...

Thank you, Dr. Ho.

There are so many questions out there, aren't there? As well as so much "misinformation," I'm sure.

Truthfully, I know next to nothing of what's available to infertile women and for some reason I've always "assumed" that there was some kind of emotional testing as well as physical testing which took place before a physician agreed to treat a patient.

It seems that merely "wanting" something shouldn't be enough to assure that you'll get it.

In-vitro fertilization is elective surgery and like all elective surgeries, I assumed that there was medical supervision throughout the process and it was not considered a patient's "right" to dictate treatment.

For instance, I had plastic surgery a few years ago - and my surgeon did an extensive psych work-up before accepting me as a patient. There had to be the right reasons for wanting it, reasonable anticipated expectations, the ability and the willingness to follow directions both before the surgery and during the recovery period and, of course, the cash to pay for it all.

If you're still here, Dr. Ho, I'd be curious to know if most doctors would continue to provide fertility treatments to a patient who already had 6 children and if so, why wouldn't the mere fact that a woman had already had 6 children in 5 years, (which has to be stressful on the uterus - even women who get pregnant without medical intervention are counseled to space pregnancies at least 18 months to two years apart) be viewed with some small amount of trepidation?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but not only are multiple fetuses a danger to a mother's health but so are closely spaced multiple pregnancies, are they not?

Whatever happened to "first do no harm?"

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I really liked your post.

Re: her lacking a "feeling of self and identity" in her childhood. An only child (I am one too) has TONS of self and identity. They have the power in the family and they control the environment. No siblings to share toys or a room with. They can't get lost in a sea of kids at home because they're the only one!!! It is she who is taking away the "self and identity" of her children because they will struggle to differentiate themselves in a litter of 14. I find it incredibly ironic that she will make her poor kids suffer through what she allegedly experienced.