Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And Eight Make Fourteen

You've probably heard about the Southern California divorcee with six kids who recently gave birth to eight more. The first media stories about it were abuzz with excitement, but now they've become more restrained as people begin to ponder the implications of this event.

There are reports that the grandmother is so exasperated with her daughter's obsession with having children that she's threatened to leave her to her own devices. If she thinks it's bad now, just wait till the babies come home! The mother of the octuplets, Nadya Suleman, lives with her parents in a modest three bedroom house and apparently is unemployed with no source of income, and her parents themselves purportedly declared bankruptcy recently.

I feel upset about this story. Not so much about the mother herself, because I think she was almost certainly emotionally disturbed to be in her situation and still seek fertility treatment. What I find most upsetting is the doctor who agreed to help her have more children.

I don't know precisely what kind of treatment this doctor rendered, but it seems likely that it was a kind known to carry a significant risk of multiple births. I think this doctor's license to practice medicine should be revoked, or, if that's impossible under the existing laws and regulations, I think he or she should be hounded out of practice. Right now that's not possible since we don't even know who this miserable excuse for a doctor is. But if I knew who it was and I lived in Southern California, I'd want to be out picketing this doctor's clinic.

But leaving my anger and disgust aside, I worry about the children. Not only about the octuplets, but also about the other six young children, at least one of whom is reported to be autistic. How well can a single nutcase mom and her parents take care of all of them? No doubt they'll have help, monetarily and in other ways. I expect a book deal and a new cable channel series about them to compete with Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Perhaps it will be titled And Eight Make Fourteen.

But Kate has Jon to help her raise their set of twins and set of sextuplets, and even then it's a full time job for both of them, requring logistical planning and coordination that would impress the hell out of General Petraeus. How well is Nadya Suleman going to fare with fourteen kids and no Jon to help out?

And what can we as a society do to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again?


Tom said...

Ha, ha. I LOVE the idea of a book deal for "And Eight Make Fourteen."

Indeed, I think you are surely onto something. The family can make money off the circumstance. They can get a large home with passageways the public can walk through and view the family through one-way mirrors.

But, seriously, folks. SOMEHOW, the octoplets will muddle through. I would suppose with all the attention, the eight will stay together, somehow. Maybe the Gates Foundation can adopt them and they can live at the foundation headquarters.

Nagarjuna said...

Judging from what I've been hearing about the mother's wishes, your idea of turning the Suleman household into an admission-charging human zoo sounds like something Nadya Suleman just might embrace. Maybe she'd even charge higher admission for 24 hour access to the passageways leading to public views of the bedrooms and bathrooms.

As for the fertility clinic responsible for this travesty, is THIS how the discussion went?

"So, Miss Suleman, you're in your early thirties, divorced, unemployed, attending college, living with your parents in a three-bedroom home, you have six young children, one of them's autistic, and you want to have more children?"

"I sure do, Doctor?"

"No problem. We'll just implant eight embryos in your uterus and see what happens. Will that be cash or credit?"