Large family on purpose? Sort of…

We have six kids under six. We are conspicuous wherever we go.

Why on Earth would we have so many kids so quickly? Are trying for twins intentionally? Did we always want a large family? Am I an attention-seeking, baby-crazy lady who wants more as soon as the most recent babies are out of my belly?

I’m going to answer those from last to first.

Attention-seeking, baby-crazy lady who wants nothing more that to be a mom?

No. This is maybe the least credible of these questions.

I earned a doctorate and master’s degree in disparate fields. That would have been a colossal waste of time and money if my primary dream was to become a mom. I thought I was going to have a long career in meteorological research. Maybe I’d live in Colorado near the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) or move to Oklahoma to work at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). I didn’t think I’d move back to Wisconsin after I left in 2007.

If I wanted attention for anything, I would not have studied atmospheric sciences for 10+ years. It’s not exactly a high-profile field. I would have been much better off choosing something like

After that, you might be able to guess if I always wanted lots of kids.

Did I always want twins and a large family?

No, I did not. Like I said, I was going to be a career-oriented researcher who had a couple of kids in daycare and then in public school. Homeschooling, homesteading, and having a large family was not even remotely my plan ten years ago or even five years ago when my oldest were born.

We've transferred two good-quality embryos each time. There is no guarantee both, or even one, will implant and grow, let alone reach full term. IVF is not a route to have twins on purpose.
We’ve transferred two good-quality embryos each time. There is no guarantee both, or even one, will implant and grow, let alone reach full term. IVF is not a route to have twins on purpose.

As far as having twins intentionally, it’s not possible to have twins on purpose using IVF (or naturally, of course). Each cycle we’ve transferred two embryos. They are not guaranteed to survive. We accept that there is about a 25% chance of twins, 50% chance of a singleton, and 25% chance of no baby each cycle (in our case, per the doctor). Thus far, we have hit that 25% chance of twins three times out of six. Not likely, but it’s averaging out to a 50% success rate total at this point.

Now, the first and perhaps biggest question. If we didn’t plan to have a large family and we had to use IVF to have kids at all, why are we having so many kids and why are we spacing them so closely together?

Yes, it’s intentional. No, we didn’t plan it. Make sense?

In short, an unexpectedly successful IVF egg retrieval started everything. We had 16 viable embryos when many people have less than half that, if any. Our fresh embryo transfer failed because post egg retrieval hormones are crazy. Our first frozen transfer gave us our first set of twins.

Once that first set was born and I settled into being a parent a bit, all of those 12 remaining embryos looked a lot like my babies at home. Jeff and I decided that as long as my health and our situation can support it, we’d use them all. Neither of us was inclined to abort or offer for adoption any of our embryo-babies.

That’s the reason for so many.

But couldn’t you have taken your time? Technically, yes, but…

Now, why so quickly? Lots of reasons.

I am not getting younger

At the time I’m writing this, I’m 35. If I carry both of the remaining embryo transfers to term, we’d finish having kids via IVF when I am 38 using the closest medically recommended spacing of pregnancies. The embryos are all those of a 29 year old, but my body (as much as I’d like to deny it) is getting older and may be more prone to pregnancy complications. I’d rather be done with pregnancy as young as possible.

Jeff is not getting younger, either

He’s 59 now and will be 62 when the last pregnancy ends (assuming both remaining transfers are successful). We’d like him to be as young as possible when the youngest children are born.

I’d like to be done being pregnant as soon as I can

I don’t particularly like most of pregnancy and I’d like to make my final recovery from carrying babies inside me. I want to be able to get back to weight lifting and not have my progress reversed after 9-12 months of hard work recovering from the last pregnancy.

We’re paying $800 per year to store the embryos

Using embryos faster might mean paying a little more interest, but in the end we’ll stop paying for storage sooner. For one $4000 embryo transfer, the annual storage fee equals more than three and a half years of interest. It’s cheaper to pay interest than storage.

We don’t have to adjust nearly as much when we bring home newborns and still have kids in diapers

We never really leave the baby phase. Sure, it’s intense right now. When our youngest potty trains, though, we will be done with diapers presumably forever. No going from independent kids back to dependent newborn. It was already the hardest transition of my life to go from zero kids to two kids. I don’t want to repeat that, even on a smaller scale.

Our miniature rolling riot works well for us

All of our kids are close enough in age that they play together and take care of each other (within their limited capabilities). If you saw them interact daily, you’d probably think it’s pretty neat to see so many siblings growing up close together.

Not all sunshine and roses

I acknowledge that there are downfalls to our plan, like possibly greater risk to me having closely spaced (twin) pregnancies, greater financial requirements in the short term to take care of lots of littles (so many diapers!), and a few very intense years of childcare before anyone can use the bathroom completely independently or feed themselves without spilling an entire box of cereal. Jeff and I decided that for us, the pros of closely spaced pregnancies outweigh the cons.

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