I watched with fascination the reports coming out of Minnesota and Arizona last week
Within ten hours of one another, two women delivered two sets of very premature sextuplets. A rare thing indeed.
Like most women who have bore our children a la carte, I cannot even imagine delivering a full on buffet of humanity in a single session.
One puts incredible strain on a body. Yes, yes, yes, we are built to do this heavy lifting, but any woman who has walked this road will tell you any number of tales of swollen ankles, impossible-to-find-sleep-positions, heartburn, hemorrhoids, back trouble, sciatica, and stretchmarks.
I simply cannot imagine all of those things multiplied by six.
But babies are wonderful creatures, and I smiled to read how happy the parents were, stared at the few photos released to the media with a mixture of ahhh and awe. These children were born tiny indeed.
To the Morrisons, the couple from Minnesota, four boys and two girls were born on June 12th.
But having come into this world at just 22 weeks and weighing between 11 ounces and 1.3 pounds at birth, they were critical at best, clinging to life at worst.
And the worst came to pass within 24 hours as two brothers lost their struggle on the thirteenth, and then a third brother on Friday, the fifteenth.
Jenny and Bryan Masche of Phoenix stand vigil over their six babies Ė five now able to breath without the aid of ventilators, but then, they were born only ten weeks premature, substantially increasing their chances of survival outside the womb.
An "extremely premature" infant -- 22 weeks or less-- has about a 1 percent to 10 percent chance of surviving according to the American Medical Association. At 25 weeks, the odds increase to between 50 percent and 80 percent.
To date, the biggest trauma actually concerned mom, Jenny, who suffered acute heart failure shortly after delivery. Doctors placed the blame on the extreme amount of fluid volume and her heartís inability to compensate Ė they were able to make a dramatic course correction and she is solidly on the mend this week.
Statistically, one study estimates the possibility of naturally conceiving sextuplets at 1 in 4.7 billion.
Which makes sense. Our bodies are fascinating creations Ė and they know they are not ideally built for that scenario. One, absolutely. Two? Happens with a frequency of 1 in every 89 conceptions. Triplets comes in at 1 in 7,921. And the numbers grow higher from there.
As does the risk.
But that does not stop those people for whom fertility is an elusive, often Lord-of-the-Rings type quest.
Thatís where modern medicine can step in and offer help and hope. This was the case with both the Morrisons and the Masches, who all turned to fertility specialists to aid them in their fight to conceive.
The Morrisons, both 24 years old, reportedly tried naturally conceiving for a year before seeking assistance. Brianna began began taking fertility drugs, in particular Follistim, which forces the ovary to produce an egg. In some women, like Brianna, the ovaries release many eggs at one time. Her "over response" to the drug resulting in six eggs being released and fertilized.
The doctors only refer to Mascheís conception as "artificially inseminated", but given the stats, and their own admitted struggles to conceive, it is not a stretch to believe some medications like Clomid were also involved along the way.
Now, conceiving is one thing, the actual physical demands and logistics are a completely different set of medical journals. Doctors knows the risks involved in any type of multiple gestation.
In the case of the the Morrisons and the Masches, doctors consulted with them all about incorporating "selective reduction" (yes - the technical, more polite sounding terminology for choosing to abort several fetuses) in order to increase the chances of healthy births for the remaining babies.
Both families declined. Both families being quoted as saying "Itís in Godís hands." Jenny Masche even being quoted as saying, "Maybe if God wants to, He can reduce them on His own, but I know this is not something that we can do."
And yes, this is where I begin to mentally chafe.
Not because someone is relying on their faith to pull them through a delicate situation. I think that is great. I believe a personís faith is important, grounding. It can center a person, it can help them find strength when they are down.
But God didnít put six babies in there to begin with. People did.
If you want to use their logic, that everything is in Godís hands, and His will be done, then perhaps their infertility is a sign from above and they chose to dick around with a much Higher Power.
My point is that you canít have it both ways.
God didnít inject the drugs. God didnít pull out the medical grade turkey baster. And God didnít point a divine finger at those baby boys last week, taking them from their siblings.
He was right there to welcome them, that I firmly believe, but the blame cannot be placed on Him for this anymore than a car accident in which a drunk driver takes out an entire innocent family on their way to an amusement park.
We have FREE WILL. That is the biggest and most dangerous gift we were given. We have the ability to choose, and the sad fact is, sometimes our choices just donít pan out. Sometimes our choices hurt ourselves, sometimes our choices hurt others.
There are now nine babies, born within ten hours of one another, living moment by moment, assisted by talented medical teams, defying odds which would scare a Las Vegas bookmaker.
My thoughts are with their families, and I pray that these children grow stronger with each breath they take.
I also fervently hope they serve as a cautionary tale to other people who are staring down their own complicated fertility issues.
I know the longing for a child of your own. I have lived the nightmare of becoming pregnant, building dreams and sand castles in the air, only to have them washed away by the devastation of a miscarriage. I have railed against the fates, and yes, against God. When you are faced with an emotional crisis of such proportions, you need to blame someone, something, some power - because coming to terms with "shit happens" is just about impossible.
I know that the desire to bring a child into this world is a "feeling" Ė one that borders on near obsession Ė and "feelings" like these are impossible to reason with. They want what they want and consequences be damned.
But if Godís will is something a person plans on using to justify their FREE WILL actions, perhaps they first need to take an honest look at what is, quite possibly, Godís wonít before they move forward with their plans.