My Children: Future Hyperactive, Depressed, Binge-Drinkers

From 2003 until Isabella was conceived in late 2005, I was one of the six million or so Americans dealing with infertility.

After almost two years of trying, during which I had multiple Clomid and injectible cycles, it all came down to IVF, and at that point, I spent exactly zero minutes contemplating the safety of the procedure, the potential health risks to my potential future child (children?) who would be created in a dish, or the fact that my offspring would spend the early stages of embryonic development somewhere other than my very eager womb.

I wanted a baby (and then two years later, I wanted another one), and that? Was that.

And then recently I read this. Apparently, my IVF kids are headed down the road to disaster.

The headline is a bit misleading. It suggests that no really, your IVF kids are just as healthy as the ones created via mood lighting, silk sheets, and a little Barry White. It's only as you near the midway point of the article that you find out that children conceived via IVF are at an increased risk for ADHD, depression, and binge-drinking.

Interestingly, the reasons for these elevated risks are hard to pinpoint; however, one of the potential reasons given for this is that previously infertile parents are too overprotective of their IVF kids, which may hurt their social and emotional development.

This made me think of this recent post, and my contention that I would never in a million years let one of my kids stay unsupervised in the children's section of the library for five minutes. Despite my claim that I am not a helicopter parent, perhaps I am.

Rachel offered the European perspective on this issue (in a comment that for some reason isn't showing up). She's an American living abroad in a country where "stranger danger" simply does not exist. She's left her toddler in a stroller outdoors while she runs into a store or in a cafe while she uses the bathroom in the next store over. This is a routine practice there, and not something that would cause onlookers to grab their cell phones and quickly make a call to Child Protective Services.

I can't see myself doing these things (although I believe there is much we can learn from Europe about raising our kids) but based on some of your comments, perhaps I am in the minority. A friend last night who has actually heard Lenore Skenazy (author of Free Range Kids) speak sent me an email in which she mentioned that the constant 24-hour news cycle has changed how we view the world, but not the world itself. Perhaps the "lurking danger" some of us fear isn't really that great of a risk at all.

Infertility is an interesting beast. At times, it is the root cause of my mommy guilt over wanting to shelve all three of my kids next to the jars of peanut butter at the grocery store, and walk away. I wanted them so badly, paid a princely sum, and endured injections in my arse for months for the chance to be their mother, and yet their behavior is often so infuriating that it's all I can do to not put them on Craig's List.

But is infertility the reason why I am overprotective of my children (and as a result, will my kids end up with emotional and mental health issues because of it)?

That's what I'm pondering right now.

9 Responses to “My Children: Future Hyperactive, Depressed, Binge-Drinkers”

  1. # Blogger Melissa

    I'm not sure if I commented on your library post or not, but I would never leave Bridget (almost five) alone in one section of the library while I looked in another. I would be more inclined to do it with my 8 yr old, and definitely with my 10 yr old. And I can't imagine leaving my toddler parked outside a store in a stroller (that's just me!). I guess that makes me overprotective, too.

    There are some parents at Bridget's preschool who leave siblings in a running car while they run the preschooler inside - something I would never do. It only takes a minute for an accident to happen, be it hat the child climbs out of the carseat, puts the car in gear and drives into the road, or someone actually casing the joint and driving away with your car and kid (unlikely, but still possible).

    I guess you have to do what feels safe to you. And everyone has a different idea of "safe".  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    As someone who also suffered through years and years of infertility, I have really mixed feelings. I've always felt that maybe motherhood means a little more to me than a lot of people I know, although I attribute that as much to my particular history as to my infertility. And yet. I think there can be many reasons kids end up with problems. In the end, we all do the best we can and hope and pray that's good enough. After all, if I can look myself in the mirror and know I've done my best, that's a great feeling, if I know I could have done more, that's really hard to deal with.  

  3. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I'm not a scientist, but I wonder if part of our overprotectiveness comes with age. My parents got married young and had me when they were still young. I was 5 years older than them when I had my first child. We were watching videos of me as a baby the other day. They were doing things that I would never allow my kids to do at those ages, and I turned out fine. Maybe we're just more protective when we're older? It's just a thought.  

  4. # Blogger angela

    I didn't comment on the library post but at the time I thought that leaving a small child without parental supervision was rather inconsiderate of the mother. After all, the librarian or any other concerned parent who happens to be present, would not allow the 5 year old to harm herself.

    The European thing? Maybe it depends on the country but I don't think things are any different here in France than the States. I rarely see a child outside unsupervised.
    I also wonder how much the wide range of electronic games/tv programmes encourages children to stay indoors and many parents go along with that because it's easier for them...

