Why I Chose Not To Have A Selective Reduction After Becoming Pregnant With Quadruplets

selective reductionCindy and her husband both struggled with infertility. Between her hormone imbalance and her husband’s low sperm count, starting a family was going to be difficult. But after a successful round of IVF, the young couple welcomed their first child — a baby boy. When their son reached four months old, the pair used two embryos from the same cycle as that of their son in the hopes of expanding their family. But when those two embryos eventually split into four, Cindy and her husband found themselves confronted with the new dilemma that in many ways defines one sect of modern parenting: to selectively reduce or not?

The couple wanted to use all the embryos from their first cycle before moving on to another, and knowing that IVF could take quite a while, they decided to get a “head start” shortly after the birth of their son. But Cindy attests that from the moment that she learned that she was pregnant with quadruplets, selective reduction was not an option that she was willing to fully consider.

“We are religious and we very much accepted the fact that this was what God wanted to give us,” the mother of five remembers. “But we also had just an overwhelming feeling that those babies were ours. They weren’t embryos for us,  they were little babies, our babies. So even after hearing the risk and the complications we just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t for us.”

The young New Jersey mother, then only 23 years old, was informed of all the risks of carrying the babies to term. Aside from the risk of early labor, preeclampsia, developing diabetes, and the fetuses not having enough space to even grow, the physical demands on Cindy’s body were going to be more strenuous than your average uncomfortable pregnancy. She was told that she would need to put on a considerable amount of weight, would most likely have a difficult time walking, would experience breathing challenges as the babies grew, and probably need bed rest.

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  • T.

    To each his own.

  • Frances

    I admire this family’s guts, I don’t think I could make the same decision. I do have to say, and I’m not knocking this woman whatsoever, that people are going to applaud her for making that choice with four babies, but if it had been 7 or 8 people would call her insane (think Octo-Mom).

    Knowing the potential complications, and know how this religious family would probably not elect to selectively reproduce, why did the doctors involved opt to implant so many embryos? She was only 23, this wasn’t the case of a middle aged old woman using her left few chances, this woman has decades of fertile years ahead of her.

    I feel like the doctors involved didn’t use their best judgement in this case, though obviously we don’t know the whole story. This woman is very lucky that there weren’t serious complications. She sounds like a genuinely nice person and I wish her well.

    • Andrea

      It is stated in the article that she had a hormonal imbalance and her husband had low sperm count, so no..not a lot of fertile years at all.

      I couldn’t have EVER done it, but it is their choice and as long as it doesn’t involve my tax dollars (a la Octomom) I couldn’t care less.

    • Frances

      @ Andrea – I was reading it on my iphone so I must have missed that part, but that doesn’t excuse risking her life by putting 4 or more embryos in her uterus.

      I want to say again that I’m not disparaging Cindy in any way. I applaud the fact that she knew what she wanted and went for it with regards to not having selective reduction. I do think that a more cautious doctor would have gone with only 2 or at most 3 embryos. From what I’ve read about the subject most doctors won’t do more than that due to risks for the mother.

      I was certainly not saying that I judge her, which seems to be the only thing you got out of my comment.

    • Ashley

      From what I understood, the article stated that 2 fertilized embryos were implanted – that then split. So she gave birth to two sets of identical twins (2 boys and 2 girls).

      Implanting 2 embryos in IVF is fairly standard practice.

    • NeuroNerd

      Frances, they only implanted 2 embryos. The two embryos then divided into two sets of identical twins.

    • Frances

      I am very sorry, for some reason I was only getting the second page of this article on my iphone, I didn’t even realize that there was a first page! I understand now!


  • Elle

    I’m glad they were able to make the loving family they wanted. I also appreciate the genuine and intelligent comments about the importance of choice.

    I find it odd that the couple decided that quadruplets “was what God wanted to give us,” but somehow could not accept the fact that maybe a low sperm count and hormonal imbalances the made conception nearly impossible without incredible scientific intervention was also “what God wanted to give” them.

    • Amy

      Another example of “selective faith” perhaps?

    • Olivia

      I think what that they mean, is that they could get IVF treatments without goiing against their morals, but they could not get a reduction with the same peace of mind.

      I’m also a Christian, and that’s how I saw it.

    • Vicky H

      There were ONLY TWO embryos implanted!

      BOTH embyos split.
      She ended up with two sets of identical twins.
      This is extremely rare!

      So, yeah, the most they could reasonably expect were twins–quads took a supreme act of God or chance, whichever you believe.

    • Elle

      @ Vicky H- The chances of two people both having genetic conditions which make it very very difficult to conceive naturally marrying each other and attempting to conceive is also small. Perhaps not as unlikely as two sets of twins, but from what I understand, this occurrence isn’t unheard of in IVF, it’s just not all that common for people not to reduce the number of embryos.

      I am pointing out that the couple chose to ignore what could just as equally have been “what God wanted”- for them not to have biological children- and instead decided that the second highly unlikely set of circumstances they found themselves in only after undertaking extensive medical intervention- quadruplets- was the thing that “God wanted.”

      One set of circumstances, arguably believed to be produced by God, was unacceptable to them and necessitated great leaps in medical intervention. But the other set of circumstances created after extensive meddling was good and intervening medically was then unacceptable to them. It’s picking and choosing, and I think it’s silly.

  • NotSure

    That would be a difficult decision for sure.

    It’s scary, though, how many babies are born premature and have health/developmental issues due to the increase in multiples due to IVF.

    Doctors implant too many embryos because it’s so expensive and they want to increase the chance of success. The parents get their much-wanted babies, but the babies often suffer. The health care system is seeing a great increase in sickly premature multiples. There should only be one embryo implanted at a time; success at any cost is unfair to the babies.

  • meteor_echo

    Okay, I can only give a round of applause to this woman and her husband. It’s an incredibly brave, selfless decision, and I’m glad that they had it in them to have quadruplets instead of twins. I hope it all goes well for them.

    The only thing that bugged me in this article was the notion about “starting a family”. You don’t start it when you have a child/kids, you do when you get married. A family of two is also a family… heck, a person can be their own family. Friends and pets can be part of the family. I hate cliches that state that you only acquire a “real family” once you reproduce.

  • Amy

    They think that god wanted them to have four children, even though that same God made it so that they couldn’t procreate naturally? Selective faith indeed. Funny how illness and infertility are never accepted as god’s plan, but medicine and science somehow are. How often do you hear someone religious with cancer accepting it’s god’s plan and letting nature take its course?

    I’m happy for them that this all worked out for them and it’s entirely their choice whether to abort some of their foetuses for the sake of the others, but saying ‘God wanted this’ is pretty silly. Good luck to them on raising their family though :)

    • Kelly

      Why do people insist that “faith in God” has to be the same as “laying on the ground and doing nothing”? That’s like saying that anyone who believes in God’s help isn’t allowed to have life-saving surgery, or medication, because if God didn’t want them to be sick they wouldn’t be. Let’s have some sense, please. They are allowed to take advantage of the medical advancements that are available and still have faith.

  • Victoria

    Wow , incredible story to hear, I also love the other article you wrote about her, she and her husband obviously knew what they were in for and they stay strong and went for it and I’m sure they have a happy family now. It’s easy for people to judge her because she choose fertility treatments and to say that she had selective faith but until you are in that position and have to walk that path that she did you can begin to understand. Plus last time I checked God created every person his image , including the doctors that came up with IVF and all the medical advance we have made. I completely understand as I going thru something very similar as her