My husband, Joe, and I recently joined Dr. Kiltz on WCNY as we filmed a segment on fertility. Dr. Kiltz was asked to do this in response to the recent birth of octuplets. There has been so much negative press regarding the mother’s decision to have these babies, the outrage of the people regarding the cost of these children in the NICU as well as in the future and ultimately an attack on the fertility process itself. Joe and I were asked to join Dr. Kiltz as patients who have been through the fertility process, who could speak on the subject first hand. Our situation is also slightly unique in that my cousin, Leigh, was our surrogate and carried our triplets for us.
Our goal in filming this was to reach out to the public to show a very positive side of fertility and to share with everyone our wonderful story of surrogacy and the life we now have with our three beautiful triplet boys. The show was taped and completed and I do believe that Dr. Kiltz was able to get his messages out there and we were able to touch on a few aspects as well. However, the truth is that there was not enough time to cover all that we had hoped to and we left feeling like there was so much left unsaid. I believe that we were able to touch on our story a bit but want to take this opportunity to convey our story in more detail and to touch base on our opinions and feelings regarding our own experience as well as the recent situation with the octuplets.
First and foremost, I truly believe that the desire to have children is so strong and natural and is a force not to be reckoned with. We all have our reasons for seeking fertility specialists, but the goal is the same…we want to have a child. When women are not able to conceive a child or carry a pregnancy themselves, there is such devastation knowing that the control of when to have children or how many to have is taken away. The inability to have a family is heartbreaking. So seeking a fertility specialist gives us hope that we can be assisted in this process with the dream of becoming pregnant and finding our way to that child. I truly do not believe that any of us become involved in this process with the intention to have multiples. I believe that our intention is to have one healthy baby at a time. However, we are all also aware of the risk of multiples as we implant embryos or are assisted with medications to stimulate our follicle production.
When asked off camera if I judged the woman with octuplets, my answer was very honest…..I can’t. I can not and will not judge her. Society is geared towards judging and criticizing and there is so much negativity out there in general. I certainly have strong feelings on the issue but I don’t feel that any criticism is useful and would not want anyone doing the same to me. I feel for these babies and pray for their health and well being. I understand the concerns that everyone has, but the fact is that they are here…they have already been born. Going back to when the embryos were implanted is not helping anyone to move forward. That being said, my approach to IVF was very clear and very different than what she ultimately did. I feel very strongly that the fertility process needs to be handled responsibly by both the patient and the doctor. I do believe that if you put in more than one embryo, you have to do so with the understanding that they can all take. You need to approach this with responsibility and you need to be prepared for them taking and you also need to ask yourself if you are in a position to handle that. Putting in six embryos means that you have six potential babies. So, I do not judge her, but I would have made a different decision for myself personally. In our case, we put in three embryos as we felt very strongly that if all three took, we could handle three babies financially, emotionally and physically in respect to the pregnancy. We put in three at the advice of Dr. Kiltz, with the knowledge that we risked having triplets. We put in three and prayed very hard that one would take. Well, we were blessed with three. Not our goal, but our destiny. In the end, we are able to handle that. I am lucky enough to be home to take care of them, we are financially stable enough to not have to worry about that aspect and the pregnancy was very smooth while carrying the babies.
It is not often that you hear of someone so selflessly offering their body to carry your babies and my cousin did just that. She carried them to 34 weeks with out being on bed rest and while attending law school and caring for her own three children. Surrogacy issues came up in the interview and it was a touchy situation as my cousin lived in Florida and the state of Florida did not recognize my husband or me as the parents, even with the appropriate surrogacy papers. It was a struggle during our hospital stay and we were truly insistent that we be the care takers of the babies as they were ours and my cousin was recovering from the delivery. It was a learning experience all around and something to look into prior to becoming involved with a surrogate. You need documentation and an understanding of how the state that you live in views surrogacy. We ended up adopting them in Florida as that was the state requirement. It was a rather simple process. Leigh gave us the gift of love that we will have forever….three amazing little boys who are the center of our lives.
My cousin was our miracle and Dr. Kiltz was able to give us the gift of our family. Without the two of them, I would be without three of the most beautiful little boys who have touched all of our lives with nothing but love. We now have five boys and feel so grateful to both my cousin and Dr. Kiltz every day of our lives.
So the other side of the issue of multiples is a very positive one. We are able to have families because of our assistance with fertility. Without it, we would be living very different lives.
We are personally grateful for fertility and will continue on promoting the positive aspect of it as people are always so quick to judge. Even we get our handful of negative feedback from people passing by who think that it is their right to make comments. We are grateful that the majority are touched when they see us and have nothing but positive things to say. The woman with octuplets has quite a long road ahead of her and I believe that the media will continue with a negative spin on the process. I feel that the focus should be on this particular woman and her decision making as a separate entity from fertility in general. As Dr. Kiltz said, this is such an extreme case and represents less than 1 % of the fertility outcomes. It is difficult to see fertility in general being brought in to question. We all need to be grateful that we have been able to be involved in such a miraculous process otherwise our children would not exist. If we all act responsibly and make the right decisions for ourselves, then we leave nothing to be judged. Whether you have had one child with the assistance of Dr. Kiltz, more than one or have had multiples, I do believe that you will kiss your kids goodnight every evening feeling nothing but gratitude towards him and the miracle that he performs every day.
On a side note, I have written a book called: “Raising Triplets….Our Journey From Surrogacy Through Age Two”. I hope to have it out in print by the beginning of the summer. It is about our journey through all of this and is truly a guide in how to survive what is now a very different life with multiples. We mastered it as we went through it and I wanted to share my ideas and approaches and advice so that you can master it as well with ease. Having multiples is a whole different world completely and those of us who experience it have so much in common!!!! It is filled with poems, survival tips, pictures and advice…..enjoy…….my second will be even better as the trip through the age of two is nothing short of entertaining!!!!!!!!! Enjoy!