Fascination with big families old, annoying

By Ashley Badgley

In the past few generations, there has been a major change in family dynamics and size in America. Fifty years ago, women were having 10 or 12 kids, and a big family was typical.  Now, people see this as freakish, but still have the pleasure of seeing women give birth to multiple babies and watching them grow up on primetime TV.

Nadya Suleman is all over the news for giving birth to octuplets. She has become an instant obsession. But we’ve reached the saturation point for babies. Suleman gave birth using in vitro fertilization. She already had six children prior to the octuplets, reaching a grand total of 14.

Large families have become a freak show, and it makes me a little nauseous. Coming from a family of 12 kids (all single births), I see this as cruel and wrong. I do not agree with Suleman’s choice of having eight children at once.

The ethics behind implanting six eggs is a much bigger and worthwhile story. Suleman’s eight children are still in the hospital because they were all born premature. Who knows what health problems they could have in the future?

According to a Jan. 28 CNN report, premature babies from multiple births can have serious problems such as “bleeding in the brain, intestinal problems, developmental delays and learning disabilities that could last throughout their lives.” Not all premature babies have this, but their tiny bodies certainly have to fight harder than a full-term baby’s body would.

Babies are deemed full-term at 37 weeks, and Suleman’s children were born at 31 weeks, according to CNN.com. With eight babies born at the same time, these babies are even smaller than the average 31-week single birth.

There are more important things about multiple births and huge families that need to be addressed. Instead of calling the mother crazy or praising these families, why not find out why her doctor allowed this procedure in the first place? So many women have trouble implanting one or two eggs and cannot afford to have one baby. If a woman implants six, will she get help from a television station or, in Suleman’s case, the hospital where she gave birth?

Suleman delivered her babies a few weeks ago, and they have required close medical attention. This has grown to be an enormous expense for the hospital, and the hospital is asking the state for help to pay the bill. Suleman is a single, unemployed mother who cannot afford to support her 14 children without state aid. In a state that is deeply in debt already, many California residents are angry, according to a Feb. 12 CBS.com report.

The New York Times ran a story Feb. 17 on the possible dangers of in vitro fertilization. It stated that babies born from in vitro have a slightly higher chance of developing birth defects, “including a hole between the two chambers of the heart, a cleft lip or palate, an improperly developed esophagus and a malformed rectum.” I can just imagine how these risks may affect a set of octuplets who are already premature, and it makes me sad to think a doctor and a mother would allow this.

There are big families everywhere. A woman who gives birth 10 times is just as important as the woman who gives birth twice and has 10 kids. There is no reason why anyone should obsess over these people so much. Coming from a huge family, there is nothing more infuriating than listening to other people assume what your life is like. Contrary to reality television, I did get attention from both my parents growing up, I did grow up socially normal, there were not children swinging from chandeliers and, no, I am not Catholic. These stereotypes are demeaning and judgmental.

I think it is time to get over this fascination and start realizing that there are more important things in the world than condoning the spreading of population pollution.