Life without kids is inconceivable to some, but the results can be challenging, too
When you tell Beth Goodman‘s story in broad strokes – as Dr. Laura, Bill O’Reilly and Oprah Winfrey have done – it’s easy to pass judgment.
Even Goodman admitted, “I can understand … if you present this … should a single woman who can’t afford to take care of all four babies be allowed to go to a sperm bank and get pregnant with quadruplets, … the logical mind says no. I mean that makes no sense.”
But a closer look at Goodman’s journey into motherhood offers a more complex story of a woman who – like many others – longed to have a baby, tried unsuccessfully for many years, and finally, with her 40th birthday approaching, turned to medical science in a last-ditch effort to answer the call of her biological clock.
“I had a good plan to raise one child as a single person,” said Goodman.
She had her schedule worked out so she would conceive and work through her busy summer and fall seasons as a floral designer.
One child I could take with me to a lot of flower-buying excursions. I could have the baby wrapped next to my body when I was doing floral design,” she said. “I knew that I would have to have help, day care during certain periods … but there was a lot of time that I would get to be alone with the child and I was very confident that this was something I could do.”
Even though Goodman had been through in vitro fertilization procedures in her 20s, when she was married, and was well aware such methods can lead to multiple births, she was not emotionally, physically or financially prepared for more than one baby.
“I had been very clear with the doctors from the beginning that selective reduction was not something I would consider and that multiples was not something I could do,” she said.
In fact, Goodman was so clearly insistent she didn’t want more than one baby that she went against the advice of her doctor, William Schoolcraft, a renowned fertility specialist she traveled to Colorado to work with. He recommended implanting four eggs, but Goodman was so worried about the possibility of having twins, she insisted he implant only three eggs, bringing her changes of conceiving down to 35 percent from about 60 percent.
“This was the last chance I felt I had, this was all the money, this was all the time, and I said, ‘You know, in my heart I just feel like three is the right number,'” said Goodman. “It was kind of an awkward moment really because this guy’s the best medical doctor and I am sort of indulging my gut feeling with going with three, but I did.”
While she was in Colorado receiving fertility treatments, Goodman unexpectedly fell in love with a man she felt sure was meant to be the father of her child.
“He would lay on my belly and talk to the eggs, the babies …whatever they were and we would tell them that we loved them all but that it would be very hard for us if all three of them were to stay. And that we would leave it up to them who would go and who would stay but we really were hoping to have a child and that we loved them all, but that you guys work it out.”
They worked it out all right.
Back in Santa Barbara and nine weeks pregnant, Goodman found out that not only had all three embryos implanted, but that one of her eggs had split. She was pregnant with quadruplets. Goodman was devastated. “I just cried,” she recalled.
Sitting in Dr. Alex Soffici’s office, staring at the four little heartbeats on her ultrasound, one of Goodman’s first thoughts was, “I know I don’t have what it takes to kill one of these babies. … I can’t call into being through my choices four lives and then decide oh, oops, this is really inconvenient for me. … We all just went into shock.”
Although she knew in her heart she wouldn’t do selective reduction, Goodman said she still talked to Soffici about it and learned that it was particularly risky because the twins shared a blood supply to some degree and they weren’t certain which ones were the twins.
“Who we thought were the twins were … Cason and Barrett, but we did not find out until all of them were born that Luke and Cason are the twins. So we would have made a mistake and Luke would be here today maybe handicapped,” she said. “With that risk and the risk of losing the whole pregnancy and everything, I just felt like I would not make that choice.”
Next she looked to adoption as the only other alternative to keeping all of the babies. Years before, she and her husband had been on the other side of the adoption equation, presenting themselves as potential adoptive parents, but the marriage broke up before they found a baby. This time, Goodman worked with an adoption attorney, Doug Donnelly, and narrowed her choice to a very wealthy family on the East Coast.
Her children would have been raised by two parents on a 500-acre horse farm, with a private plane, a sailboat, the opportunity to travel the world and grandparents on the premises to boot.
“I felt like I was being so selfish to keep them,” said Goodman.
Plus, most of her family was pressuring her to give some of the children up for adoption, with her ex-husband and many close friends also chiming in. But in her gut, Goodman said she knew that “adoption was not an option.” She envisioned a future when she would be back on her feet financially and sitting with two of her children wondering what the other two were doing.
“I thought, I’m going to prove to them that I love them enough to do this, and I’m going to prove to everyone that love is enough. Of course, it’s not; you have to have money to pay the bills. But the commitment to love, I really think is what brought the help that came. And I couldn’t have done it alone.”
While her boyfriend didn’t stick it out, many others did, including childhood friend Kathryn Kalionzes, who is now Goodman’s partner in a new line of customized children’s clothes that combines Kalionzes’ fashion background with Goodman’s floral designs. AlisaElaine will have its premiere trunk show Nov. 25-27. Check www.alisaelaine.com for further details.
With her parents and siblings in her corner and her finances starting to come back together, Goodman is planning a “gratitude party” as the quads get ready to celebrate their first birthday on Nov. 11.
Despite the challenges of raising quads, Goodman has managed to find time to journal their journey and hopes to publish a book.
A recent entry on her website, www.bethsbabies.com, reads: “As we approach the babies’ first birthday, all together as one, big, happy, healthy family, I know in my heart that I am just where I am supposed to be.”