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Reducing Twins

Posted: October 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Twins | Tags: infertility, NYT article, Reducing a twin pregnancy, Twins | 36 Comments »

It’s been about three and a half years since we found out we were having twins.

It was probably the biggest surprise of my entire life. Well, of course it was. We were just going to have *a* baby and see how it went. We weren’t even committed to having a second at that point. We were testing the parenthood waters. Twins didn’t run in either family, hell, it never even occurred to me that it might be an option. Twins happened to other people. We were renting a 2-bedroom duplex and had lots of student loan debt.

We were totally unprepared for two babies to appear on that screen.

Lots of things ran through our minds and came out of our mouths that day: Where will they sleep? How will we pay for this? Will I have to quit my job? We’re going to have to move! OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!

You know what didn’t cross our minds?

Reducing down to one baby.

I mean the plan was to have ONE baby. We were comfortable with one baby. One baby is an easy dream compared to two babies…right? Twins was going to be hard! I wanted to breastfeed! I wanted to baby-wear! I wanted to carry on with life as usual. With a baby.

So color me shocked when I read the New York Times article about how women undergoing fertility treatments who wind up with twins are choosing to reduce them down to one.

I don’t get it.

These women are trying harder than most people to have a baby. They are using methods that have much higher rates of ending up with multiples and then when they do (surprise surprise), they are just picking one (or letting the doctor pick) and getting rid of it.

Because they don’t want a huge lifestyle change.
Because twins are difficult.
Because two children are a financial burden.

These are the risks of making babies. Why is this even an option?!

Because they are already using science to get pregnant, they look at it like one more choice on the menu, like they are putting in their order at a diner. Would you like the IVF? Yes. One child or two? One. Boy or girl? I already have a son so we’ll keep the girl.

These same women talk about how if it had been a natural pregnancy they wouldn’t consider a reduction.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

Natural or not, these are PLANNED pregnancies.

I am pro-choice so I am not sure why I am struggling so much with this. I don’t even struggle with it if it’s reducing higher order multiples (but that is another can of worms).

Actually, I do know why I struggle with this. I am pro-choice, not pro-abortion. I think abortion should be safe, legal and rare. I think it should be available in situations such as rape or incest or where a pregnancy will cause harm to the mother.

These women are choosing to become mothers. They are doing it with science. They are making the choice to reduce so they are not inconvenienced by juggling two. One of the doctors tries to comfort his patents by playing up all the things that can go wrong with twins and a twin pregnancy.

That in itself makes my head spin. There is nothing you can say that makes it OK. If these women feel better knowing they may have dodged some disability….well, I can’t imagine getting rid of a pregnancy because there was the chance of a disability.

The women in this article obviously know they made a really shitty choice. If they felt it was an acceptable choice I think they would own it. Only one woman was named in the article. Some of them didn’t even tell their own OBs.

I try to imagine what that conversation would be like.

“We were having twins but you know, we really want to get into that lake house and twins would just eat up the budget so we decided to reduce….”

or maybe this

“I know we’ve been trying forever to conceive but when two popped up on the screen it was like WHOA! We already have two kids and since my husband works so many hours I just can’t imagine wrangling 4 kids including 2 infants so we decided reducing was the best option.”

Yeah…I can’t really come up with anything in my head that sounds reasonable. It’s probably a good thing that they keep this little secret under their hats.

The worst part of the article though was the Dad who let the mom make the decision because she was going to be the main care provider. Seriously? Just because your wife is going to be doing most of the work you don’t feel like you have a say in whether or not she gets rid of one of your children? WTF?

I suppose in the end, these women get to carry around this secret shame.. I really hope it’s worth it to them.

And one day, when one of their friends calls them up and excitedly tells them she is having twins, instead of being able to offer excellent twin mom advice, they can smile and be comforted knowing that because they chose to go with one baby they will always have nicer stuff.

Because it’s all about the handbags and the shoes and the weekend getaways.

I can’t imagine anyone would be appalled

***ETA This is talking about *healthy* pregnancies and *healthy* babies. I would never judge a parents decision based on some anomaly or defect that would cause a severe reduction in quality of life. That is something each parent needs to make on their own and that deserves it’s own post somewhere down the line. For me personally it would not have made a difference as it would still be my child- I can’t imagine life without my boys- disabilities and all.

