Aug 23, 2009

Party of Nine...

Ohio's first and only sextuplets live in my hometown, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I am so impressed with this family that I want to tell you about them, in case you don't already know. I don't know them personally, but I have heard their mother, Jennifer Hanselman, speak at a local library, and I have a signed copy of her first book, Party of Nine (Saddlepoint Publishing, Hudson, Ohio, 2006). I see from her website that there is a second book out now, and I can't wait to read it.

Jennifer Hanselman, her husband, Keith, their older son, Conner, and the sextuplets, Isabella, Sophia, Kyle, Logan, Alex, and Lucy, live in a normal looking house in a normal looking neighborhood. As far as I know, they don't have a TV reality show, body guards, or crooked little playhouses for each kid in their backyard.

Jennifer Hanselman has an amazing sense of humor when she shares her story through her talks and writings. I laugh out loud hysterically every time I read them.

One time my sister called me from her cell phone, laughing hysterically herself. She said she was in the parking lot at Wal*Mart watching "that family with all those kids" trying to get them into their van. While perhaps the Hanselman family didn't think the outing was so much fun, well, they'll have more perspective in about 20 years!

Seriously, I am so grateful for the witness of this family. They are Christians who sought fertility assistance so they could have a couple children. The first go-around resulted in their older son, Conner. Eighteen months later, they decided they wanted to try for another child. Using every available financial asset they had, they went for the same expensive treatments again. When the ultrasound showed six heartbeats, Jennifer's first reaction was something like "I don't want to be a headline!"

Her doctor used every persuasive argument to try to get the Hanselman's to use a procedure known as "selective reduction", where they would terminate the lives of three or four of the babies by injecting poison into their little beating hearts. Certainly there were very real risks for both mother and babies, and the doctor constantly put pressure on these parents not to try to carry all six babies.

Jennifer says, "The fertility doctor was very angry when I told him we were going for it, all or nothing. He increased the pressure at every visit, telling us more and more about the horrible things we could expect, but my heart told me to be strong and trust God. We prayed and tried to resign ourselves to whatever God had in store for us. We would keep as many as we were given, no matter what condition they were in." (Party of Nine, page 10) They ended up transferring to a different high-risk obstetrician who promised to do everything within his power to give all concerned the best chance possible.

All six babies were born safely by C-Section within the same minute at 28 weeks, weighing between 1# 9 oz. and 2# 10 oz. All were able to come home from the hospital over the course of three weeks. The Hanselman's were grateful for 70 regular volunteers they had from their church and community who gave them round-the-clock help in feeding and caring for the babies. Jennifer says, "One thing we never got accustomed to was the outpouring of support from all over the world. It especially touched us deeply that our community cared so much about our family and gave so many gifts and donations to help us provide for them." and "We tried to be as open as possible about our kids, hoping to share the joy of them with the thousands of people who had prayed for their safe delivery." (both quotes from Party of Nine, page 12)

I hope you will have a couple minutes to take a look at the website where you will find some pictures, and also give praise to the Lord for His goodness and mercy extended to this family. And if you need some good humor in your life, order the books...guaranteed you won't be disappointed!


They call me Deb said...

As a staunch "pro-lifer" I absolutely love stories like these.
Which of these children (in the name of medicine) would that Doctor have chosen to 'selectively reduce' (isn't that such an aesthetic term...)? Would he have chosen the 'weaker' of the bunch? Don't we all have our weaknesses - even after we leave the womb?
Who are any of us to choose who's to live and who's to die?
I will definitely check out their website.
Thank you so much for sharing, and may God continue to bless this "party of nine"!

Jacquelyn said...

I know...sometimes I just drive by their house and say a prayer for them! What is also so encouraging is the way the Church was the Church for them! (and continues to be I'm sure) and I'm using that term Church in the universal form, meaning Christ's Church! One of the boys has recently been diagnosed to have autism. They are dealing with it with God's help. I love your point about "we all have weaknesses, even after we leave the womb" AMEN to that!

Rose said...

"Selective reduction"! How is that for sanitizing the word "abortion"? Wow that makes me crazy. Praise God for people who realize that every life is precious and a gift from God. I shudder to think of all the plans God had for each child that was aborted and man in his infinite wisdom, said, "God we got a better plan than you." Who knows what we lost in each of those aborted babies. This family sounds so wonderful and it warms my heart to hear stories like this. Thank you for sharing.

Jacquelyn said...

Such a contrast from the Jon & Kate Gosselin family. My heart goes out to those innocent children whose family is being torn apart by greed and selfishness of the parents!

Jennifer Hanselman is careful not to name the fertility specialist who wanted to do the selective reduction, but he is well known in our area so everybody knows. Can you imagine how you would feel, you are pregnant with six babies, and your doctor, who you depend on to help you through this, is telling you that you MUST kill some of these babies or all kinds of terrible things will happen! I wonder how he feels now that the family is clearly managing and the children are thriving? God even has a plan for the one with autism. It will be interesting to follow them as they continue to grow up. The sextuplets are 5 1/2 now.