This was my second pregnancy, and the fertility hormones that I had taken to ovulate surprisingly led to the formation of seven fetuses in my womb. Of these, six were viable, and one had already miscarried. When this news was broken to me, my brain froze. The consequences of multiple pregnancies sent my family into a state of shock and despair. We were left with little time to make a decision. We could carry all six of them with half the chances of survival for them and me (with confirmed premature delivery and additional complications), terminate the whole pregnancy, or perform the selective reduction of the fetuses to twins or a single baby. This was associated with a greater risk of another miscarriage(s) (1).
For those of you who are new to Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction (MFPR), here is what it means: it is the practice of reducing fetuses to a number that is safe since the mother and the baby are at a greater risk of complications when the number of fetuses is higher. MFPR improves the chances of having a healthy pregnancy (2).
Given the fact that I was already eight months into the pregnancy, this was nightmarish for me. I didn’t wish to abort any of the fetuses I was carrying in my womb. The decision was hard and painful for me, but I had to make a choice.
Just like most things, the internet again became my source of information. I looked through the world wide web for help but couldn’t find stories that could reassure me. We didn’t find many who shared our experience. Plus, the amount of negativity on forums left me overwhelmed. So, we decided to stick to what the doctor thought was best for us.
The decision was impossible, something no expecting parent should ever have to make. Finally, after several counseling sessions, we decided to reduce my pregnancy to twins (3).
I’ve always been a strong advocate of a woman’s right to decide what she does with her body, more importantly, her right to give birth or not. I knew that the decision to reduce the fetus number was the safest choice we had at our disposal. But on the inside, my heart was broken. We were shattered as a family. I never had a history of abortions before, and now I was undergoing it for four fetuses in a short span of two weeks.
Even before I saw their faces or held them in my arms, I had so desired to keep them all. But that wasn’t part of our fate.
Two fetuses were selectively reduced around week 11, then the other two by week 13. When we were on the way to our first operation, I went through anxiety and panic attacks. The pain was killing — they used a needle to inject potassium chloride through my belly. It went right into the hearts of the fetuses selected for reduction. It caused burns, and the emotional trauma was terrifying. It left me numb and depressed.
And while I was grieving the loss of my unborn babies, I was bombarded with challenging questions on whether it would have been a good idea to drop the entire pregnancy or keep a singleton. Did we make a mistake by not fighting for three kids instead of twins?
Once the procedures were done, we focused on taking care of the twin babies and reassuring ourselves that our decision was the best. We were also happy that the selective reduction of my multiple pregnancies didn’t result in a total loss of all the fetuses, that we were still blessed with twins to celebrate our joys with.
Our family and friends came to our rescue. We looked for comfort in sharing our story with them but still felt the guilt and pain of loss no matter what. When strangers would comment about my growing belly, unknowingly asking me if we were expecting triplets, my husband and I shared a knowing glance, even though we tried to keep this story a secret we’d carry for life.
Our story may be unique, but we later discovered that women do have multiple pregnancies — several complications and health concerns of the mother and the baby can push for selective reduction. However, a good decision as the future story evolved, it would be safe to say that having multiple abortions helped me give birth to two healthy newborns. We had a son and a daughter. They are now happy and healthy infants though every time I watch and nurse them, I can’t help but think of all that my body went through and, most importantly, the precious babies I lost.
However, now that we are parents and our babies are safe, we feel the drive to share our experience in hopes that no one goes through this ordeal or becomes silent sufferers like us. Do you know someone who went through multifetal selective reduction of pregnancy? How was their experience? Do let us know in the comments below!