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36 Comments on “Reducing Twins”

  1. 1 Lori said at 8:49 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    Holy shit. I hadn't heard of this. Who in their right mind would do something like that?
    My recent post Natural Cleaning Products Suck

  2. 2 erinclot said at 9:16 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I'd only heard of it for higher order multiples, which is a completely different ballgame. Never 2 to 1 though. And the fact that almost all of them said they wouldn't do it if it was natural….why the disconnect? You would make it work if this happened spontaneously but because it was created through science it's no big deal? SICK!

  3. 3 africa18 said at 8:51 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    sick and disgusting!!!!!!!! I would give anything to have a child and will likely end up going thru the same process they are KNOWING that could result in multiples!! who give them the right to play God and choose who lives and who dies???
    My recent post Day 24 – A letter to your parents

  4. 4 erinclot said at 9:15 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I just can't wrap my head around it. Don't play with fire!

  5. 5 Melissa Kaye said at 9:03 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    *Sigh* It makes me sad. Like you I am prochoice, but this just makes me sad. As sad as when I hear about people aborting a baby because they have a medical condition. Both of these things apply to our family. We have beautiful twin girls….found out at 20 weeks. Then when the were born at 38 weeks, we found out that one of them had a medical condition that will require lifelong treatment and the possibility of dozens of surgeries. When I hear about people aborting their baby because of a disability or medical condition I throw up in my mouth a little. Now to read this….makes me thankful for my sassy little girls whom, with their older brother, have made me the strong woman I am today.

    I don't know that people can comprehend the joys that come with difficult situations…..the love of 2 babies instead of 1….the pride when you see your child with a medical condition doing something spectacular….the joy that their hugs bring you, sick or healthy, from 1, 2 or 3 at a time. It's the "I don't know how you do it" syndrome. We do it because we're they're our babies and we're their mommies.

    Sorry for the epic long comment….apparently it all hit a nerve. 🙂
    My recent post A Very Proud Mama

  6. 6 erinclot said at 9:13 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I totally understand this. If someone would have told me there was a good chance my boys would both be diagnosed with Autism when I was pregnant it never would have mattered. I didn't even have all the tests they offer early on because it wouldn't have made a difference, I wasn't going to end the pregnancy, so there was no need to know.

    I look at my boys today and I think "what if you weren't here?" It's so CRAZY! I mean, I know I threatened to sell them to the Gypsies when they did nothing but cry those first few months but seriously, I can't imagine life without them. And growing pains aside, it's not that bad, we did plan to have another one as soon as possible. You adapt, things have a way of working out. These couples aren't even giving it a chance.

  7. 7 Melissa Kaye said at 9:23 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I'm in the process of reading the article and what gets me is that these women pay massive amounts of money to have these medical procedures done so they can have a baby and then they can't afford twins? Or they won't have enough love for twins? That has NEVER been a problem for me….all my kids get the same amount of love and when the girls were born the amount of love I had for Peder did not diminish one bit. These people are having the gut terror that all of us have when we find out we are having twins (I cried for like 7 seconds, then laughed for the next several hours….seriously it was too hilarious to me), but they don't give themselves the chance to get to acceptance, then excitement, then love.
    My recent post A Very Proud Mama

  8. 8 erinclot said at 9:46 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I don't know that they all paid- some insurance covers it now. That was my first thought though. And not enough love and attention? Are you kidding me? Those things just seem to multiply all on their own when those babies are born, it's like some magic compartment opens up and everything you need just floods out. I get being scared, but you get over it. And I totally laughed once we calmed down. It was unreal!

  9. 9 jenna said at 11:58 pm on October 31st, 2011:

    Before leaving my comment, I didn't read this one. I didn't know insurance covers IVF now. The story I heard on the radio was over a year ago. I still think we could take a tip from across the pond and maybe implant one embryo at a time though.

  10. 10 motherwifeteacher said at 9:07 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    Yep. Pure, unadulterated selfishness.

    You don't get to pick what you're handed when you choose to have children. I didn't choose to have a baby with a severe congenital heart defect, but I got one anyway. I was given the option to terminate him when his diagnosis was given, and my response was NO. Absolutely not. You know what? I have NEVER regretted that decision, even though I knew that it would mean a lot of hardship. He was my child and I wasn't going to get rid of him because I would have to do something hard.

