On air: Baby blessing?

I’m sure most of you will have read the amazing story of the American woman who gave birth to octuplets. She’s only the second woman in the US who’s known to have given birth to eight living babies – six boys and two girls, who’re all said to be doing well.

Many of you may have had the same reaction as me and the rest of the WHYS team: sheer amazement at the number of the babies … and wondering what it would be like for the mother (and the father and babies as they grow up).

So on today’s show we want to hear from people who’ve experienced giving birth to, raising or being one of triplets, quads, quins, septuplets or octuplets (I think i’ve got those right).

For one person’s experience, you can read the blog of Jayson Wilkinson, father of quins (or quints, he calls them).

But there are also some bigger questions about multiple births. Should the parents sell their story to the media? How much help should the government give you? We don’t know whether the US octuplets were the result of fertility treatment, but should that make a difference to the support you receive?

In the developing world, pregnancy is already more dangerous, and conceiving more than one baby can increase that a lot. Are multiple babies a problem when a mother often has to get straight back to manual work, and may struggle to feed one mouth let alone many? Or do parents in the developing world get more support from their community?

And, in an increasingly crowded world, are multiple births a blessing or a burden?

Post your thoughts here, and join me on air at 1800GMT.

52 Responses to “On air: Baby blessing?”

  1. 1 Monica in DC
    January 27, 2009 at 14:32

    They will get help, there are always people willing to pitch in both physically and financially.

  2. 2 Lubna
    January 27, 2009 at 14:49

    Salaam James… Well, I have always wished to be a member of a big family and to have many brothers and sisters, but in reality I do have only one older sister… No matter how difficult and harsh the experience of those lucky parents would be, I am so sure that their day to-day life with their octuplets is gonna be supermarvellous and worth living second by second… In my opinion the conjoint support of the mother’s family and the father’s family and also the support of the neighbours if they were 100% trust worthy is xtremely valuable and important here, b/c caring of only one neonate is not an easy task at all, so how about caring of 8 neonates all together?! :-)… The state must offer them its support too, especially from a financial perspective… My congratulations to them and may Allah always bless them and their octuplets, Amen… And BTW James, children are always a blessing, they can never be a burden… It’s just that adults often mess this world up and then come out shamelessly to blame kids for their problems… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  3. 3 kum Roland
    January 27, 2009 at 14:53

    Multiple births in the African Society are mixed blessings.
    Very few sub saran African women will survive from them especially as there are still thousands of births at home.
    On the other hand, Government aid to them is usually politicized as being donated by the first lady meanwhile the funds are from the states coffers like is the case with a famous ‘Chantal Biya’ foundation in Cameroon.

  4. 4 Adam Foya, Tanzania
    January 27, 2009 at 15:02

    Its real amazing and testfying God’s creation. However the challenge remains to be how to care the baby.
    The question am asking myself, if the mother was coming from poor family, how would they feed and raise the babies?
    In poor African and Tanzanian families even twin sometimes are seen as blessing but a real load for the familiy.
    All in All we should thank God they are alive and pary they for their growth.

    Adam J. Foya
    Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

  5. January 27, 2009 at 15:08

    There was the case of a Russian mother who gave birth to 67 children in the span of 40 years from 1725 to 1765.

    Having so many babies at the same time can be a blessing if the parents have the means and the time to support them. It can be fantastic to have a big family all of a sudden. But the effort and the cost of raising a child in today’s world isn’t so easy.

    For many parents, the beauty of having many children is that they come one by one. At least parents enjoy having babies over a period of time.

  6. 6 Patti in Cape Coral
    January 27, 2009 at 15:10

    Hi WHYS!

    Multiple births are a blessing so long as the babies are healthy. I don’t think I would actively seek out a multiple birth with all its increased risks. And of course, as with any kind of birth, parents should make sure they can provide before they take that step.

    I’m sure life is going to be hectic for the parents, but life throws curve balls at you all the time!

  7. 7 Steve
    January 27, 2009 at 15:32

    Nancy Pelosi in the past couple days says she wants to use birth control as a cost cutting measure since children causes expenses for society, such as by supporting them, educating them, and feeding them. I’m curious what Nancy Pelosi would have to say to this mother.

  8. January 27, 2009 at 15:39

    WOW! My hats off to that family! If I had multiples, I would take them, but I would never wish for them! I can barely handle the two I have 4 years apart. But, I do know some mothers (and fathers) of multiples who say it is easier. They take care of each other more and fight less. When they do fight, the resolve the conflicts much faster. But 8 at one time. It would take a village to raise them all at once. Strong parents would be the key. I would just cringe at the teenage years!! I really hope that for the couples sake that they are a solid unit!!!!

  9. 9 Chernor
    January 27, 2009 at 15:46

    Well… for me multiple births is a blessing. It does not matter whether you are poor or rich.

