Tuesday, February 3, 2009
FROM NYPOST.COM : On a brisk Monday morning in January, 2-year-old twin boys Cooper and Harrison Goldberg cruise down Madison Avenue in the Mountain Buggy double-wide stroller, sleeping side by side in their matching button-downs. As their mom, Risa, 35, waits with them at a red light, a woman in her forties leans in for a closer look. "So cute," she chirps and, then whispering, she asks, "Who was your doctor?"
"If you have twins in Manhattan, it's assumed you had IVF," sighs Upper East Sider Risa, who co-founded Big City Moms, a social events group for new mothers. "Some people find it really offensive, others divulge every detail." Risa herself doesn't mind the question—for the record, her duo was conceived naturally. But many aren't, and twin rates in the U.S. have rocketed 70 percent since 1980. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, 47 percent of patients under 35 who had IVF at the NYU School of Medicine in 2006 were successful, and of those pregnancies, 33 percent resulted in twins.
Natalie Diaz, director of the Manhattan Twins Club, a nationwide nonprofit support group for mothers of multiples, says membership has more than doubled in the last three years to more than 900 women. "Our monthly pregnant moms meeting used to average four to five people. Now we attract close to 20."
But the multiples explosion isn't just a result of an uptick of in vitro fertilization—it's also a symptom of New York do-it-all power mommies looking to multitask and keep up with the Joneses (or, at least, Brangelina). And then there's the advantage of not going through another yo-yo weight gain and loss when you can meet your desired family quota with just one pregnancy. "I have my body back," says a Gramercy Park mom with 3-year-old twin girls (who asked to remain anonymous to protect her family's privacy). "And while my friends are bracing themselves for baby number two and all the sleep deprivation and chaos that comes with it, we are planning a family trip to Hawaii."
Another reason for the twin epidemic? New Yorkers are refusing to waste time trying to conceive naturally. In a city where women compete for everything from employment to engagements, fertility clinics—some with waiting lists of three months—are more packed than Balthazar at brunch. "I wanted my first kid by age 30 so I could have my second three years later. It never occurred to me that things wouldn't work out that way," says Erica Rosenfeld, 32, an Upper West Side stay-at-home mom who, pre-babies, worked as a publicist. She tried to conceive naturally with her husband for several months before seeking help. "[New Yorkers] are so used to instant gratification. We think, 'I can't wait any longer than six months.' So when six months is up, you're like, 'I gave it a good try, now let's make this happen.' " Two years and three rounds of IVF later, Erica was pregnant with twins Hannah and Jayden, now six months old. "I was thrilled. I thought, 'Now I have two kids, so if I never want to go through [IVF] again I don't have to.' "
And multiples are a status symbol, as evidenced by celebrity magazines—Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's twins, Knox and Vivienne, now six months old, reportedly garnered $14 million for their double-mint debut in People as opposed to the paltry $4 million that sister Shiloh scored. There's no shortage of tabloid love for Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's duo of Max and Emme, 11 months (People paid an estimated $6 million for their first photo shoot). And Marcia Cross wasn't even really a paparazzi target before the birth of Eden and Savannah, 23 months.
"There is an inordinate number of moms in Manhattan who view their children as an accessory and I can see how maybe having two at once might seem more indulgent to them," says Brinton Taylor Parson of IvyWise Kids, an organization that preps children for school admissions. "There are some people who believe children are to be had like other materials you acquire, like a house or a husband." And at a time when every market, from real estate to stocks, is plummeting, growing a larger family (especially through IVF, which can cost upwards of $25,000) is a conspicuous sign of wealth: a need for a classic eight instead of a classic six, two baby nurses, double the tuition at Dalton, twice as many Bonpoint dresses to buy.
Jennifer Gilbert, 40, founder of event company Save the Date, admits she did IVF hoping for twins. "I wanted three kids," says the Tribeca mom, whose daughter Blaise, 4, was conceived via IVF. "My husband wanted two. So when we used IVF to try for a second child, I was thrilled when I found out we were pregnant with twins. It's two for the price of one." She's now a mother of 1-year-old boys, Saxton and Grey. "I have friends who go through IVF praying that two will take. It's an expensive, emotional process so it makes sense that people want it over with."
Dr. Jamie Grifo, NYU Fertility Center program director, notes that "the natural twin rate is 2 percent. When you start using things like [the fertility drug] Clomid it's 8 percent and when you start doing IVF it's 10 to 20 percent." He adds, "A lot of people come to my office wanting twins but that's not really our goal." Twin pregnancies bring more complications than singletons and Dr. Grifo, like many reproductive specialists, recommends single embryo transfers to his young (under 35) patients but he admits it's not an easy sell. "It's hard to convince someone who wants twins to put in only one embryo," he says.
But for Caroline, 37, a stay-at-home Upper East Side mom who is trying to get her twin boys into a Manhattan preschool (and asked that her last name be withheld to avoid any admissions repercussions), having twins isn't all double the fun. "I can't sleep," she says after applying to 11 schools and hearing nothing. "I grew up here, I went to private school here, I have connections. But with twins, especially same sex twins, it's insanely competitive. Who is going to let me take up two spots? If I hear one more of my friends with one kid complain about the application process, I am going to lose my mind!" (Brinton says Caroline's problem is common because "schools will either accept both children or neither.")
Yet some moms couldn't imagine it any other way. "For people who like attention, twins are great," says Risa. "If I am ever depressed, I put my boys in the stroller and take a walk down the street and people just go nuts." And the fact that they are identical has been lucrative: Her sons were recently cast on the soap opera Guiding Light. "Because of the labor laws, children can only work a certain number of hours, so identical twins are in such high demand," she says. Risa adds that the social capital is great, too—she's been accepted into an "exclusive society of twin moms who only want to hang out with other twin moms. It can feel elitist. But they get it in a way that someone with one kid will never understand."
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