    How do those women sleep at night, knowing they killed their perfectly healthy baby because they wouldn't "fit" their lifestyle?? Children aren't accessories. They aren't puppies.

  11. 11 erinclot said at 9:30 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    And what makes them think that they are dodging any bullets by reducing? Your child could still have some disability, they could still die from some horrible disease…you just don't know. There are no guarantees. I don't understand why there is even this option. I have no idea what it's like to go through fertility issues, but I think it's pretty clear what the risks are. If you are willing to roll the dice, you need to be willing to deal with the outcome.

  12. 12 Darcy Jane said at 9:21 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    There's a good chance that if we want to have kids (which we do) we will need the help of fertility drugs. . .. I would never even consider reducing a twin pregnancy. I think reducing high order multiples is more responsible than being Octomom, but reducing twins is insane. (We haven't come up with the "magic number" if we ever do have to make that decision. But that is a definitely a conversation we will have before undergoing any fertility treatments!) I don't understand people.

  13. 13 erinclot said at 9:43 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I think most fertility doctors strive to keep it to 1 or 2 at most, I think that is recognized as the responsible thing to do simply because there is so much stress on moms and babies with higher order multiples. I think fertility treatments are wonderful for people who need them, I just really have a hard time with going through all of *that* and then saying two is too many. ESPECIALLY if they wouldn't have reduced had they been conceived naturally.

  14. 14 Ashley Poland said at 9:28 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I don't intend to argue — and I certainly understand where you have high emotional stakes in this, which I can't relate to — but I tentatively disagree with your assessment that it's about handbags and other material goods. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't get that impression from the article. Honestly, I was more bothered by the compromise story, with this line: His wife was relieved that her husband remained in the waiting room; she, too, didn’t want to deal with his feelings. I can't imagine not dealing with my husband's feelings regarding our child.

    I have the same feelings about this that I do about a standard abortion — from a pro-choice stance, in that it should absolutely be an option and it should be safe, but it's not a choice that I can imagine making for my body, and especially not in a selective way.
    My recent post NaNoWriMo Prep Post #2: All About Writing Software

  15. 15 erinclot said at 9:57 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I'm sure it wasn't about handbags or material goods, but choosing to reduce so you don't compromise your lifestyle…don't all parents have to compromise their lifestyle when kids are born? It's part of being a parent. Kids change things. I think every mom of multiples I know went through some sort of period where they questioned all of those things- how can we afford it, what about the other kids? What about my job/ our house/ how will we afford daycare? Most of them get over it and figure it out. Your life changes in that instant and you adapt.

    The compromise story was the one that got me the most too. I know it's just a snippit of their life but that doesn't read like a couple that is in it for the long haul of raising a family together. I might be the SAHM, but my husband is still the dad and you can bet he has a say in everything involves our kids.

    I think the selection part and the fact that it's not for any "necessary" reason and the fact that this was not a surprise/ oops pregnancy- this is something that is sought out AND the fact that many (most?) of them said they wouldn't reduce if it had been natural are what make this hard for me. If you can make it work if it was spontaneous, you can make it work this way too.

  16. 16 Ashley Poland said at 9:51 pm on October 30th, 2011:

    I agree that it seems ass-backwards to go into an IVF pregnancy more willing to terminate than naturally — wasteful even — but I can also kind of see the logic. One of the books I read when I was pregnant was written by a mother whose first pregnancy was IVF, and she talks about how nothing from start to finish felt natural. I can see how that mindset — we did this, this is our doing — could lead to it feeling less morally hinky to choose to terminate one fetus.
    My recent post Amended Opinion: yWriter

  17. 17 Evelyn @ Haute Milk said at 10:12 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    My mind is boggled. How does one even be able to make that choice? Let's just say I'm glad it wasn't mine to make. I'm also pro-choice, and atheist, and this smells hinkey to me. I don't like it. However, who am I to say that if you get pregnant with twins (after ivf) you HAVE to have them both. I'm just going to liken this to free speech, in that people have the right to say things you find disgusting. It's awful, but it's their right.

    BTW if the universe had gifted me with a quad pregnancy we decided that the baby with the shortest pinky toe on the left foot was the one we would put up for adoption. This was highly unlikely to happen, but we had a plan!
    My recent post How do you keep your family from sneaking your child food?