    In my country for example(Sierra Leone)there is a lot of excitement about giving birth to twins. Well, I have not seen a case of morethan two babies yet, but when you have twins in Sierra Leone you attract an extra ordinary interest from every body around you. Every body would want to touch or play with the babies. It’s more of a fun like here.

  10. January 27, 2009 at 15:57

    For woman who is past 40 and have never had children before, it must a good thing for her to have a triplet or a quadruplet as she will have secured having more than one child before the menopause. For a young mother, it must be difficult as she will have to care for more than one baby at a time, which can be burden on her physical health, mainly when it comes to sleep deprivation during the first years of the new born babies.

  11. 11 Peter
    January 27, 2009 at 15:59

    Well , congratulations are in order , only Ɨ 8 times . If parents are working people and earning just enough , you better do what you can to get money to bring them up. Nothing is unethical when your babies lives is at stake . They are depending on their parents.
    Parenthood is a real experience money can buy.

  12. January 27, 2009 at 15:59

    Health issues are very real and lifelong for premature babies. For the more diminutive in multiple births the issues are more profound.

    My father was the runt twin and his grandfather the runt triplet in families large enough to compare their stature, health and intelligence with their brothers. My father, who weighed 2 lbs. at birth, was a full four inches shorter than his brothers, had lifelong osteoarthritis, skin sensitivities and nerve pain. His brothers did not share these problems.

    Even as a young child, I asked my grandmother how to understand my aunt and my father because multiples are really different in some expectations of intimacy and communication. My grandmother was awed by their closed world as 2 preemies.

    Eight babies put the child-mother pairing on a par with the bonding of babies of large litter bearing mammals. The exponential demand to produce both food and quality time is beyond comprehension. Perhaps a pit bull mom could give some advise to these novice beneficiaries of modern science.

    Love, luck and health to our 8 new world citizens.

    One note against statistics: my two lb. father outlived his brothers and had a higher IQ.

  13. 14 Michelle from Jamaica
    January 27, 2009 at 17:03

    Jamica had its first quadruplets in 2007 and there was overwhelming support for the family. There is an ongoing feature on the kids every few weeks. It was certainly a blessing for that family.
    I hope this woman gets the support from her family and friends. I don’t know if she is married, but if not I hope the father is there to give his support as well.
    Although a woman has the right to bear as many children as she wants, responsible parenting is still necessary. We want to ensure the proper care of these children once they arrive.
    I strongly believe All children are a blessing and should be a joy to thier parents. I’m sure God’s smiling at those 8 little ones. Best health to them all.

  14. 15 Anthony
    January 27, 2009 at 18:02

    If they used fertility drugs, thats just selfish. Selfish for the kids, and for the planet. Either way, since she had them, I would say go ahead and exploit it, get as much as you can for the experience, because they’re gonna need it.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  15. January 27, 2009 at 18:05

    How in heaven’s name did she manage to deliver?

  16. 17 Jasleen singh
    January 27, 2009 at 18:07

    I support family plannin, but if God wills 2 give u a bunch of babies in one go, they r welcome! I pray 4 d gud health of all d 8 n their mum. Jasleen, india

  17. 18 Lauren in Portland
    January 27, 2009 at 18:10

    Having multiple births at one time is just a sheer act of narcissism. There are so many children who are undercared for that need shelter and love already. It seems very selfish for a person to need to have that many children rather than care for the children that are in currently in need.

  18. 19 Tobias
    January 27, 2009 at 18:11

    I don’t think it’s a blessing, these multiple births are a result of scientific intervention not God. I also feel it’s irresponsible to bring eight children into an overcrowded world with so many problems.

  19. 20 pallex
    January 27, 2009 at 18:11

    Disgusting!! Having human litters just over populates an already overwhelmed planet!!
    Stop breeding!!!

  20. 21 Zainab from Iraq
    January 27, 2009 at 18:12

    Salam WHYSers.. how are you all, I really miss you alot..

    Well i don’t have a personal experience, but my sister has.. She gave birth to, and now is raising triplets, two boys and a girl.. together with the first daughter, they become four blessing children (God bless them and all the children).. they are never a problem at all, God forbid, why are they??

    Of course my sister feels tired taking care of them, especially that she can’t manage to feed, them and to clean them or to put them to sleep at one time, sometimes she never takes an hour of rest.. yet she feels happy and proud of them thank God, when we ask her to leave one of her triplets with us to take care of him till he grows up, she laughs on us, saying “that’s impossible!!”

    But let me telt you something, that it is not the problem of the mother, nor it is of the father (who feels soooo proud) , but it is of Fatoma, the elder daughter, cuz she feels depressed seeing her parents loving and taking care of her new brothers and sister.. that makes her mad.. well she has all the right, isn’t she? if I were at her place.. I would go extremely mad out of jealous.

