When I was a little girl of only 4 yrs. old, one of the cutest Christmas gifts I ever received were twin baby dolls. The names of Pete and Re-Pete were boldly printed on the top of the box, in which two adorable baby boy dolls were packaged. This was my first introduction to twins; and at 4 yrs. of age, I was fascinated, and at the same time elated, because now there was one extra dolly for my little brother to be able to play house with me.
Sadly today, Re-Pete is being eliminated, as more and more women carrying twins are opting to "reduce" to a "singleton"; the term used when reducing twins to a single fetus. This is done at approximately 12 weeks of a pregnancy, by injecting a fatal dose of potassium chloride into the fetal chest of one of the twins. The dead fetus then shrivels, and remains in the womb over the continuing duration of the pregnancy, until it is eventually delivered along with it's live twin. To make matters worse, the procedure is done via ultrasound, giving full view of the chosen baby's demise.
Although there is no particular agency which is keeping track of the number of twin reductions, those who offer this procedure report, that demand for reduction of twins to a "singleton" are rising. One of the largest providers of this procedure, Mount Sinai Medical Center in new York, reported that in 1997, there were 15 percent twin reductions. But last year, that number had increased to 61 percent!
The majority of those choosing to abort one of twin fetuses in a pregnancy, are many times women who are middle aged, and have become pregnant through IVF and fertility drugs. Many doctors who perform reductions of triplets or more, believing this will ensure the health of mother and baby, are nevertheless reluctant to reduce twins. They argue that though twin pregnancies can carry more risks than a single fetus pregnancy, nevertheless, most twins (especially fraternal) do just fine. Dr. Richard Berkowitz, a perinatologist at Columbia University Medical Center; one of the earliest practitioners of pregnancy reduction argues: "The overwhelming majority of women carrying twins are going to be able to deliver two healthy babies." Yet, he capitulates by stating: "In a society where women can terminate a single pregnancy for any reason -- financial, social, emotional --- if we have a way to reduce a twin pregnancy with very little risk, isn't it legitimate to offer that service to women with twins who want to reduce to a singleton?"
There you have it ... the ultimate progression of "choice". If a woman has the legal right to kill her unborn child for any reason, what's to stop her from choosing one child over another? Choice has now taken on mammoth proportions! Our free will, which has endowed us with the ability to "choose" between good and evil, has been perverted with today's new interpretation of "choice". Today's "choice" is all about satisfying personal wants, without discerning whether or not those choices are good or evil. It's not about whether it's good or bad anymore .. it's only about whether I want it or not.
Babies with Down syndrome and other anomalies are being aborted more and more today, as parents believe a handicapped child is a burden, not only to themselves, but to the child itself. But twins? Parents today are fretting over studies which report enormous disruptions in families with multiples. The studies report a higher level of social isolation, exhaustion and depression in mothers of twins. Women who opted to reduce from twins to a singleton, feared the demands of two babies over one ... especially if there were other children already in the home. They believed they were doing themselves and their child or children, a favor.
In my grandparents time, people expected life to be difficult and challenging; yet not insurmountable. I myself, though I never had twins, had 5 babies ... four of whom were so close in age, they may as well have been quadruplets. Yes, the demands of having 3 children in diapers at one time, while pregnant and nauseous with a 4th, seemed overwhelming at first. But, as a young mother, I soon learned that it was only a matter of time before I was handling all the demands of diapering, feeding and caring for all of my children like a pro. In short, I became "super mom" ... and I loved it! And none of my children felt left out. Nature and God always seemed to provide. and I discovered inner strengths and talents I never knew I had.
Not only did I become wonderfully adept at handling 4 children under the age of 4, but children who have multiple siblings are actually easier to care for, since they all have companions to amuse and keep them occupied. I have always noticed that parents with only one child have much more problems than I ever had with 5 children. One of the biggest of those problems, which I noticed my single child friends to be experiencing, was the issue with a single child sleeping with their parents for quite a few years, because they were afraid of sleeping alone. I never had that problem, as my kids all had siblings to keep them company in the dark. As a result, my husband and I never had our marital bed interrupted, save for a couple of very rare occasions when there was a sick child.
Talk about surprises ... when my 4th child was 10 years old, and my oldest was 14, I discovered I was pregnant at 40 years of age. My initial feelings were that of being overwhelmed all over again. How will I handle this, I thought to myself. I'm starting all over again. But along came number 5, and I barely had to worry. Her four older siblings took over, as if it had all been rehearsed. She never even slept in the new crib we bought for her, as her older siblings would take her into their beds. She was their pet. Once again, things seemed to just fall into place, and all my worries proved to be unfounded. Instead of an extra burden, there was an extra blessing. Once the older four children left for college and marriage, my husband and I still had another little voice to fill the house. And soon, little number 5 was not alone either, as her older siblings began having little nieces and nephews for her to love.
Why choose to kill one child, out of fear that we will not be able to handle it?
My main point here is this. We have become, not only a selfish society, but a wimp society. We are so afraid of any challenges or demands being made upon us, that we think we have to control everything ... whether or not to have a child ... or how many children to have ... it's all such nonsense ... that neurotic feeling that we have to be "in control" of everything. Why does everyone want to have such a "scripted" life? I don't get it. What ever happened to pleasant surprises ... or taking things as they come? What is so awful about that? Why does everyone want to micro-manage everything so much? How dull.
I believe that all of these questions make a huge difference between people who have a faith in God, and people who do not. This does not mean that those of us who have a faith in God, sit on our buts and do nothing to alleviate the world's suffering, or that we leave all caution to the wind. It simply means, we know that we are not in control of everything; and that there are limits to what man can; or more importantly, should do. We know, that regardless of what modern science may be capable of, there is still much that is God's domain, and not ours.
We are not the Creator. As a Catholic, I was taught that man is a co-creator with God. We do not create life on our own .. rather we procreate .. that is, we cooperate with the Creator Himself to bring new life into being. We engage in the creative act, simply by God's permission. But we are not the ones who called the universe into existence. We are not the ones who infuse a soul into physical matter. Fertility treatments and attempting to control how many babies one has, and or how perfect those children are, is creating a world where, in attempting to take on god-like powers and authority, we are becoming monsters ... killers ... manipulators of God's divine gift of life, which belongs to Him and Him alone.
To all those women out there, who fear they cannot handle twins ... there was a time, when I was up to my ears in diapers and breast-feeding infants, and chasing toddlers. But, as hectic as it was, there were many joys, that I would not have traded for all the convenience in the world. And it was all over way too soon. Way too quickly, those little ones were out of my door, and now I have a lot more time on my hands. Time to write this blog. Time to recollect and remember, when my walls had multiple finger prints, and I was tired more often than not. When I could not afford that new dress, because I had to put that money toward my children's education; and the many times my husband and I had to choose between paying this bill or that bill. Now I have 13 grandchildren. Some live close by ... others are far away, and I am not able to see them all that often. All the fears and anxieties of my youth are far behind me, and I look back and marvel at the things I got through, even though they seemed so insurmountable at the time. Life goes by very quickly, and we look back one day and wonder what we were so worried about.
Back to Pete and Re-Pete ... twins may be double work .. but they are also double joy. And we are always pleasantly surprised at what we are able to handle, when we let life happen ... and not try so much to control it. Give little Re-Pete a chance.
Ralph Nader's letters to the White House - A collection of letters to the president.
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