    As a child I was encouraged to play outside because cleaning the house was a huge chore and, really, there was nothing much to do inside. We didn't have access to the toys that children have now. To be honest, if my mother knew some of the things we got up to including playing chicken on the railway line, she would probably never speak to me again. Looking back now it's a miracle we survived childhood.  

  5. # Anonymous Anonymous

    In response to the library post...I would absolutely never leave my kids unattended anywhere other than a school or organized group setting...quite possibly until they are about 13 or so. And yes, Angela, I agree with your comment about being inconsiderate. As I am always the mother very involved with my children when in public places - the pool, the gym, the playground, the library, etc., I CONSTANTLY find myself babysitting other's children while their parents do nothing mere feet away. The kids are drawn to my family unit as we are always having fun and these mothers don't care - they sit there and text, or use the computer at the library or read junk magazines...bitch at the gym staff when they are expected to be in the viewing area while their children participate in some sort of athletic activity b/c they assumed they could just drop their kids off to be someone else's responsibility while they jaunt on the treadmill and watch mindless TV for an hour... all the while completely ignoring their own kids. Am I ranting..YES!! I find it despicable that these people can't bother to watch their kids. I often wonder why they had kids when it is so obvious that they couldn't care less to spend time with them??!! It's not as though I want their ill-behaved children hanging around my kids! These are the kids that are going to be hyperactive (already are in an attempt to get attention of any sort), depressed, binge-drinkers!!  

  6. # Anonymous Mary

    I attended the talk by Lenore Skenazy and here was an interesting bit of information she shared: the crime rate today is lower, significantly lower, than it was 40 years ago. Acc. to research she's done, we are living in one of the safest times in history, and what has changed is our awareness of every violent crime that happens. We don't take into account that 24 hour news stream has changed our perception of the world to a far more dangerous place. The point, I think, was not that parents should be careless with their kids, but that our belief about the safety of the world is imprinted on them. And it's giving our kids the notion that the world is scary, dangerous and full of baby snatchers. The reality of this is that--still--the great majority of harm done to children comes at the hands of a trusted relative or friend.
    But Kristi, I think you are doing a wonderful job with Miss Isabella.  

  7. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    Hmmm... interesting to think about. I also wonder at the possibility that parents who find the means to pay for IVF multiple times may be of a higher income than the general norm of families. My thinking on that is that parents who have the ability to pay for IVF may also have the ability to pay for more psychological testing than parents of lesser means. I think that most kids (boys especially) can be diagnosed with a disorder of some sort at some point in their lives. You just need a psychologist that is willing to search and look long enough. (oooohhh!! Are my feelings on psychology shining through? I tried so hard to hide them...)

    ANYWAY. I'm just saying that the idea that your children may have a greater chance of having ADHD or psychological issues because of the IVF itself sounds off the wall to me. The helicopter parenting thing, however... Well. That may have a larger impact.

    The library with a 5 year old sounds kind of rude to me, too. If your daughter is young enough to need someone's attention to the fact that she IS alone, then she's too young. If you feel comfortable leaving her, then leave her. Do not ask an employee to help you out unless you are in an emergency situation of some sort.  

  8. # Blogger Jesser

    I have no experience with infertility, so I cannot speak to that, but looking from the outside, parents who have, do seem a bit more protective of their kids, which seems natural in some ways. And I honestly say that without judgement. You have to do what's right for you.

    Your comment about mommy guilt was interesting too. On vacation we had dinner with a couple of friends from college, one of whom (the guy) has very limited experience with children. The other one, a female teacher wanted to sit next to Ben, where Matt would normally sit to help out. Matt said AOK, but give Jess a hand ... which she did not, in any sense of the word. Sure he was cute to coo over, but help? Nah. And we were giving her crap about it because it was her choice. Then the guy made a really irritating comment, saying all us parents are so anxious to get the kids, etc. etc. and then we constantly try to pawn them off on the first sucker who happens along. It pissed me off mightily because A, I am extremely good about that and B, you have not been there. If it took me being with my kids 24/7 I would do it in a heartbeat, but if someone wants to help? you better believe I'm taking 'em up on it! I make a hell of a lot of moves as a parent knowing all these judging eyes are constantly watching. What the hell gives people the right?

    Sorry for the rant ... I'd blog about this, but, of course, they read the damned blog. ;)  

  9. # Blogger florencia

    I have no experience with infertility, so I cannot speak to that, but looking from the outside, parents who have, do seem a bit more protective of their kids, which seems natural in some ways.


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