  21. 22 Steve
    January 27, 2009 at 18:15

    @ Lauren

    I really doubt this person aimed to have 8 children. They just happened to have that many. That would be like blaming a short person for being short.

  22. 23 Anthony
    January 27, 2009 at 18:18

    No offense to anyone on the show, but it would seem that Natural Selection tells some people that they shouldn’t have children. If a parent is missing something, doesn’t that mean the kids will be missing it too?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  23. 24 Steve
    January 27, 2009 at 18:19

    Why don’t you just say “abortion” and not “Reduce”. YOu don’t need to sugarcoat the world, by saying “Reduce” you mean considering terminating them via abortion.

  24. 25 Ken
    January 27, 2009 at 18:20


    People are having these multiple births because they are too vain to adopt. I see no wonder or nobility in using chemicals to create a slew of kids, when there are far too many still in need of loving homes.

    It’s vanity, plain and simple.

  25. 26 Steve
    January 27, 2009 at 18:21

    @ Anthony

    But would you say that for homosexual couples who go to clinics or use surrogates because they cannot naturally have children on their own?

  26. 27 Nge Valentine
    January 27, 2009 at 18:24

    Hi there,

    You know here in africa, having many children is a blessing. TO us africans it is very normal. You see a couple unable to sponsor themselves financialy and socialy but they are putting to birth like animals, to us africans, when you have many children, you and your family are blessed, we do not mind the bringing up of these children, to us it’s a blessing.

    Please let that woman who has just put to birth octuplates know that she is now an african woman and that her family is blessed according to our african beleive. How i wish i were there to make some libations myself!!!

    With regards
    Nge Valentine from DR Congo

  27. 28 Venessa
    January 27, 2009 at 18:28

    These multiple births are a result of scientific intervention which is quite costly. The parents who choose fertility assistance should also carry the full financial burden to support their family. Of course families with multiples exploit their situation for financial gain. Has anyone seen the number of shows on TV for this? I find it to be quite unfortunate for unwanted children out there that truly need help and love.

  28. 29 Jason
    January 27, 2009 at 18:30

    The overwhelming arrogance and selfishness of those who overpopulate the world on purpose with multiple, fertility drug induced births for their own happiness is sickening. You are choking the already strained resources of the world and doing NOTHING to contribute to it.


  29. 30 Paul Coletti
    January 27, 2009 at 18:31

    Jayson, I see your future as manager of a globe-beating string quartet with sibling conductor. Well done and respect!

  30. 31 Jason
    January 27, 2009 at 18:38

    The state should ABSOLUTELY negate any and all funds to a family with multiple births if it has been proven that fertility drugs caused the anomaly.

    Also, if this birth is such a miracle, why is this woman so hesitant to reveal if her octuplets where a result of such drugs?


  31. January 27, 2009 at 18:39

    Coming from the Portland, OR area… I grew up sort of frowning–coupled with a sense of awe–when I saw large families. Now that I am actually grown up and having children of my own, I do see the potential of blessing with many children. I have been married for 4.5 years and am having my THIRD child. They grow up with parents who shower them with love and, in return my wife and I learn principles that are not very welcomed in the western world: sacrifice, a paced life, unconditional love, and the difference between “needs” and “wants”. I hope I have more children!

    Justin Nickelsen
    Portland, OR

  32. January 27, 2009 at 18:43

    How do parents with triplets, quadruplets etc deal emotionally with them? Do they happen to have special preference for one of them?

  33. 34 Henry
    January 27, 2009 at 18:48

    It is rather irresponsible to have more than two children considering the constraints on global resources. I’m not for Chinese-style family planning handed down by the state, and obviously there are instances where it cannot be avoided in the case of twins and triplets – but to suggest that the state ought to support these families is laughable at best.

  34. January 27, 2009 at 18:51

    Greetings and Salutations…
    Quick comment on the school tax issue. The caller was factually incorrect, in that school taxes are part of local property taxes, NOT the federal taxes that were being discussed. Also, while $10K/year SOUNDS like a lot, I suspect that it is costing close to that per child for the parent…so it is NOT a windfall.
    Dave Mundt

  35. 36 mel
    January 27, 2009 at 18:53

    Today’s children are tomorrow’s tax payers.

  36. January 27, 2009 at 18:55

    Well said, Venessa. Brovo!

    It’s amazing to me how many unwanted children we have yet people who choose to have fertility treatment and can’t handle the financial burden get to exploit their situation for financial gain. it is irresponsible!

  37. 38 Elise
    January 27, 2009 at 18:57

    To the caller who objects to paying taxes for schools, when he has no children of his own: education of all children is a benefit to society, of which you are a part. I would argue it is a benefit to you, as well, and therefore worthwhile of your tax dollars. Imagine living in a society where so many children are uneducated.

