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Chat: Ali Mountfield

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interviewer: 60 Minutes presents a live interview with Ali Mountfield.

Interviewer: Welcome Ali :)

Ali Mountfield: Thanks for having me and I'm looking forward to the questions.

Interviewer: Lets get straight into our questions...

nicolbourn asks: Well done Ali, you showed what a joy multiples are, thank you

Ali Mountfield: Thank you, having multiples is an absolute joy and I'm proud to be a mother of triplets.

trudy84 asks: Do you think there is enough information provided before selective reduction is given as an option?

Ali Mountfield: I don't know that there is any information because my appointment came out of the blue for me. I didn't know about selective reduction and it wasn't a planned triplet pregnancy. For me I had the support of the Australian Multiple Birth Asscn and they were able to personalise it for me and make it real that there are other families who have successfully got through the pregnancy. While there are risks and not everyone makes it, I felt I could go forward with this.

thefaffer28 asks: Are IVF specialists allowed to agree to implant more than 1 embryo to a women and then if she falls pregnant give her the choice to terminate if she is lucky enough to have a multiple pregnancy?

Ali Mountfield: I'm not an IVF expert but from my understanding in Australia they don't implant more than two embryos because the success rate is so high now. We had two embryos implanted and one split, thus three babies.

dingogurl asks: I find this procedure more disturbing than abortion, why have multiple implanted with IVF only to kill the ones you don’t want?

Ali Mountfield: I think this is more than just about fertility, multiples happen naturally and I believe one of the ladies interviewed had a natural pregnancy. We took the risk of a twin pregnancy as we were struggling and we said we would embrace twins if two took. We ended up embracing three. I think of people are unsure about having more than one at a time they need to be careful about how many embryos they have.

nicolbourn asks: Ali - I understand that having 2 or 3 babies at once can be challenging but surely there is support out there for families

Ali Mountfield: Absolutely! I'm very lucky to be part of an absolutely thriving and supportive family with the Australian Multiple Birth Asscn - www.amba.org.au - The support and services we received when pregnant and in the early years have been invaluable to our family and I totally and utterly recommend families with twins or more, connect with their local MBA

joanna66 asks: I am an advocate for choice, women now have the right to terminate a pregancy legally, I do not see the difference between selective reduction and the right to terminate a pregnancy

Ali Mountfield: For me personally, I am not pro or anti-abortion, I think everyone has a right to choose. We were lucky that our pregnancy was able to be managed by a fantastic team and they felt they could manage the risks. There are families out there who for medical and other reasons need to make this choice and it is their choice as much as we all struggle to understand.

twinmum76 asks: Ali how did you cope with triplets? The other women talked of not being able to survive - what was your key to being so vibrant with gorgeous kids?

Ali Mountfield: Thank you. Vibrancy yay ! My story started with twins then we found the third baby and at that point we went "help". We had to change the way we live our life, we totally embraced our local MBA and listened to the advice we were given. One advice was to get volunteers into the house to help with the babies. We had a team of 10 volunteers when we got home and we still have 4 who are now part of our family. We stocked up on nappies and learned to say "yes" to hand-me-downs and basically embraced a new world.

kathy_4 asks: Congratulations on your choice. I don’t understand, why do people have so many eggs implanted if they don’t want that many children? You make that choice then and there......don’t screw with it.

Ali Mountfield: I totally agree, per my earlier response, in Australia I believe you can only have two embryo. I think in America the costs are so prohibitive that they put more embryos in to increase the chances of one hopefully taking.

Karen_Ryan asks: Ali how are you feeling after seeing that some women choose to have this terrible procedure?

Ali Mountfield: This has been a huge learning curve for me. My understanding of selective reduction was very limited including how the procedure was performed. I thought people only did that for medical reasons. To learn people are doing this for other reasons makes me sorry to hear about it but it is their choice.

krista asks: What advice would you give to a mother who find herself unexpectedly pregnant with triplets?

Ali Mountfield: Congratulations! Then contact you Australian Multiple Birth Asscn connect with the Higher order Multiples, ask for advice, stock up on nappies, get a bigger car and say yes to help. Then love and enjoy it.

brooke asks: why was this option suggested to you? did the doctors explain exactly what would happen?

