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.
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
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
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
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.
A Mother and IVF Veteran, Still Struggling