  38. 39 Jennifer
    January 27, 2009 at 19:00

    Fertility treatments to me are a selfish endeavor, especially with the cost of them being so high. There are many children that need homes via adoption which makes fertility treatment look like a rich person’s way to have kids.

    As for the 8 new babies, congratulations and good luck. I think that we should support each other in our society and that might look like helping poor people who have not used fertility treatments to government aid, then so be it. But that’s a double edged sword because having kids to achieve more aid is also a terrible thing to do. But, accidents happen and so it’s important to understand that there is no one set of rules that can apply to everyone.

  39. 40 Michelle
    January 27, 2009 at 20:12

    I don’t think anyone sets out to have 8 kids at once. I believe that if there are drugs to help persons experience the joy of having their own children, why not give it a try. I know there are children in need of adoption, but deep down most persons want to experience having at least one of their own. Individuals who alreaduy have children and can afford it, can adopt also. The only option would have been to abort some of them. Would we happier with that choice? And how would we react if word got out and the headlines read woman aborts 6 featuses!

  40. 41 cyprian muthama kenya
    January 28, 2009 at 06:43

    if my father used family planning i could not have been existed im 8th im a family of 9
    I wish it was here in kenya we just love big families i’ll make sure i have five or six i wish they could have been mine.its fun when you meet all of you celebrate.
    cyprian kenya

  41. January 28, 2009 at 10:20

    now truly this stands fact that indeed they have been lavished with a “bundle of joy” about how they are to manage with this on going recession let GOD be there providence

  42. 43 osuagwu charles
    January 28, 2009 at 12:03

    Multiple births is a blessing. Being a blessing does not preclude obligations. Both my perternal and mertenal lines have been getting twins. my mothers brother had three sets of twins,my fathers sister had one set, my perternal cousin had oneand i had twin boys though one died due to a medical malpractice in Nigeria. Personally I love multiple births.

  43. 44 Ogola Benard
    January 28, 2009 at 14:58

    surely parents who give birth to multiple children should be given dear help and assistance from government as soon as they give birth – In african countries , some community help if often extended depending on the family financial status but even that social interaction and guidance helps a great deal! Its really a tough job for a woman!

  44. January 29, 2009 at 17:42

    Congrats to the parents of the new born babies…
    ~Dennis Junior~

  45. January 29, 2009 at 18:26

    I have been watching the coverage of this beautiful story from California…I hope that the parents get enough resources….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  46. January 30, 2009 at 16:48

    it’s pretty amazing that all eight of those babies survived the birthing process

  47. January 31, 2009 at 08:39

    In America the general idea is to be self-sufficient, be let alone, and in turn not burden others with your life issues. There is little chance of that in this situation. The father would have to have some very lucrative employment to achieve that condition. It is hard to engender a desire to help your neighbor when he is so obviously merely trying to outbreed you whilst expecting you to pay for it. As to the joy expressed by the African contingent over huge families, this practice has not served you too well in the last 150 years. You live on perhaps the richest continent in the world and yet have little control over your day-to-day existence, largely due to resources being spread too thin. A high population density requires a fairly technological resource base to maintain in a healthy condition. Even Chinese farmers of the last century stopped at 2-3 children, as history had taught them that it was unreasonable to expect to raise and educate more. 500 years ago in Africa a high reproduction rate was probably essential to compensate for natural and human caused attrittion. But todays hundreds of millions of people living in abject poverty is an invitation to biologic disaster. There is no compelling reason to aspire to reproduce those living conditions here in America. Or Europe either. Sorry to be a wet blanket but with world population approaching 8 billion and climbing, multiple births are not a particular cause for celebration.

  48. 49 Maheen
    January 31, 2009 at 14:28

    Babies are a way that shows tht GOD is still not hopeless with us, humans…I am glad all ur babies are fine…i can truely understand being a mom tht its quite difficult but hopefully u guys will do well šŸ™‚ All the very best

  49. 50 Asif
    February 1, 2009 at 17:23

    Childern are really a blessing of God Many couples are deprived of this blessing But in this case eight childern wow A really God wealth i think.The parents must b so excited and especially Mother she will be very proud to give birth to octets .The govt should support them financially and medically because it would be very difficult for the couple to meet their childern needs as all of them are newly born and a newly born child needs extracare and medical facility.

  50. February 2, 2009 at 04:41

    ….And, in an increasingly crowded world, are multiple births a blessing or a burden?

    I think that having mulitple births is part a blessing and part of a burden to the already stretched system in most parts of the world….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  51. February 5, 2009 at 07:47

    According to me multiple births is not a blessing. It is a burden on tax payer. It also effect the premium of policies and the cost of health care. Most important thing is that it is dangerous for any woman who have multiple embryo.

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