  18. 18 erinclot said at 8:08 am on October 28th, 2011:

    I think this is why it's leaving such a bad taste in my mouth. I am all for choice. I have been pro-choice, well, for as long as I can remember. This doesn't fit into my pro-choice box though. Your example is perfect. It just feels icky and I am having a hard time being OK with it.

  19. 19 Cj said at 10:38 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    There was a couple who used IVF and FINALLY got pregnant with twins. One was diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero and they chose to selectively abort. THE DOCTOR ABORTED THE WRONG TWIN!!! So they just aborted both. People like that don’t deserve kids.
    Cj recently posted..It’s All (Un) RelativeMy Profile

  20. 20 erinclot said at 8:05 am on October 28th, 2011:

    I don't know how I could live with myself. I understand some people will make decisions based on the health and quality of life of a baby due to an already known severe disability. I get that. I won't judge a person on that. But a perfectly healthy baby? I just can't wrap my mind around it.

  21. 21 N. Nicholes said at 10:40 pm on October 27th, 2011:

    I don't think that I can manage anything other than wow. Seriously. I have to come back to this later. But wow….
    My recent post Social Rev Up Meet-Up

  22. 22 erinclot said at 8:09 am on October 28th, 2011:

    Come back and share when you can wrap your head around this!

  23. 23 clot77 said at 5:21 am on October 28th, 2011:

    I can't comprehend this. I loved out two for one pregnancy. I can't imagine what it would have been like with just Lincoln or just Wyatt.

  24. 24 erinclot said at 8:02 am on October 28th, 2011:

    I wouldn't say I loved the *pregnancy*- but yes- well worth every horrible minute of it. My Momnesia is quite good that I can forget (at least enough to attempt it again).

  25. 25 Jenn said at 8:33 am on October 28th, 2011:

    You say that you could never imagine getting rid of a pregnancy to avoid a disability, so being someone with a disability who is dealing with infertility and the chance of passing along a disease to my children, I can't help myself but comment. Our doctors have told us having a child with the disease is a 50/50 shot, and we have the opportunity to do testing at 10-12 weeks pregnant, to determine whether the child has the disease and if we want to medically terminate or not.

    The thought of having to make that decision? It KILLS me. I sit and cry about it now, and I'm nowhere near pregnant yet. But that's a situation that I have to face, given the situation.

    But if ended up being pregnant with twins, and both were healthy? I would thank the heavens and be ecstatic. I couldn't bear the idea of terminating one of them because "I couldn't handle it". That's crap.
    My recent post It’s Just the Way You Are (paraplegic)

  26. 26 erinclot said at 1:17 pm on October 28th, 2011:

    Hi Jenn, I thought I had replied to your comment earlier and it looks like it didn't go through. I put an edit at the end of my post clarifying my position a bit.

    I absolutely wouldn't judge a parent for having to make a decision surrounding a disability. I couldn't do it, but I can understand being in the position (or maybe not because I'm not…I'd empathize?) and I am sure it's very stressful and heartbreaking. Regardless, that is not the case with these pregnancies, which I think further muddles it. These are healthy wanted pregnancies. These are healthy babies. There is no other reason to reduce other than "it's easier with one". I just can't stand behind that.

    I do hope that you never have to worry a minute about this. I hope your tests all come back with great results and you can enjoy the magic of being pregnant one day, without the worry. Maybe one day you'll have 2 shadows dancing across the monitor- it happens when you least expect it!

  27. 27 Heidi said at 8:40 am on October 28th, 2011:

    It’s not something that I could do but I can’t really judge these families given the economic times we are in.

  28. 28 erinclot said at 8:55 am on October 28th, 2011:

    When my twins were born in November of 2008 I got to sit and watch the economy collapse on CNN for 12 weeks and then pray my job wasn't cut while I was on leave. Economy aside, you figure it out. Since then- when it seemed absolutely impossible- we've added another child and dropped 30% of our income when I started staying home. We aren't doing without by any means and we are making ends meet- even with an increase in expenses. You make it work. If you go into something like fertility treatments (whichever ones you choose) you are playing with fire and you need to be able to handle the risk.

  29. 29 Mandie said at 9:17 am on October 28th, 2011:

    Before I became a mom this wouldn't have bothered me at all. Now, being a mom and knowing how amazing children are and how amazing being a mom is….this makes me mad and sad and I don't understand it.

