Dad Angry that Wife Is Expecting IVF Twins

Dawn Davenport


Dad disappointed that his wife is expecting IVF twinsSometimes I read an article that really gets under my skin. Often I have to sit on it (no, more like stew on it) for a while before I can see straight. Sometimes it takes a while before I truly understand what’s really bothering me. And sometimes, the issue is just so big and the untangling and figuring out so hard, that I don’t even try. But sometimes my thoughts about the darn (read: damn) article keep resurfacing, and I know that I’ve got to dig until I find the root of my distress. Such was the case two weeks ago when I read an article in the Huffington Post titled “My Wife Is Expecting Twins and I Am Not Happy About It“.

The couple in the article, who thankfully chose to remain anonymous, were pushing 40 with one son, and wanting a second child. After several intrauterine inseminations (IUIs, also known as artificial inseminations) they turned to IVF. The wife encouraged the doctor to transfer two embryos “to stack the deck”, and they are now expecting twin boys. They wanted for one girl.

To say we’re excited would be an exaggeration. More truthfully, we’re pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful. Why regretful? Because we brought this on ourselves. This is what we wanted, so to speak. …

This time around, we’re counting down — not like expecting parents but like cancer patients with only months to live. Enjoy life while you can, for soon it’s double the diapers, double the feedings. Half of zero sleep is … less than zero? …

With four months left to go, I’m not sure what stage we’re in at the moment — but it’s not acceptance. My wife and I even both privately admitted that we don’t like the new children, which is of course insane. Excited? We’re not there yet. Terrified? Yes, when we’re not practicing denial.

Of course, I was sad for the babies this couple was carrying, but truthfully, and I realize this is not a popular sentiment, I also felt some sympathy for the parents. I understand the author’s initial response and fear at the prospect of raising twins. I can’t say I understand his need to publish this fear in a national publication, but the basis of the fear, I get. I also understand his disappointment at hoping for a girl and ending up with twin boys. The desire to have children is inherently selfish, at least in part, and most of us enter with hopes on number and gender. Momentary disappointment is not uncommon. Again, not sure why he wants to share this disappointment with the world, but still I get it. So why did this essay render me unable to write for two weeks?

What Really Bugs Me

After pondering and reading the very thoughtful discussion about this article in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group, I finally figured out that what was really bugging me was the author’s callous disregard prior to conception with the sanctity of what he and his wife were doing. IVF is all about the creation of life, and nothing about life creation should be entered into lightly. It should require deliberation and respect, the opposite of the tone of this article.

If I’m being truly honest, what really bothers me, other than concern for his sons, is that this article and his attitude plays into the hands of those who feel like all infertility treatment is callously playing at creating life and trying to create the perfect child and the perfect family. From where I sit, nothing could be further from the truth. Most people who are undegoinging fertility treatment are not trying for the perfect number or perfect gender or perfect child. They’d be very happy, thank you very much, with any child.

Why I Like This Article

Now here’s the really hypocritical part—while I think this this article in a major national publication is a classic example of our national love affair with over-sharing writ large, I am thankful that the author chose to share his anger and fear. I can’ help but hope that this article will serve as a cautionary tale when people are trying to decide how many embryos to transfer. Stacking the deck with two embryos can and often will result in two babies. Twins are very very often born premature, and more often than people want to think they are born with significant health issues. (The fact that the author didn’t once express concern for the health of his twins made it really hard for me to feel much sympathy.) I want people to carefully consider this possibility BEFORE they become pregnant and feel tempted to write an article such as this.

OK, now that I’ve got that off my chest, what do you think? Is this guy just a complete selfish jerk or do you have some sympathy?


Image credit:  suomis

28/05/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 42 Comments

42 Responses to Dad Angry that Wife Is Expecting IVF Twins

  1. Avatar Ashley McMahon says:

    Hope the parents get therapy… to work through this… because the children will feel the resentment.. and they are the innocent ones!

  2. Avatar Leah Welsh Lowe says:

    He has no soul if he doesn’t fall madly in love with those boys when they get here.

  3. Avatar Barbara Ingalsbe says:

    yep, Trauma in the making… sad for the new babies… they should really consider placing them for adoption.. it doesn’t sound like they are bonding with the new children but resent them with a passion.

  4. Avatar Barbara Ingalsbe says:

    Sad when the twins were PLANNED! The dad doesn’t sound like he’s got it all together… He can move to a bigger place, he can SAVE coupons shop twin sales and yard sales… second hand stores for clothes and such. Barring all that…. he and his wife can place the twins for adoption… I am SURE there would be LINES for TWINS!

