Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No One Is Talking About The Sextuplets

On Wednesday, April 23rd, Allison Kate, Leah Michelle, Caroline Grace, Andrew Noah, Benjamin Luke, and Levi Thomas Perkins were born in Houston at 30 weeks, one day gestation.  Their mother, Lauren Perkins,, had induced ovulation from injectible medications and at least one IUI and whammo, six babies.  The media made a big deal about this news for all of one minute, including some painfully misleading facts about fertility treatments, and then lost interest when the family asked for privacy.  The latest news is that five of the six babies are breathing on their own just a few days after birth, which is seriously awesome.  One was reported as being "sick" but progressing.

I was anxious to see what the ALI community thinks of this news but as of today, it doesn't appear that the births have sparked any commentary on the fabulous search engine of the Stirrup Queen's blogroll.  I guess, while this incident is remarkable to me - a verified newbie to the world of fertility treatments - it's not completely unheard of in the post-Octomom/Jon and Kate world.

While I seriously hope and pray that Allison, Leah, Caroline, Andrew, Benjamin, Luke and Levi continue to thrive, I worry about how the news of their birth affects me.  And, yes, I realize that sounds pretty shallow but let me elaborate:

Several news articles describing the birth of the sextuplets referred to an IUI as a "cheaper alternative" to IVF, but with less control over the number of eggs fertilized.  While I guess that statement is technically true, I find it misleading in a way that makes me pretty self conscious at the same time.  The goal of ART is to get women pregnant with one healthy child.  One.  I feel like people forget this.  And with the media sensationalizing multiple births, I worry I will be seen as an extreme baby hoarder by seeking fertility treatments, or at least as someone who threw caution to the wind when it came to deciding how many children she might conceive.

Never mind the fact that an IUI itself has nothing to do with the number of follicles created and therefore eggs fertilized.  When I had my IUI I had two mature follicles, so theoretically my outcome was either no babies, one baby or two babies at the most.*  Proper monitoring is so important when using ovulation-inducing drugs.  And I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I wonder if Lauren Perkins had that kind of monitoring.

*I know there are some freaky scenarios where only one mature follicle was present and then somehow people ended up with high order multiples but I think this situation is pretty rare - and I sort of want to know what the "immature" follicles were measuring.

I want to believe that Lauren Perkins got pregnant with her brood by freak accident despite only showing one mature follicle, but entries from the family's web site seem to indicate otherwise.  Her husband writes that Lauren was anovulatory possibly due to the fact that she ran 50 miles a day.  A day!  As someone who is anovulatory through seemingly no fault of my own, I am just a little bit freaked out that this woman didn't try to cut back her fitness routine to see if it could have induce ovulation naturally.  Again, I don't know this for sure but the web site seems to indicate that.

The web site also includes some language about how the couple was told they had a 1% chance of sextuplets.  I frankly don't know how that number could have been assessed.  Most clinics will not let you proceed with an IUI if you have too many follicles.  Most clinics strive for singleton pregnancies.  I just can't imagine any doctor all willy nilly talking about sextuplets.  It doesn't make sense.

Anyway, get stronger babies.  You are in my thoughts.  Even if your arrival sparks a lot of confusion on my end.  More on this later.


  1. I have wondered what exactly the circumstances surrounding this were. How many follies? What was her protocol? Hmmm...very suspicious, but good luck to their family!

  2. You know, I think this highlights two points. 1) Infertility is not an exact science. 2) Some RE's really suck at their job.

  3. People were too busy with the (faux) Mexican nonuplet pregnancy to worry about a measly set of six.

    You raise some good, interesting questions. Perhaps the answers are as simple as Kristin's two points.

  4. I'm wondering, too, if there is something the RE's not telling...

    I realize that IVF is different, but NPR ran a story about the rise in multiples and how much it's costing families and hospitals and insurance companies; some insurance companies are offering a free second round of IVF if you will just implant one fertilized egg the first time around. If it doesn't work out, the second one is on them. It's cheeper to pay for 2 rounds of IVF than for any of the many, many complications that can happen with multiples. Any time an insurance company offers something for *free* I really start to wonder... and was *so* relieved that I'm carrying a singleton. My mom carried and lost twins before I was born, so there was reason to be scared, even though it was an egg meets sperm pregnancy.

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