  30. 30 steph said at 1:12 pm on October 28th, 2011:

    good post. very very sad that this is allowed or even considered. I can't even get started on how much this makes me ill.
    My recent post Mega Swagbucks day + 5 for 5 promo

  31. 31 Bonnie said at 4:05 pm on October 30th, 2011:

    You're right, I don't understand in the slightest, either. Don't you think you'd look at that singleton for his or her whole life, and wonder what the child next to him/her would have been like?
    My recent post The Ten Commandments for Parents of Kids with Special Needs

  32. 32 Jenna said at 11:53 pm on October 31st, 2011:

    You know, I heard something on the radio a while back about IVF in the US vs. IVF in the UK. They were talking about how in the UK it is covered under insurance, and they only implant one embryo at a time, so they don't end up with multiple births. They said in the US it isn't covered by insurance. That's usually why they implant multiple embryos. I'm not sure I really have an opinion on this matter, but I think a solution to this problem might be having IVF covered by insurance so people can implant only one embryo at a time, even if it takes a few times to work.

  33. 33 erinclot said at 12:03 am on November 1st, 2011:

    I don't think it's always because of two embryos or two eggs- sometimes it's just how things happen. I think most docs will do one or two because they don't want 5 or 6, but some parent, especially if they haven't had a lot of luck want to hedge their bets. I think when you do that you need to be prepared for the possible outcomes.

  34. 34 kate said at 9:49 am on November 3rd, 2011:

    I have a really difficult time with this article. Having undergone IVF myself, we knew that having triplets (even if they only put back two embryos) was real possibility, due to increase possibility of eggs splitting due to the IVF. A friend of mine had a tragic experience both with her pregnancy of triplets, and the eventual loss of one of the babies at 28 weeks. My husband and i decided that if triplets happened, we would reduce to twins. When we found out we were pregnant with twins, i was simply in shock. We had to pay for in vitro 100% out of pocket, which amounted to about 20,000 total. We put every drop of our savings (plus additional credit card payments) to have babies, and now we are faced with paying for twin day care. How dare you judge others for making the decision that is right for them and their families after possibly going broke just to have a baby… clearly you have not dealt with infertility in your reproductive life, and have no concept of the pain and challenges it leaves the couple feeling (nor the desperation with which they suffer trying just to get a positive pregnancy test). Often times, patients are nearly removed from the option of choosing whether to put back two embryos or one, because of the number of healthy embryos they have. We would have only put one back,but only had 3 viable embryos the day before (and only two the day of) transfer but then may not have been able to freeze the second and would have to go through the entire heartbreaking process again if we decided we wanted another child. In vitro is not an extravagent way for rich people to have kids. It's the only solution for many people (including quite young couples, like my husband and I) to do what you've done three times thanks to nature. I'm now thrilled to be having twins, but your ability to judge others (along with your commenters) without having been in those people's specific shoes is just sad.

  35. 35 erinclot said at 4:24 pm on November 4th, 2011:

    I'm not quite sure understand here. If you had been pregnant with triplets through IVF you would have reduced to twins…so by that statement I assume twins were doable. You are right, I have never had to undergo any fertility treatments. That said, I think if raising more than one was going to be an issue I wouldn't "go broke" on fertility treatments that have a high likelihood of producing multiples. That is playing with fire. I think you need to accept the consequences when you start down that path.

    Many women- myself include, are faced with the questions and the uncertainty that a multiple pregnancy brings. Like I said at the top of my post- we were going to have one child. The thought of twins didn't even cross our minds. The first words out of my husbands mouth were "You're going to have to quite your job!" Things get a little crazy when your world is turned upside down. We're not swimming in money- we're barely making ends meet, but you figure it out.

    I never said in vitro was an extravagant way for rich people to have kids- I never even alluded to that, so I'm not sure where you are getting that. I think any couple- rich, poor, young, old, whether their insurance pays for the procedure or they are going broke to pull out all the stops to get pregnant should stop treating pregnancy like a menu. Sometimes like throws you a curve ball- be happy with what you have!

  36. 36 Becky Worthman said at 10:41 am on January 25th, 2012:

    wait, whaT?! Reducing? as in aborting one baby? I just can't imagine! I am a twin–so glad my mom wouldn't do this!

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