If you are 40 or older you may remember knowing a set of twins while navigating your way through childhood and schooling years. They were unique. Usually they were identical. Discussions centered on how to “tell them apart.” Things are very different for today’s youth. A 2012 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) brief indicates a 76% increase in the (US) twin birth rate since Ronald Reagan took office. In 1980, 1 in 53 babies was a twin. In 2009, it was 1 in 30. And these statistics don’t account for the myriad multiple births beyond twins. My wife and I, for instance, have 12-year-old triplets. Somewhat astonishingly, out of the 230 students in our local public school 7th grade class, there are currently 11 sets of twins. This phenomenon—and the cultural dynamic it creates—strangely goes largely unmentioned.
The increase of multiples is primarily a result of restless advances in science bringing extraordinary options to couples whose chances of having children would have been, in previous generations, non-existent. We live in the age of medicine. Almost everything can be “fixed” with a medicinal remedy. Every set of physical or mental symptoms results in a named diagnosis and recommended form of pharmaceutical treatment. The seemingly limitless choices offered to patients and consumers makes a good subject for debate about what progress in medical care ultimately means for society. A rising birth rate among couples previously considered beyond their child-bearing years is perhaps as significant, for fiscal and societal reasons, as increased life expectancy. One thing is certain: these advances in medical science profoundly changed my life, and I’m hardly alone. In our particular case, we received a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Unexplained, of course, is just an irksome adjective. The main thing is infertility. It is a staggeringly painful diagnosis. And it is emotionally and financially costly. It can destroy relationships or make them uniquely and curiously stronger. We were, and are, extremely lucky to have emerged from the circumstances with three healthy children. Every parent sees his and her experience as unique, and no doubt each path and challenge is undeniably so. Parenting multiple children is truly a fascinating—and sometimes admittedly strange, humbling and alien—experience. We all live in a new world in so many ways; and we tend to think of technologies like those that Steve Jobs envisioned and created as being far-reaching and world-altering. And while they undoubtedly are on some level, those advances are nothing compared to looking at my triplet children and the miracle of their creation. As parents, we try our best to nurture independence and personal growth for these three similar yet actually very different children who provide meaning and the ultimate purpose of our lives. We also remain very large and loyal customers of Costco.
–written by Steven Fink, proud father of triplets and CEO of MessageBank, LLC, New York, NY