I just read an article trying to explain why national interest in the octuplets' mom turned to national abhorrence. Why we loved it: It's like hitting the lottery. Why we hate it: It's like hitting the lottery, and we're jealous. Another explanation tied reactions to the economy: This woman seems to have missed that we're in a period of contraction -- and here she is, expanding. That might be why the numbers are disturbing, why her family of 14 by 33 seems excessive and indulgent. Many people resent her disability payments from a previous job, and wonder if they'll be paying for her hubris.
Or it might be because she willingly engaged in a practice likely to result in extreme prematurity, intrauterine growth restriction and very low birth weight.
Having decided against a pregnancy that would knowingly result in prematurity, vlbw and probably iugr, I admit to having had difficulty being compassionate to a former friend, a mother of one from a healthy pregnancy and one extremely premature second child, who decided to have another pregnancy AMA, knowing that the next baby would be delivered even earlier. They always wanted a big family, modern medicine can do so much, the age of viability gets younger and younger, there are always miracles, prayer is powerful . . . I never said it, but I just kept thinking "What are you thinking?" She didn't know why I couldn't see it the same way and have another pregnancy too.
If I knew the octuplets' mom, I would be eight times as challenged in the area of compassion. She is a limit case of reproductive intervention. She (unfortunately) calls into question all IVF (is it only okay if there is a dad? If he's employed? If she isn't crazy? Are homestudies necessary intrusions for reproductive technology candidates? Who gets to decide?) She makes me think "What are any of us thinking?" So quickly, the discussion in some quarters turned from "Good for her for giving her embryos their deserved chance at life!" and "Good for her for not selectively aborting!" to "Did you know she was once on disbility, is a single woman, is Iraqi . . . and that she's selling her story?!"
Certainly rarer is the mention that these kids are someday going to be grown-ups, and they would have every right to be pretty darn mad that she chose to give them a less than optimal start -- on purpose -- and somebody helped her do it.