Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eight is Enough

I am amazed at all the hatred directed towards Nadya Suleman. I guess because I missed the buildup. I read that someone had octuplets and I read a small blurb in the paper that the woman’s mother was upset. Then I went to New Hampshire to get my hair cut and the women in the shop were outraged at the situation.

Then I heard more. Radio hosts were threatening to boycott any company who helped her. People said that she should be sterilized. (Last time I checked this was still the United States of America not China!)

This situation occurred at an interesting time for me. Last week, I watched an episode of Law and Order in which a lawyer for the district attorney’s office tried to take away a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their child. Stuff is going on in New York.

I wouldn’t make the same decisions that Nadya Suleman made. I think she was less thoughtful than she should have been. However, I believe that her situation will punish her more than we as a society ever could. I believe that the hatred directed towards her comes down to one issue -- the number of children. Many people believe that one or at most two children are enough. And with that belief as your reality her decision is unfathomable.

I like large families. Both my husband and I came from large families. I consider four children a medium sized family. When I considered stopping at three children I honestly considered whether it would be fair to the kids to only have two siblings because I knew they would miss out on so much. I probably would have had more children if we weren’t dealing with autism. Like many other parents of children with autism, it made the choice to have more children much more difficult. I remember meeting a pregnant woman who had three sons with autism and blurting out my surprise that she would dare have another; only to realize that people had the reaction to me when I was pregnant with Lizzy.

I’ve never thought well of anyone who had more than triplets resulting from any kind of fertility treatment because of the health risks to the babies. In this I don’t think worse of Suleman than I do the McCaughey’s. Quite frankly I’m not impressed with either. Even if Suleman was married it is unlikely she could afford the hospital bills or other costs associated with these children. People make decisions all the time that costs society money example -- drunk drivers. Any premature baby costs a tremendous amount of money.

So, what’s so different about her decision?

What frightens me about the hoopla is that freedom is fragile. When society decides that they always know best someone loses. I had normal children who became autistic two weeks after routine vaccines. Because of that, I have changed my opinion as to what health care all my children may or may not receive. With William we have aggressively pursued bio-medical treatments for him. Traditional medicine failed him. We have tried things that traditional medicine consider reckless and foolish.

But Will can now talk and is mostly toilet trained.

At one of his appointments with his developmental pediatrician, I told her that a couple of years ago I didn’t think he would ever talk. She said that she didn’t think he would either. I said that he can talk because we chelated him. I could see her brain hurting her because she was thinking he wouldn't have but chelation can't possibly work. She spent ten years diagnosing autistic kids. She’s seen Will for years and she knew that he was one of the kids who probably would never speak but her training required that she be closed to any treatment that wasn’t traditional.

What is great about living in America is that I can make decisions for myself and my children. And that is worth defending.

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