My Personal Struggle with Selective Reduction

One of the most significant decisions I have made in my life was to go forward with a pregnancy that every one said was doomed. After finding out I was pregnant with quintuplets every doctor that I saw said that a procedure called selective reduction was my only option if I wanted to have a successful pregnancy. I choose not to have the procedure even though they pushed me very hard to choose which of my babies would live, and which would die. I made the decision to try and bring all five of my babies into the world. Even though it was an almost all or nothing choice, I went with my heart and proceeded with my pregnancy.

After trying to get pregnant for three years my husband and I where finally successful, and the joy we felt was immeasurable. At our first ultrasound the doctor found four little beating hearts and one baby that did not yet have a heart beat, but was growing well. We where shocked, elated and scared, all we could think about was the risks this pregnancy would have. We where scared about the possibilities of miscarriage, premature birth and the life long disabilities that could result from being born early. We where then presented with the option of selective reduction, and had to ask ourselves if we could really choose to destroy several of our babies or do we risk it all and try to carry them to term.

The doctors told me over and over that there was no way that all of my babies would survive unless I had the procedure. In this procedure they insert a large needle into your womb and into the babies in the most convenient spot and stop the baby’s heart with and injection of chemicals, they would do this to three out of the five babies leaving me with twins. The doctors tried to scare me into consenting by telling me that it was hopeless if I did not reduce. I was told that there was only two things that could happen if I continued my pregnancy, one being that I would lose all of my children and the second being that they would be born so early that they would not survive. I was made to feel as if I had no other choice, and that I was a bad person if I did not do what was in the “best interest” of my babies.

My husband and I discussed it for weeks, all hours of the day and night and could not make sense of any of it. In the end it was up to me since it was my body and my health, both mental and physical, that was on the line. I was already so attached to these babies that I could not even imagine having someone else decide which baby was going to have the chance to live and which would not. On the other hand, I had to fight all of the “what if” questions and face the chance that I could lose all of them, and then what? How would I feel then? I agonized over this decision, and knew that what ever decision I made would greatly impact my family.

I wondered every day how we would feed, clothe and take care of five babies and how we would ever fit them all in our house. I had always prayed for the chance to become someone’s mom, and now an answered prayer seemed more like a curse. That fact that we had tried so hard to get pregnant also weighed heavy on my mind. I felt ungrateful that I was even daring to question what I had been given, and constantly wondered if I did question this gift would I lose everything. I felt like I could never make this decision, and time was running out.

The day before my time was up I made the ultimate decision; I would not go forward with the reduction. The doctors told me to keep my appointment anyway so they could take a look at how I was doing, and so they could take one more crack at getting me to consent to the procedure. I went to the appointment and sat down to watch a video that they provided for me and my husband about the selective reduction procedure, I left the room in tears with my mind made up. There was no way I was going to go though with it, I was ready to deal with anything that happened in the pregnancy after that and not look back. I let go of all my “what if” and “why me” and made peace with the decision I had made. I overcame my own personal fears and made the biggest decision of my life, one that would impact my whole family.

The doctors told me I was wrong, and that I should do it, that my pregnancy would be long and horrible, and they where right it was. In the course of the pregnancy I lost two babies on my own, spent seventeen weeks on bed rest, ten of those weeks where spent in the hospital. I gave birth to my surviving triples 9 weeks before their due date, but they where strong and healthy. They spent a month in the hospital and came home weighing in at a little less than five pounds each. It was a struggle to get them here, but it was worth every second of the effort and strain.

Every day I look into their beautiful faces and I am thankful that I overcame the obstacles that were in my way and that I did not let fear or pressure from the doctors lead me to a decision I would have regretted. If I had let the doctors do my deciding, one of my incredible kids would not be here right now and to just think about it breaks my heart. I would be missing out on every smile, laugh and mile stone of one of these perfect miracles if I had let the doctors have their way.

This decision has impacted every area of my life, and it was not an easy one to make. In the end it has all worked out for the best, and I am so happy that I made the decision to let go of my fear and go with my heart. It made all the difference and impacts a lot of the decisions I make today. My triplets are now almost four years old, and I can’t imagine my life being any different then it is right now, hectic, crazy and joyful.

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