- I got pregnant with seven fetuses without going through IVF.
- I had to have a selective reduction to give two of them a better chance of surviving.
- I’m sharing my story because it was so hard to find information while I was going through it.
By the time the ultrasound tech labeled “fetus G,” the room swam with tears and my brain flooded with fear. The fertility hormones I had needed to ovulate resulted in seven fetuses: six viable and one that had already miscarried.
I was eight weeks pregnant with what we had hoped to be our second child, facing a scenario I’d never imagined.
The doctors explained our options: attempt to carry all six with a 50% mortality rate for all of them and me (with definite premature delivery and other complications), terminate the entire pregnancy, or perform a selective reduction to reduce the pregnancy to twins or a singleton, which posed an increased risk of miscarriage.
I couldn’t find useful stories anywhere
Instead of joyful, we were heartbroken and faced with an impossible decision, one that no one should ever have to make.
I scoured the internet for accounts of women who had experienced something similar and came up almost entirely empty. Anytime I found something written by someone in a comparable situation, negativity and harassment filled the comments.
After several counseling sessions, multiple discussions with doctors, and a 2 a.m. Facebook message to a compassionate stranger, we decided to selectively reduce the pregnancy to twins.
As someone who has always believed fiercely in a woman’s right to choose, I knew that we were making the safest, most logical decision for these babies, but my heart was shattered. I had never had an abortion, and now I was having four in the span of two weeks.
These babies were so wanted, but we couldn’t keep them all
Two fetuses were reduced at week 11, then two more at week 13.
On the way to the first procedure, I had a panic attack and barely made it into the office. It was physically excruciating — the footlong needle used to inject potassium chloride through my stomach and into the hearts of the selected fetuses burned horribly — but the emotional pain was so much worse.
The next few weeks were a blur, and I was filled with questions. How was I supposed to celebrate carrying these two lives while carrying the grief of losing the other four? Would our lives be better if we had chosen to reduce to a singleton? Should we have fought to carry three?
As the pregnancy progressed, we focused on our remaining babies’ health and tried to reassure ourselves that we’d made the right call. We were numb while desperately trying to be thrilled that our reduction didn’t result in total miscarriage, but it was so difficult to celebrate while fear and sadness lingered in our hearts.
We found comfort in sharing our story with close friends and family, but we still felt the burden of our secret weighing constantly. When strangers gawked at my enormous belly and remarked “Well, at least it isn’t triplets!” my husband and I would share a knowing, painful glance through fake chuckles.
Having multiple abortions allowed me to have 2 healthy babies
Our son and daughter are now happy and healthy infants, though every time I look at them I can’t help but think of their brothers and sisters. While our story is unusual, we learned that women have reductions for numerous reasons, including fetal- and maternal-health concerns, as well as to reduce lower-order multiples.
Now that our babies are safely here, we felt compelled to share our experience in hopes that others don’t have to suffer in silence as we did.