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An Open Letter to the Parents Who Ruined Their Lives by Conceiving Twins

Photograph by Getty Images

A discussion blew up within parenting communities—especially within infertility communities—after two anonymous posts by "Mr. and Mrs. Albert Garland" on Babble went viral. The couple ignited a firestorm after making disparaging statements about the impending birth of their twin boys, conceived via IVF. Comparing the countdown until birth to a cancer patient's countdown to death got people talking (among other things). Our own Leah Campbell, who also suffered with infertility, has a response.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Garland,

I hope it is acceptable for me to address you by those, your chosen pseudonyms, in the pursuit of unleashing your regret upon the world. I equally hope it is acceptable for me to write to you using my given name, as I learned long ago that if you have to hide behind anonymity in order to say something without fear of backlash—you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.

Although in this case, your anonymity does serve a purpose I suppose. Protecting your boys from one day Googling their parents and coming across the true feelings which accompanied their conception is of course a noble pursuit. No child should have to be confronted with their father openly admitting he at one point wished genetic abnormalities upon them, hoping simply for an excuse to abort without a black mark on his conscience. How very kind of you to shield them from that.

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I should probably share a bit of my history, as you have been so generous in sharing yours. I was 27 years old when I lost my ability to conceive. Still single and believing my life was ahead of me, I lost the one thing I had always pictured in my future: motherhood. Or at least that was how I saw it at the time; yearning more than anything else to build a large family, to have the chance to love and nurture my children from the point of conception. I did pursue IVF myself, failing after two rounds and not feeling capable of going any further. I was young, and my age should have been on my side. But it wasn’t. I failed where you succeeded. Yet, somehow, we each were left devastated with the results.

Over the years I have worked closely within the infertility community. I have witnessed both joy and heartbreak. I have watched as a friend lost twins conceived via IVF late into her pregnancy, having to kiss her babies goodbye as they exhaled both their first and last breaths. I have cried as those I care about have faced failure after failure, with no end in sight.

And now, I see you: two people who made the decision to pursue treatments and the educated choice to opt for transferring two embryos. Two people who were blessed with IVF success on their very first try, only now to be left describing their overall emotions regarding this pregnancy as “pissed” and “regretful” because they didn’t get the sex they wanted. Or the number.

Entitlement at its very best.

You wanted to be pregnant, but only if you could have it exactly as you pictured. You wanted to control something, down to the last detail, that none of us have any control over. You got the happy ending we all hope for in pursuing treatments, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t the precise result you wanted. Not getting your way, you both now seem to be throwing a fit in the corner—likely a temper tantrum which could rival even those of the difficult firstborn you describe with very little warmth or affection.

It seems more as though you wanted it, simply because you felt you deserved it; because you were angry it didn’t come easily when you initially set out to try.

And it baffles me, because you made these choices. You pursued these treatments. You understood exactly what you were getting into; yet, now you seem not only anxious and afraid (as many new parents often are), but also overwhelmingly bitter at the results. You describe a situation of fighting to get pregnant while rationalizing that it was solely to provide your son with a sibling, latching upon an opportunity to blame him for this situation you chose for yourselves. It seems more as though you wanted it, simply because you felt you deserved it; because you were angry, it didn’t come easily when you initially set out to try. And, now, that anger perseveres—even in the face of success.

Anger brought by two lives you actively pursued creating.

I am not arguing that twins will be easy, or that everyone blessed with pregnancy should be immediately excited about the prospect of parenthood. But you fought for these babies, and you made choices you knew could very well lead to a twin pregnancy. Yet, you now seem content blaming your unhappiness on their conception, incapable of taking responsibility for your own actions or accepting the fate you pursued.

What’s worse is that you are now also out there, representing the infertility community. You're getting attention for your words and giving the impression that we may all be as selfish and entitled as you two have painted yourselves to be. But the reality is that most within this community would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

Earlier this year, a miraculous series of events led to my adopting a little girl. I wasn’t looking for her. I didn’t expect her. And I had only one week’s notice before there was a newborn in my home. I would be lying if I were to say there weren’t moments of panic, trickles of fear regarding my ability to care for her with so little time to prepare. But in the end, her adoption has been the best thing to ever happen to me: the light at the end of a very long journey, leading me to realize that perhaps this (perhaps she) was the plan all along.

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So to Mrs. Garland, I want so badly as a woman to believe the same will be true for you. I want to understand where you are coming from and to make excuses for your words, to attribute them to depression or an explosion of pregnancy hormones—even to a spouse who seems far from supportive. I want to believe that no woman would endure the hell of fertility treatments unless she truly desired a child, and that in your heart you do already love these twins. That once the haze of post-pregnancy hormones clears, you will regret ever blaming the ruin of your family on them. I want to believe there is more there, beneath the surface of your sadness and regret. And if there is, I truly hope you get the help you need to be the kind of mother your children deserve. The kind of mother—I want to believe—in your heart, you want to be.

But if that isn’t possible, then the only double trouble here is not these boys of yours about to enter the world. It is, instead, the double tragedy witnessed in the form of their parents—adults seemingly incapable of coping with a world that fails to conform to their every whim.

And if on the day your twins are born, you still feel as though conceiving them is the biggest regret of your life, send them to me.

I know a few people who would give just about anything for your regrets.

Sincerely,

Leah Campbell

A Mother and IVF Veteran, Still Struggling to Comprehend

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