  5. Avatar Becky Baker Lewis says:

    Well…my opinion is that he is completely selfish. It is all about what he wants….what he didn’t get….and that he is mad about it….I have no sympathy for him….just for the kids….

  6. Avatar TinaP says:

    I don’t think it is courageous for this guy to write about how he’s feeling. I think it is selfish. People make choices and must suffer the consequences of those choices. You don’t sit and whine about a result that I am certain their doctor warned them was a possibility. Courage is not writing an anonymous rant about a situation that you brought about yourself. Courage is taking this unexpected situation and turning it into something positive.

  7. Avatar rene howitt says:

    Parenting is still taken way to lightly in this country. In this case these folks knew what they were in for as they already had a child. They still have four months to get a grip and accept the fact that life as they know it will change drastically for many years. They have four months to seek education and skills in preparation. Or they can spend the next four months in dread.

    We have very serious problems with our families, more specifically the parents. We should be recruiting our school systems to help educate all students on the responsibility of parenting. Family Consumer Science (FACS) teachers are trained and can offer parenting and child development classes to all of our students. There is no place in parenting for selfishness. If your not willing to give up sleep and your free time…no one is forcing us into parenting.

    If this couple chooses to, they can and will grow up. It’s their choice. These babies and their older son deserve this.

  8. Avatar Ann says:

    I’m sad for all of them… As a married couple trying to have more children I can’t imagine the topic of multiples wouldn’t come up…. even after implanting two embryos they as shocked?
    99% of us on this site would jump at the chance to parent twins, no matter how they came to us, so the behavior of this couple seems so strange. I think they had an idea of what their lives/family would look like with their “2” children and when it changed and they had no control of it they panicked. I pray their children are healthy (cuz that would be a whole nother page!) and I hope when this scared couple sees their beautiful children’s faces all their fears evaporate and the love of a parent kick in!!!

  9. Avatar Bell Jar says:

    I hope the parents get some help. The range and strength of human emotions escapes me. To have suffered infertility, and then to have a successful pregnancy is like the ultimate dream. To say that you wanted one and got two and so ‘boo boo, I hate it’ is vulgar. Although I do acknowledge how much courage it would have taken for him to admit this because I know that what he said would make him grossly unpopular, but still I do not vouch for what he feels.

  10. Not spoken of much but I’m also terribly sad for and concerned about the son already in the home. He’s watching this, absorbing it, and taking it all in. And we ALL know that little ones always internalize this kind of tension and disruption and difficulty in traumatic ways. That poor little boy, about to become a big brother, is having his whole perspective about life, family building, parenthood, birth, and so much more! skewed and poisoned by the atmosphere in the home, I fear. I agree with the majority of the posters – put your big boy pants on and deal with it. Life is too short and time is too precious. Rant, vent, whatever but do it out of the sight of your son and find a way to deal. Those three little boys deserve nothing less than your best effort at greatness.

  11. Avatar Maire says:

    This is why Catholics oppose IVF. People weren’t created to know how to play God, as is apparent by this man’s ungodly rant.

  12. Avatar Melissa Siebenthal says:

    I have not gone through fertility treatments, but my first child died in her sleep at 1 year of age, and then I experienced two miscarriages. Thankfully, I am 24 weeks along now, expecting our 2nd daughter. I read this article a few weeks ago and I felt no sympathy at all for this Dad. From the way he described his first son, he didn’t seem to even like being a parent very much, so why have more children? And IVF was their choice. Twins didn’t just “happen” to them. And part of that is coming to terms with the fact that having another child to have one of a certain gender is no guarantee! You should be emotionally fine with having a child of either gender before you choose to have another. As someone who has lost a child, I realize that I see the world differently than many. At this point, I see children and a gift and a blessing, because I have experienced the other side. I am just hoping that our daughter is healthy and outlives us! I hope for the sake of all of his children, he will change his attitude and love them unconditionally.

  13. Avatar Tara says:

    I get where he is coming from and sympathize. I understand wanting something desperately, thinking you can handle it, I have on more than one occasion thought ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ I wonder to myself how the hell did I think I can do this alone? In his case it’s about having twins. He is scared. That will most likely change when they fall in love with those boys.

    It could be that the fears and tensions cause distress to the babies in utero but Im sure it’s the same for adopted kids. After they get over the initial shock, the infant period etc, I’m sure it will be fine. I do nope that the kids don’t do a google search and find the column before they have the capacity to understand.

