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Go forth and multiply
Explores the the infertility crisis currently experienced by women who waited too long to have children.

I'm really disturbed by the public outrage being dumped on the hapless mother of octuplets who had the temerity to bring 14 babies into the world. At this writing, all the facts are not in, and much of the information being bandied about in the media concerning in vitro fertilization is uninformed. First of all, some cultures, particularly in Middle Eastern countries, believe large families are a good thing. My own grandparents, immigrants to Canada from Russia, had eight children. As was common in those days, two of them died in infancy. That was one of the reasons people had large families then -- so that some of the children would survive. Certainly in Quebec, where I was born (one of only two children, both of us depression babies), the Catholic Church endorsed large families. Many rural families had a dozen or more children (they needed the help on the farms). So did orthodox Jews. We more secular, urban types, with smaller families, called them "stepladder children" with considerable derision, I admit. Secondly, apparently this current mother of seven existing children wanted one more child and did not anticipate the implanted embryos splitting, if that is indeed what happened. As a mother of naturally conceived identical twins myself, I am definitely aware that a fertilized egg can split all by itself (an electrical storm?). My twins are in their forties now. Thirdly, as a mother whose daughter who had embryos implanted in assisted reproduction proceedings, I know that not all embryos implant. True, a larger number of embryos may be implanted in a woman who is 44, as my daughter was when her embryos were inserted, than in a woman who is only in her 30s. In my daughter's case, the first time she underwent in vitro proceedings (after 9 earlier unsuccessful attempts at artificial insemination with fertility treatments), she produced 20 eggs through hyperstimulation of the ovaries, only 13 of which were considered of quality suitable for fertilization. Only eight had cells that multiplied in the petri dish after fertilization through single injections and "egg hatching" (a delicate technique that "wakes up" the eggs and persuades them to open). In vitro methods require the mother to be anaesthetized, and the eggs are sleepy too. All of these eight embryos were implanted, but none of them "took" to result in a pregnancy. On her second attempt through in vitro fertilization, my daughter produced only seven eggs, all of good quality. Four were implanted in the fallopian tubes and three in the uterus. Only one attached itself and resulted in a pregnancy. Unfortunately, as I have written before (see Cryo Kid - Drawing a New Map, www.cryokid.com), the baby did not survive. She was stillborn, strangled by the umbilical cord a week before her due date. So you see, in vitro fertilization is a complicated matter, and birth is a time for rejoicing. People are angry that the mother of 14 is unemployed, that she is unmarried, that she is on welfare, that she is seeking a book deal and more (she certainly needs money to look after the kids). I hope that she does get a book deal. I hope that she becomes a TV commentator, as she dreams. I hope that her life, and that of her kids, all 14 of them, turns out well. We don't know why she wanted all these kids, and, anyway, it's really none of our business. The Bible tells us to go forth and multiply. This mother did. Is it better for a whole generation of women to wait until it's too late to have children and then regret that they can't have them?