Raising Children



Technology has made life better in so many ways, perhaps most especially in assisting many women who have trouble conceiving to eventually give birth to the children they so desperately want. And technological advances have especially helped those young people who've postponed their childbearing efforts till somewhat later in life. But who would have known that having these bundles of joy — and perfectly healthy ones, at that — would reek such havoc in their lives.

That was the major point, it seemed, of the June 12 New York magazine cover story titled "Gangs of New York." Those gangs weren't referring to the violent ones made up of kids from poor neighborhoods, but the multiple births that seem to be proliferating in upscale enclaves all over the city now that those who've waited to get pregnant seek out technological solutions. This outbreak of twins — and triplets — throughout Manhattan has begun exacting a high price from these parents, the article purports, a toll on the physical, marital and financial levels.

The article, the work of a couple, Sarah Bernard and Hugo Lindgren, who at the time were expecting their own set of twins, is an uneven blend of first-person reportage and straight objective journalism, usually in the form of loose statistics.

For example: "Like everyone else, we'd noticed the explosion in twins — who could miss those SUV-of-the-sidewalk strollers, with the parents asleep at the wheel? — and understood that fertility treatments were behind it. But that was about all we knew.

"The natural odds for twins, we learned, is one pair per 90 live births. But nature's rules no longer apply. The twinning rate has doubled nationally over the past two decades, owing mostly to IUI [intrauterine insemination] and IVF [in vitro fertilization], as well as the rising average age of pregnant women (the older you are, the more eggs you release). The city's Department of Health found that the wealthier Manhattan neighborhoods have rates as high as 8 percent."

Here's a sample of the observational material that the authors now and then dropped into this mostly confessional piece.

"The loose talk among parents of twins is that elite private schools don't like to admit multiples because it limits the donor pool (nobody has hard evidence of this). …

"Raising multiples in New York is extreme parenting on the major-league level. There isn't enough time, there isn't enough space, and even for people who otherwise seem fairly well off there isn't enough money. 'You're overwhelmed, but you've got to learn to let go," says [Miriam] Schneider. 'Your house will never be clean, the dishes will never be done. You see this?' — she picks up a stack of color Xeroxes — 'These are the holiday cards from 2001 we never mailed.' "

I know raising children can be difficult, and that twins are especially so, but come on! What all this sounds like is some new form of upscale, Manhattan kvetching. Really, get a life. Or better yet, live the one you've got. 



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