Thursday, February 12, 2009
Enough about the "Octuplets Mom" already...
After over a week of reading almost exclusively negative media coverage, blog posts, and blog post comments about the mom of the octuplets born last month, I feel compelled to come to her defense. No one else is!
Let me preface this post by saying I truly believe it isn't fair to judge someone else unless you have "walked a mile" in their shoes. Least I be accused of hypocrisy, I'll be the first to admit I am guilty of writing judgmental posts (a post I wrote a couple years ago about Brittney Spears comes to mind...). I am not saying I haven't done it, just that I don't think its right.
Most of what we know of this woman and her family is courtesy of the media. In my experience, the media does not have the best track record for providing bias-free or even accurate information.
Do I agree with the choices this mother made, in terms of the size of her family? Of course not--I think she should have stopped about 10 kids ago.
Do I think the doctor who did the IVF procedure used his best professional judgment when he transferred 6 embryos, regardless of the number of previous children? After listening to some "expert" doctors on the news, evidently not. Other reports suggest--standard of care or not--the octuplets mom is hardly the first woman to have large numbers of transferred embryos "take" and result in high-order multiples.
Am I thrilled by the prospect of my tax dollars going towards the SSI at least some of these children will be on? That would be a "no" also. The bottom line is no one can afford the hospital bills for one of these children, let alone multiples.
The last time I checked, Evan was up to almost 1 million on his 2 million lifetime maximum with our individual insurance policy. Compared to some other children I know of who were preterm or have/had multiple congenital health issues, Evan was a bargain. I may justify to myself that we not being a drain on society because we had our own insurance policy, but what does that really mean? Essentially, the total bill was contractually reduced and remainder spread out over the subset of the population who happened to be other subscribers. We paid our premiums and deductibles, but what we got in return was much, much greater than what we have ever (or will ever) pay in. I may gripe about our insurance company sometimes (ok, quite frequently), but I do appreciate this fact. And for awhile Evan also had a secondary medical coupon (i.e. we didn't have to pay our deductible or coinsurance) and we are still receiving "financial aid" from Children's Hospital. I guess what I'm getting at here is that I don't think it's fair for me to criticize the octuplets mom for needing assistance/state insurance for some of her 14 children, when by myself I couldn't have even paid for my one.
I stayed up to watch the interview with this mother on Dateline the other night, and I was struck by her extreme naivety, in terms of the financial and social ramifications of her actions. She has been living off of student loans and food stamps! And she thinks consolidating her student loans is going to help!
I will repeat that I don't think she used the best (or even good) judgment when she decided to go for that last baby. But what's done is done. Bashing her doesn't turn back time, it doesn't negate that fact that there are 8 preterm babies, plus 6 older ones at home. Can she raise all these children without state assistance or having a nervous breakdown? Highly unlikely. But if we want to make sure that she can't do it--guarantee she will fail--then keep the pressure on her with media scrutiny. Make her feel the "love" by blasting her with constant negativity and threats. That's going to make a bad situation better???
If we weren't in a major financial crisis, this wouldn't have even attracted attention for more than a day. People would be like "Octuplets? Didn't someone give birth to nanuplets last year?" I'm not trying to make light of the serious nature of preterm and/or multiple births. But these babies--this family--in better times would not so much as raised the public eyebrow.
I think what upsets me the most about this whole situation is the mothers who I feel should be the most likely to have even the tiniest bit of compassion for this woman...they just don't. I find that really disappointing. And just plain sad.