Response to New York Times Article About Multiples
Posted by Terri Chebot
In the latest New York Times Magazine (8/14/11), the difficult issue of pregnancy reduction was introduced and debated. The agonizing decision for prospective parents about how many children they can manage, and the conflicting feelings of health care providers in helping them achieve their objective when it implies a fetal reduction, was sometimes painful to read.
While describing the difficulty of managing multiples, the author who had a singleton and then multiples wrote; "I was right to be afraid. Studies report enormous disruption in families with multiples, and higher levels of social isolation, exhaustion and depression in mothers of twins. The incessant demands of caring for two same-aged babies eclipse the needs of other children and the marriage." She reports being glad she didn't choose to reduce from two fetuses to one, saying "because they are no longer shadowy fetuses but full-fledged human beings whom I love in a huge and aching way."
As the mother of twins and a singleton, and the leader of the Mothers of Multiples group for more than seven years, I had a very strong reaction to this article. I was reminded of the mommy wars of the last decade of whether it was better for the family for mother to go back to work or stay home. Both issues point the spotlight on the wrong issue.
The question for me is, are we, as a society, willing and able to support parents in whatever decisions they make regarding their families. Having children, regardless of the number, is a huge adjustment for any parent. Each parent is challenged not just with the tasks of a new baby, but readjusting their understanding of themselves in the world. Having twins is no different, but with less down time. To be the best parent possible requires a community response to help parents move from surviving the experience to enjoying it. That means free and easily accessible support groups and caring attentive visitors who help new parents find their voices.
I am proud to work at an agency that offers both these programs and support throughout Greater Boston; Jewish Family & Children's Service. We don't focus on how families came into being, but simply ask how can we best support you? Isn't it time we all did that?
Terri Chebot is a supervisor in the Visiting Moms Program and the coordinator of Parent Consultations. She is the proud mother of three sons and has been the leader of the Mother of Multiples group for seven years.