Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Octuplets? That's How Many?

There is nothing like a new life being welcomed into a family to bring up the spirits of everyone involved.

My niece Cheri Clegg, my wife Deb's sister's daughter, was admitted to a hospital over in New Jersey today in order to have her 3rd child.

Cheri was overdue and has been in our thoughts and prayers, and we are very much looking forward to meeting the new entry into the family.

It was just six months ago that my eldest daughter, Christine, brought my grandson Reznor Lloyd into the world.

It is blessed events like these that grow and sustain a family, and we look forward to even more grandchildren, nieces, and nephews in the future.

Just yesterday, at the Bellflower Medical Center in California, a woman gave birth and her family also grew. Why the interest in a California family welcoming a new birth? Well, that birth involved the family welcoming not one child, but multiples. No, not twins, not even triplets.

Nope, not quadruplets, quintuplets, or sextuplets. That would be six, by the way. Do you even know what they call a 7-baby birth? I didn't, I had to look it up. That would be septuplets.

But no, Natalie Suleman, the California woman, had even more. She gave birth to what might end up as an American first should they all survive. They are only the second set of octuplets to be born alive in this country's history.


The first set was born to a Nigerian-born American citizen Nkem Chukwu and her husband in December of 1998 in Houston, Texas. In that birth, one of the babies, the tiniest, died of heart and lung failure at one week old.

The other seven children survived despite being born three months premature. All are healthy, happy 10-year olds now. Can you imagine what that family went through, and still goes through, in raising ten children of the same age all at once?

I had two little girls when I was 19 years old, and I thought that I had it tough. This octuplet thing is beyond anything that most any of us could ever fathom.

In this latest octuplet birth out in California, the eighth baby was a complete surprise even to doctors and hospital staff, who had been preparing for weeks for the arrival of what they all believed would be septuplets. That eighth baby was not discovered until well into the birth process, which was by Cesarean section.

Dr. Richard Paulson is the director of the fertility program at USC and stated "When you hear about someone having octuplets, it's almost always the case that they took fertility medications".

In many cases of fertility drug-induced multiple births, couples make a life or death decision involving their children and opt for what is known as 'selective reduction' of the unborn babies, reducing their number to a level of what they and their doctors determine to be manageable risk. The other babies are effectively aborted.

So despite the obvious challenges and risks, to hear of a couple taking all of their babies through to the birthing process is both encouraging and inspiring.

Both over the next few days and on into the future, this family is going to take on many challenges and is going to need as many prayers as possible from the wider human community, so take the time to say a little prayer for them. Octuplets? That's eight babies, in case you didn't catch the idea yet. God bless them all.

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