Ali Mountfield: Triplet or more pregnancies are high risk, the option was raised to reduce the risk on me and the outcome of the pregnancy, i.e. the survival of the three babies.

Sanna asks: Ali, do you think there is enough support out there for women experiencing challenging pregnancies?

Ali Mountfield: In regards to support for multiple pregnancies there is the volunteer help via MBA but if the challenging pregnancy is a single pregnancy I'm not aware of help that is available. There are support organisations for premature babies and I think one of them is Miracle Babies and I think they might support challenging pregnancies along the way.

Josephine asks: Obviously as you said it wasn't a planned pregnancy so I am a little upset from the medical profession that they would make you consider to terminate any pregnancy in which they helped you with. My question is was having triplets going to be a health issue with you or your children?

Ali Mountfield: The statistics are against a higher order multiple pregnancy the chances of premature labour and all other pregnancy related complications are much higher than with a single or twin pregnancy. The first doctor who suggested it was doing his job and sent us for a second opinion to another doctor. He said if we were going to do the procedure we would need to go from three to one as two of our girls Hannah and Lucy were sharing a placenta and at risk of twin to twin transfusion syndrome. Therefore our risks were higher again. The doctor said he could manage our pregnancy and we are forever grateful.

peanuts asks: Our GP suggested we terminate one of our twins because of an unusual NT measurement at 13 weeks - do you think enough emphasis is placed on getting second opinions Ali? Thank goodness we got a second opinion from a professional as we now have two beautiful healthy baby boys.

Ali Mountfield: Congratulations on the boys. Scans are great but they can often be wrong. I am really grateful our doctor suggested a second opinion. My immediate reaction was no, I didn't know what to do after that once I left the surgery. The only avenue I had was that I was going to see someone else. So, for me I don't know if I'd have processed the thought to get a second opinion so I think it's good to promote. You know what, get a third or a fourth until you find someone you are comfortable with.

my_decision asks: I had a one year old when I was told I was expecting triplets (by IVF). I had 3 embyros implanted as I was told that as they were of a poor quality it was no point in having them implanted 1 or 2 at a time. Fortunately for me they all took. I must say I too was quite disgusted when I was told "selective reduction" before "congratulations"! I had a difficult pregnancy but delivered 3 very health happy babies. I look into their eyes now (7 yrs later) and am so thankful every day that they are here and how much better they make my life. I agree that more support needs to be given to HLM birth families. I found my MBA useless. I didn’t need to get together one Tuesday night a month over coffee to discuss our problems. I needed a cheap architect to extend the house, builders that would provide cheap labour and discounted nappies and formula. Definitely more support needs to be given to families expecting multiples, wouldn’t you agree?

Ali Mountfield: I totally agree with that. MBA's are run by volunteers they are not funded by Govt and are not sponsored by companies. Members pay membership and that is how they are run. I'm not sure about 7 years ago, but certainly the MBA's I know of now are vibrant communities and embrace social media, which provides opportunities for parents to ask questions of other and get support. So from Amber's Forum, Facebook groups and email, technology is bringing support into the home. Having said that MBA's need more support - volunteers,, sponsorship, funding and they need help with all sorts of things to keep running. Parents of multiples supporting parents of multiples.

sarah asks: Hi Ali, do you think we have more information available now on multiple pregnancy options than 5 years ago? By options I am thinking support service availability and marketing. Do doctors know enough to offer a balanced view? (in your experience through AMBA)

Ali Mountfield: I think in today's age with technology we are able to raise the awareness of the support and services offered by MBA's but they have to do it all themselves, through websites run by volunteers like me. To the brochures which are paid for by fundraising running barbeques and selling chocolates. I've dropped brochures off at doctors surgeries to let them know we exist. We have an annual convention where an Amber patron Dr Mark Umstad comes to talk to us every year and he is an advocate for working with multiple birth pregnancies and educating the medical profession and for that we are really grateful. There is definitely more than could be done.

flossyjane asks: It broke my heart to see that needle going into that foetus.. I call it a child because the minute I saw my daughter on the ultrasound screen I knew she was a tiny human and very viable. Surely with today’s technology they can implant exactly the number and if necessary sex of children desired?? I can be done by science but just maybe not by politics??