  14. Avatar Sam says:

    OK. I am sensitive right now and that is no ones fault but my own, that said, this is just too much.
    I have thought myself part of the been-there-done-that crowd of infertility grief for some time now. Last week I hit a bump when my neighbor announced her pregnancy the day before I had surgery to remove uterine polyps (again). I congratulated her and I meant it. I truly feel happy for her but since my surgery there have been a few moments when I have thought some of the old, “my body failed me” stuff. I am fortunate, my husband and I have our son, we are fostering and hope to adopt his biological sibling as well. It was not, is not easy but I am LUCKY to be a parent in a community of people who live on a spectrum of lucky to suffering/getting through defeat. So many people have given their all to having a family and this guy seriously just compared the birth of his twins to terminal cancer. He has taken the attitude that this pregnancy is something that has befallen he and his wife, like an illness, or an accident. They chose IVF! It’s complicated, it’s involved, it’s costly, it’s IVF and they were fortunate enough to afford and create life through it. They have a son so they know parenthood is hard work, they made all of the choices and now they are angry because they didn’t get the outcome they set their hearts on? They believe they are entitled to children AND expect those children to fit their dream family scenario? They are almost 40 years old and are just now learning that they are owed nothing and their wants can’t always dictate reality? My first thought after reading this was, “Welcome to planet earth, Nimrod.” Now that I have had a chance to breath, that is still my thinking. Shame on them. I feel awful for their boys. Those twins being brought into this world are the ones who are entitled to good parents. I hope these people except responsibility for their choices and do right by their children.

  15. Avatar Amy says:

    OMG!!! Please come to your senses and give the babies up for adoption, are these people even responsible enough to have any children? If they wanted 1 GIRL then they should have adopted, IVF does not guarantee you a thing. I won’t use the profanity that is going through my head right now so I will say SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on these people.

  16. First of all, I can understand his fear. I can also understand feeling some regret (about transferring more than one embryo), mixed with excitement.

    But the thing is, there is NO excitement here. The whole article is about how everything sucks — including the problems with their first son. Clearly, they didn’t want twins, but did they really want a second child at all? Or was it more about “giving” their son a sibling, in a martyr-ish kind of way? They knew it would be a lot of work, but now it’s going to be even MORE work, etc.

    And what’s the anger about? I don’t get it, unless it has to do with the high cost of IVF pressuring people into taking chances that they’d prefer not to take. That’s a valid point — one that other IF bloggers have written about much more clearly than this man.

    Still, he’s the one getting the publicity … perhaps, like Dawn said, because “his attitude plays into the hands of those who feel like all infertility treatment is callously playing at creating life and trying to create the perfect child.” I’m afraid that’s true.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      A Crack in Everything, I think the anger we see is his way of expressing his fear and regret. I see a lot of fear in his writing, and I don’t begrudge him being afraid. I sure wish he and his wife had thought about that before they (it sounds like off-handedly) decided to transfer two embryos. And yes, I absolutely think his tirade/essay is being used as support for those who think all infertility treatment is toying at playing God. Just look at a couple of the comments on this blog to see proof.

  17. Avatar Laura says:

    Wow… I can understand fear, but his words show where his heart is not. How could anyone say that about there unborn child/ children?!
    It’s not the child’s fault. It just shows how self-absorbed this world has become. It’s all about the ME monster and always looking inward and how this going to effect ME. Selfish? YES! A child is a blessing. Boohoo, I have been blessed with two healthy baby boys.
    Grow up and be a man!!

  18. Avatar Sam says:

    I don’t think this guy represents a norm within the fertility community, could anyone think that? I have friends who have successfully had children through IVF (one couple has twins) and all of them are thoughtful people who just genuinely wanted children and are actually good parents. Dawn you mentioned in your blog that this guys article might cause people to carefully consider the number of embryos they should transfer, and that is good. I don’t think his exposure should equal bad publicity for IVF or the fertility community, reading this the strongest feeling I came away with is that this man is of the brand that puts personal want before thought or anything else and that he just sucks as a human being. Perhaps I am naive.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Sam, I hope you’re right, but there are many people who think that infertility treatment is too close to “playing God” and designing for perfection and I worry that this type of article will add fuel to their argument. Of course, you’re right that this is not the case with the vast vast majority of people who create their family with the help of infertility treatment.

  19. Avatar Val says:

    When I did IVF I seriously considered if I could handle twins (I’m a single) and decided after discussions with those who had twins that I could not. I did single embryo transfer and it failed. It was a terrible blow but I know I made the right decision. I later adopted a child.
    This folks should consider adoption if they feel they can’t handle the responsibility. Given the attitude they have – maybe both twins should be adopted out.

  20. Avatar Mandie says:

    My heart aches for these babies. They have to be feeling the disconnection from the parents. You are much more generous than I to find anything to like about that article.

  21. Avatar Laura Jean says:

    These people are jerks.

