Members of the medical team that delivered the babies, initially thought to be septuplets
New details are emerging about the woman who gave birth to octuplets in Los Angeles earlier this week. It was only the second time in known history that octuplets were born and all survived. The family’s name has not been released to the public out of concern for their privacy, but it is known that they currently have six other children at home, and their ages are seven, six, five, three and two, including one set of twins. The mother is thought to be 33 and single, and lives with her parents. Her father, who is said to work as a contractor in Iraq, is going to have to go back soon to earn money to support his huge extended family. The grandmother has admitted that her daughter refused to undergo selective reduction of the embryos, which were implanted through invitro fertilization. Selective reduction is a somewhat controversial practice in which some viable embryos are given saline injections in order to increase the chances of survival for the other fetuses in the womb. It’s also controversial to attempt to take so many babies to term, as it pushes the limits of human physiology. The babies are doing well, with all but one of them, a boy, breathing on their own. The other seven newborns are being fed donated breast milk through tubes.
The mother of the octuplets born this week already has six other young children and refused the option of a selective abortion when told she was expecting multiple babies, it has emerged.
Instead the woman, who has not been publicly named, chose to go ahead and give birth, giving her a total haul of 14 children.
Today, as all the babies continued to make good progress in a Los Angeles hospital, it emerged that the mother’s existing six children were under the age of eight, including one set of twins.
The family live with both her and her parents in the well-kept suburb of Whittier, near Los Angeles.
Angela Suleman, her mother, disclosed to the LA Times today that her daughter had embryos implanted last year and “they all happened to take”. Despite doctors giving her an opportunity to selectively reduce the number, she refused.
The subsequent birth, while being only the second time in history that octuplets have been born and all survived, caused worldwide attention – but also some discomfort among critics who have questioned the medical ethics of implanting multiple embryos, which makes multiple births more likely.
“What do you suggest she should have done?” Ms Suleman told the newspaper. “She refused to have them killed. That is a very painful thing.”
The mother, who described the newborn babies as “so tiny and beautiful”, admitted that being able to bring up 14 children – the others are aged seven, six, five, three and two – would be difficult. She added that her daughter’s father was going back to Iraq, where he is believed to work as a contractor, to help support the extended family.
There’s no way to take care of that many newborns without a lot of help. I remember seeing a Discovery channel special about a couple in Wisconsin with quintuplets I think, and they had members of their church come in to help feed and cuddle the babies. They had a whole schedule worked out and people were so happy to be able to help them with the babies. Watching newborns is something you don’t really have to convince people to do, and they had more than enough volunteers. Maybe this family can work out a similar arrangement while keeping their privacy if that’s important to them. There’s always the reality show route, although that seems like a last ditch resort. I know I wouldn’t want to subject my family to that. There’s also the option of going on Oprah, or maybe some morning talk shows. In that way, they could present their family to the public without exposing them beyond a level they’re comfortable with. People are genuinely interested in hearing more about them, but if they don’t want to go on camera they’ll hopefully be able to get by without resorting to that. It makes you feel for them that their grandfather is going to have to return to Iraq to make ends meet.
Update: Thanks to those of you who pointed out that the woman’s father, not the babies’ father, is going to have to return to Iraq to help support the family. That has been corrected in the text. According to ABC News, the woman is thought to be single and living with her parents. The family also really seems to be wary of the media and are not likely to grant interviews any time soon.
Update 2: There’s some question whether the woman was taking fertility drugs on her own as breederina mentioned, or if she had in vitro fertilization. According to her mother, she had the embryos implanted. An earlier story stated that officials at the hospital “have not been authorized to release information to the public on how the babies were conceived.”