Ali Mountfield: I totally agree, they are babies to me as well and I actually struggle with my embryos that are on ice as to what their future holds. We can't have any more for personal reasons. Each case is unique and the clinics work with each case and make the best call they can at the time. As for choosing the gender of a child, I can't comment.

katinthehat asks: Ali, the interviewer said that you had the same risks as any triplet pregnancy. How did you choose to go ahead with all three? What do you think would have made you choose to selectively reduce? Or was it not discussed as a "serious medical risk?"

Ali Mountfield: The risks were discussed and the risks were very scary. I couldn't contemplate the procedure, I didn't even ask how it was done. I had to accept the risks and I'm part of a strong Higher Order Multiple community and we celebrate and we grieve with each other as nature takes it's course. I think if when we had our second opinion if the prognosis for me or the outcome for all babies was not good, we may have entered into further discussions and I know families have had to do that and live with their decisions. I am just blessed I was healthy all the way through and we brought home three well babies from the hospital.

twinsmum asks: I was pregnant with triplets, totally unplanned. Our youngest at the time was 14. Of course we were in shock, but thrilled at the same time. Unfortunately we lost one baby in the 1st trimester. Our girls just turned 16 and I still think about the little one we lost. One of my daughters said to me as the show aired, " what do they say to the survivors when they grow up?" I wouldn’t want that conversation with a teenager. I couldn't make that decision based on lifestyle choice. Ali I saw the emotion in you when that awful ultra sound was shown. I know my girls share a "twin" bond, do your triplets have that special knowing look and interactions with each other?

Ali Mountfield: My children are blessed that they have playmates of the same age and they share a beautiful relationship. Our girls are especially close but Oscar is very much a part of the trio. They are incredibly different children but they love and care for each other.

my_decision asks: Hi Ali, I was also told that 9/10 relationships fail because of higher level multiple births. I almost felt I was being talked into a selective reduction. Thankfully my husband and I are still together 7 1/2 years later, how is your relationship with your partner?

Ali Mountfield: There are statistics out there that suggest parents of multiples are more likely to divorce, but there are some statistics that suggest we are more united. My husband and I have a great relationship. In any relationship there are times when it's hard work and having 3 children all the same age would add pressure but we don't know any different. We adore our life and embrace the joys of our multiples.

krista asks: Do you think that if there was more support for multiple birth families- (financial assistance, home help, access to services etc) that fewer families would choose selective reduction?

Ali Mountfield: If there was more support I think it would be fabulous, just generally for families with multiples life would be easier. With regard to selective reduction, financially it's a huge burden on families to have more than one at a time but I don't think that is the only reason they would chose to go ahead with the procedure.

Madeline asks: Congratulations on your happy healthy kids, they are beautiful :) If you happened to be in a situation where you had a significantly lower income or single parent, would things have been different for you? Would you at all have considered selective termination? If you knew you wouldn’t be able to financially support all three, would you have done anything differently? xo

Ali Mountfield: No, finances would never come into my consideration. We were blessed with these babies and I seriously don't know if I could have made that decision even for medical reasons. To me, my choice was to go ahead and I never wavered and I don't think money would have changed my mind, it may have been tough but I'd never have done it for financial reasons.

dani asks: Hi Ali, I know you must be such a busy mum, thank you for sharing your story you showed what courage women have in the face of hardship, can I ask how you react to those who have gone ahead and selected one or more of their babies to die?

Ali Mountfield: I feel for them. I felt a bit numb watching the show tonight and hearing about those other mums. They made a choice which we may not agree with but it was their choice. I feel for those who need to make a choice like that it must be incredibly hard.

Interviewer: Ali, thankyou so much for joining us tonight. We have had an overwhelming number of thankyou's, for you and telling your story. Do you have any last minute comments before we conclude this evening?

Ali Mountfield: Thank you, it's been great to be a part of all this. For families going through high risk multiple pregnancies I totally recommend they connect with others and find out the statistics that show there are successful pregnancies. My children are a great joy to us and it was fabulous to be able to share them with you tonight. Thank you for having me.

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Ali Mountfield, Sunday May 20, 2012.

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