  22. Avatar LW says:

    Yes. You have to accept the risks and if you aren’t 100% sure you’d be fine with twins than absolutely do NOT transfer two.

  23. For me personally, it would have been a reasonable risk to transfer one. Sure, identical twins can happen, but the odds are not nearly so high.

  24. Avatar LW says:

    After three IVFS, two of those ending in miscarriage and one in a chemical pregnancy….I am speechless. I just don’t even know what to say. How sad…for the children, for the parents…

  25. Avatar Monika says:

    Yeah unless you’re open to multiples, perhaps just have one transferred. Twins can still happen but it’s less likely than with 2, 3, 4 or more embies. Oh and if my dh would be angry if I carried twins, he would most definitely not be writing posts for the blogs or newspapers, but emails to a lawyer instead.

  26. Avatar Vera says:

    I also found this to be very disturbing. It is one thing to have feeling of fear and anxiety-but what he has written just seems so much more extreme. Wishing that there was somthing wrong with the babies so they could justify terminiating the pregancy was very disturbing and it made me cry. That is why I cannot feel sorry for them. I pray for the sake of the chidren that the parents come around and realize how blessed they really are. Those babies deserved to be with a loving family. They should of been well aware of the chance of multiples when persuing IVF and well aware that gender cannot be guarenteed.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Vera, by transferring two embryos they should have known it was a very real possibility, not some abstract limited chance!

  27. Avatar Greg says:

    My issue with him is that any time with IVF you take the risk of multiples. If they were willing to accept that risk then he shouldn’t complain after the fact. If it wasn’t a risk they were willing to take they should have never gone through with it. I have zero sympathy for him. In life you take risks and there are consequences with those risks and you have to be accountable for the decisions you make.

  28. Avatar Christi says:

    Christy, it’s even worse than that. If you can stomach the original, Dawn’s response makes even more sense 🙂

  29. Avatar Christy says:

    Christi- I only read Dawn’s article not his, I didn’t hear that. That is horrible!!!

  30. Avatar Christy says:

    While I am not defending them at all I will say that I hated being pregnant. I was extremely sick and while I wanted my children greatly I did not bond much until after birth. I will pray that the moment those boys are born that their parents feel much differently. I understand fear completely and perhaps even a little frustration at what you may be losing, but what I read here worries me (not to mention the desire to publish your views). Lots of anger. Poor babies. Saying a prayer for the family now.
    Dawn Davenport – I did appreciate what you had to say about it. Thanks.

  31. Avatar Christi says:

    FWIW, I think I could have sympathy for this guy, and his wife, if he hadn’t also written that they were hoping something would be genetically wrong (and testing them in every way to hopefully find something) so they could terminate their pregnancy and I guess move on to have the ‘perfect girl’ child they were wanting.

  32. Avatar Geochick says:

    When I read the article I had some sympathy for the writer. I also read it differently than most people, as I’m someone who uses my blog to let the rants fly every now and then. To me, it seemed like a rant (I hope it was a rant) rather than a out analysis of the situation they got themselves into. Perhaps it’s also a response to the too-many “everything is sunshine and rainbows” articles and posts we sometimes see after infertility. I don’t know, I just know that I feel a little weird that I didn’t get as bent out of shape as most bloggers.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Geochick, I know what you mean. I felt a little weird saying that I understood in part where he was coming from. I also don’t know if he submitted this to the Huffington Post or whether they pulled it over from Babble by themselves. There are some vents that shouldn’t be aired publicly since our kids will someday be able to read what we wrote. He at least realized that by remaining anonymous. Or at least I hope that’s the main reason that he posted anonymously, rather than just fear of being slammed by all who read his essay.

  33. I can understand, however, that feeling of “OMG-What have I done. My life, as I know it, is over.” I think lots of folks have felt that. I do hope he’s getting past it to the next stage of acceptance and hopefully excitement. It really bugs me that he didn’t express some worry about the health of his sons. From his self centered perspective, sick or disabled kids would really throw a monkey wrench into his life.

  34. Avatar TJ says:

    I can understand fear. Its a big undertaking. But we don’t like these new children? Already? Pregnancy is a time you build an emotional bond. Before they are demanding needy little creatures. If they don’t like them now when they require little they certainly won’t like them when they require much. I’m worried they are setting themselves up for reactive attachment disorder which will make them less likeable. Its a slippery slope down a vicious mountainside. You can’t play god. You asked for a baby, you got two. But that’s not what you wanted so you are going to scream and pout? Put on your big boy pants. You created these children. Don’t punish them for that.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      [If they don’t like them now when they require little they certainly won’t like them when they require much.] TJ, good point, and I worry about that also.

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