Why so many kids so fast?

I get a lot of comments on how many young kids I have. Just a couple of days ago I was sitting with three of my four kids and someone asked how I got left with all the little kids. Well, they’re all mine and one is missing. That kind of killed the conversation. Sometimes it doesn’t and people basically want to know why or how I had so many kids so quickly. I covered how in the last post. This post is about why.

As I mentioned in the last post, all our kids are from IVF. The timing is closely choreographed by us and a group of medical professionals. I call the doctor’s office and they set up labs and a medication schedule leading up to the embryo transfer. Then I return to the doctor office a few times after the transfer for pregnancy tests and finally an ultrasound around 6.5 weeks to check for number of babies and heartbeats. (I can talk about that experience in a separate post if anyone is interested.)

It’s kind of nice to be able to plan, but it kills some of the excitement of a surprise positive pregnancy test. Each chance at pregnancy costs over $4000. It’s high stakes. So far we’ve been ridiculously fortunate. I think I’d be really upset if we did a transfer and I did not end up pregnant. The next chance at pregnancy would not just be the next month, but whenever we could pull together another $4000 or more and put me through all the medication and office visits to prepare to receive embryos.

Since we do have to plan, we’ve decided to make the most of it and try to optimize timing based on medical advice and practical considerations.

  1. IVF is not always predictable. We ended up with way more embryos than we, or the doctor, expected. Our current plan is to use all of them. To do that safely, it will take 6-7 more years of having double embryo transfers every 18-21 months. We likely would have had fewer kids if we didn’t need to use IVF and certainly would have had fewer if we had fewer embryos from that first round of IVF. As far as I’m concerned, they became our kids as soon as I bonded with my oldest set of twins. They’re not just clumps of cells. Being a mom drastically changed my perspective on IVF from that of a scientist to that of, well, a mom. I have 8 embryos left, or up to 4 twin pregnancies.
  2. My age. I’m 33. It doesn’t seem old and I don’t feel old. I mean, I feel pretty creaky and sedentary at 36.5 weeks pregnant, but for the 6-9 months after the fourth trimester and before the next pregnancy I don’t feel old. Even if the higher risk stats haven’t applied to me thus far, pregnancy isn’t a walk in the park. My body will heal better being younger. I will always consult a medical specialist before further pregnancies.
  3. My husband’s age. He’s 57. He’ll be 72 when our oldest turn 18 and possibly over 80 when our youngest turn 18. We both realize that even if he’s in better health than his age lets on, he will get older and our kids will have less time with him because he is an older father. We can’t change his age. My dad died when I was 25. I miss him, sometimes acutely, but I’m grateful for the time I had with him and I think our kids will be grateful to have my husband as their father. He’s also set to retire much sooner than a younger father would, granting him more dedicated time for our kids. Besides, I’ll only be 48 when our oldest turn 18.

    All the munchkins love playing music with Dad. We’re running out of space on the organ bench!

  4. Jeff and I won’t last forever. I see as my grandfathers and my dad died how my family banded together to help each other through hard times (and to celebrate good times). I want to make sure my kids have that after Jeff and I are gone.

I have some trepidation about this time line. I want to enjoy my marriage with Jeff, not just have our whole lives focus on having and raising kids. And potentially seven twin pregnancies is a lot. So is fourteen kids–financially, practically, emotionally, everything. All of this assumes that all of the embryos survive and none split. There is about a 1%-2% chance of more than two babies in a pregnancy per the doctor, but it was also supposed to be only a 25% chance of twins and I’ve done that three times in a row.

I think both Jeff and I are more likely to regret not having our kids than having too many. We live in an area with a lot of large families. Our neighbors have 10 kids so far and the people who used to own our house had 13. We haven’t run into much criticism of our family size and I think we’re likely to find a supportive social group eventually. We’ve lived here for less than a year and all our kids are young. It’s a slow process. I’m sure we’ll return to this topic a lot going forward as we find our way.

I have yet to find someone who has done what we plan to do. I’m not sure if large family moms with babies close together or moms of higher order multiples are a better approximation. Does anyone have insight on that?

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