news item: so what’s your point, exactly?

I suppose it’s a bit short-sighted of me to complain about someone else’s obvious bias in an article while I write what is, admittedly, an obviously biased article. But I’m one-fifth of this website and I’m going to take some liberties, damnit!

Josey alerted me to this, uh, I guess it’s a news item about a family who wanted one more baby and used fertility treatments that resulted in the birth of quintuplets. A cute human interest piece, right? A bit sensationalized, because while we here all know that it’s pretty rare for fertility meds that are used under the care of responsible medical staff to result in five implanted embryos, the rest of the world still seems largely unaware, and so stories like this make more headlines than the sort of everyday fertility journeys of most of us, such as the stories of the ladies featured in Faces of ALI (which you should most definitely check out if you haven’t already).

The article in question, though, isn’t a straight news piece about the family’s journey through infertility. It’s a snarky wrapper around the author’s obvious disdain for the invasive medicalization of fertility treatments. I can just hear it echoing in the back of her head: “why can’t you just adopt one of those orphans who is already born and needs a home?” (RAGE.) She certainly had some feelings about the couple in the story considering, and then deciding against, a “rare opportunity” to adopt a newborn. (They “prayed about it”? How pedestrian!)

Given all of this, I suppose it should shock no one that the piece is titled Five More Reasons To Love Drugs. I see what you did there!

Here’s a fun quote:

Although my brain won’t allow me to imagine what life with quints might be like, I do love babies and feel that reproductive medicine absolutely has a place in our world. However, I’m afraid that assisted reproduction provides a supercharged emotional element conducive to overbreeding.

NO WAY. THAT IS EXACTLY WHY I DID IT! Ordinary fertility wasn’t enough for this adventurous thrill-seeker and a “supercharged emotional element” was just what I needed to kick things up a notch. My life is all about one-upping people and, of course, making sure that there’s more of my genetic material out there than yours. Discovery Channel reality show, here I come!

The world-at-large is generally ill-informed or misinformed about infertility and loss, so I’m not particularly shocked by this article’s existence, although I have to say, it really does start to go down a winding rambly road and then drop off pretty suddenly toward the end. Is this just a vehicle for the author’s irritation at the prevalence and occasional success of fertility treatments, perhaps thoughts she hasn’t even reasoned through well enough to form a cogent argument around them? Hmm.

One more:

Stories like this are common: The ovaries of a woman are stimulated via drugs producing multiple eggs. The woman is inseminated and guess what? All of the eggs are fertilized. The couple can’t bear to reduce the number, so another multiple birth begins.

THAT IS NOT COMMON. Many doctors will cancel or convert an IUI cycle to IVF if multiple follicles look promising to avoid things like five eggs being fertilized and implanting. IVF, sure, multiple eggs are fertilized, often as many as possible, but they’re not all transferred. Know your basic facts before using words like “common” to describe this situation (the family in this story didn’t use IVF, by the way).

Here’s an update on the kids on their fourth birthday, by the way– and I’ll add that they seem like a really mellow, down-to-earth family, for which those parents have my undying admiration and respect because I have TWO kids and we watched about three hours of TV today (cringe).

So while it’s a bit of a stretch, I did manage to formulate a few discussion questions for this particular journalistic gem…

* * * * * * *

What is the lowest common denominator of what you will accept for infertility-related journalism?

* * * * * * *

As for me? I think a little open-mindedness and understanding goes a long way. If you have to write about a sensationalized story like the birth of quintuplets then please remember that commenters are going to concern-troll the crap out of it (“that’s so irresponsible; the babies could be born early and could be sick!”) so maybe balance it out with a little fairness. Maybe five healthy kids born into a loving family who are capable of caring for them isn’t a complete and utter travesty deserving of a laughable and degrading “how you came to be” story.

Also– please don’t make up medical facts, journalists of the world. If you want medical info to add to your articles, ask us. We have PILES OF FILES.

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