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