When IVF Couples Regret Conceiving Twins

They have a right to be disappointed—and afraid of the huge life change ahead of them

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When a Colorado couple underwent in vitro fertilization late last year in the hopes of conceiving a sister for their preschooler son, they were shocked when the wife became pregnant with twin boys. But instead of stifling their apprehensions, they went public with his-and-her rants on the parenting website Babble. Under the pseudonym Albert Garland, the husband wrote, “To say we’re excited would be an exaggeration. More truthfully, we’re pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful … As horrible as this might sound, we found ourselves wishing these twins away … This time around, we’re counting down — not like expected parents but like cancer patients with only months to live.”

“In my mind I had done nothing less than ruin our family,” the wife added. “The twins are coming fast, and I don’t feel a sense of joy … the new me is expecting the worst.”

Predictably, their Babble bitching sessions sparked an uproar, with readers contributing nearly 1,000 comments — many calling their views “disgusting” and “heartless” and writing that “they don’t deserve those babies.” There was the sense that these parents were inexcusably naive about IVF, a process that they should have known results in twins 20% to 30% of the time, and that the world of infertility was one in which any pregnancy, especially an IVF one, should be considered a blessing.

(MORE: Get Used to Embryo Adoption)

But the couple’s flair for the dramatic notwithstanding, their posts aren’t outrageous. They’re refreshing. This husband and wife had the courage to voice the true fears and worries that many parents think about but don’t feel welcome to express, much less post publicly for the world to see. They have a right to be disappointed, and perhaps the more they come to terms with that, the better they can get mentally prepared for the huge life change ahead of them.

In fact, once we learn a little more about the “Garlands,” their reactions seem wholly rational. The family lives in a one-bedroom apartment. After the birth of their son three years ago, the couple suffered through the baby’s horrendous colic (and ongoing sleep and behavior problems) and the mother’s postpartum depression. Then came a difficult twin pregnancy. “I can’t care for my son the way I used to: I can’t get on the floor, I can’t bend over, I can’t pick him up, I can’t run after him. The low iron and gestational diabetes only add to the fatigue … Now my husband is doing everything and running himself into the ground,” she writes. Did I mention that they live in a one-bedroom apartment?

Mr. and Mrs. Garland are legitimately concerned about how their minds, health and marriage will survive more upheaval. “My wife and I know better than to think that life with three children is going to be perfect … Our fear is not the new parent fear of the unknown. It’s the smart, informed fear of the known,” the father writes. He’s right to be nervous. Raising newborn twins is hard. Raising three boys under 5 is hard. Thankfully, amid all the online condemnation, some readers offered commiseration and tips to survive the shock.

The Garland twins are probably already here. (The father wrote his piece in April, when the boys were four months along, and the mother wrote hers in June, seven months into the pregnancy. Their posts enjoyed a new round of publicity this week.) So we don’t know the rest of the story. But we should congratulate their parents for their brutal honesty. They’ve opened the door for other parents-to-be, especially those who used IVF who could benefit from talking about their feelings, even the uglier ones. By being so bluntly realistic about it from the get-go, they’ll probably be more prepared than other couples who uncritically coo about their “bundles of joy” and then feel blindsided by the challenges they never saw coming.

SEE ALSO:  The Big Surprise of Martin Luther King’s Speech

103 comments
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Nica
Nica

If this was not the outcome they wanted, then it didn't have to be. They made a series of bad decisions and now are crying about it... WHAT? I can think of 10 people in my immediate circle that would be overjoyed to welcome twins. Shame on this couple on so many levels and shame on their RE if s/he didn't discuss all possible outcomes.

Speaking from my own experiences, I conceived my first through IVF and was blessed to have three wonderful cryopreserved embryos left after getting pregnant with my son. My husband and I knew we wanted a second, but were quite lukewarm on the idea of twins. We spoke to our RE (imagine that!) and he laid it out for us -- if we transferred 2 embryos, there was an approximate 30% chance of a twin pregnancy, far too high for us. On the other hand, I had a lesser chance of getting pregnant if we transferred 1 embryo and there was still an approximate 1% chance of that embryo dividing into identical twins. The whole scenario was complicated by the fact that I was not a good candidate for further IVF cycles and these three remaining embryos were our last chance without getting an egg donor involved, which is something neither of us wanted.

Though my RE did not think our decision to transfer the single embryo was the best, he respected our wishes. That single embryo is now our 2 year old son and our family is now complete. My husband and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. 

That said, if that single embryo had divided into identical twins, then they would also have been welcomed with great joy and open hearts! We wanted to minimize our chance of twins, but were well aware that there is ALWAYS a chance of multiple births - natural or assisted conception.

Hermione
Hermione

Why all the negativity from these parents?  Did somebody force them into conceiving twins through IVF?  It is ashame that these parents did not take the time to 'get real' with their feelings BEFORE conceiving.

victoria123
victoria123

I feel bad for those babies when they get older if they ever find out their parents didn't want both of them. I understand that they are struggling and having twins will be exceptionally difficult (I was a nanny for special needs twin preschool boys I know how hard it is) however they choose to undergo fertility treatments that have a pretty high chance of multiples. If they didn't have the ability and the resources to handle more than one baby they should have considered holding off  as painful as that may be. Now that they are now on their way/already there to having three children they should consider themselves grateful despite the challenges that they face many couples struggle and are unable to have any children and I am sure that plenty of them would happily trade lives with this young couple.


nicole.monday
nicole.monday

I'm all for refreshing honesty when it comes to parenting - people should be able to express their "darker" moments of parenthood (which everyone has). This might actually help prevent things from being bottled up and getting out of hand (No one can reach out and help if they don't know how dark it is). 

BUT, I don't quite understand it in this case. Why have IVF when they're in this difficult situation in the first place? That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Also the house situation doesn't quite add up: A one-bedroomed flat + 1 child already + another (never mind twins) = ?

IVF_MD
IVF_MD

Why didn't they opt to transfer a single embryo? The use of CGH screening and single embryo transfer can provide success rates of 50-60% with a risk of identical twins around 1% due to embryo splitting. The possibility of multiple births is an important part of the pre-IVF informed consent discussion. Were they listening?

francene
francene

If they are crammed into a one bedroom apartment and struggled the first time around when their baby proved colicky, what the heck were they thinking undergoing IVF??? These two are immature, self-absorbed, boutique baby seekers who want to be able to define and create every aspect of their lives so that it includes no inconvenience, discomfort or challenge.  Well, hey, guess what.....that aint life on this earth!  Now get over it, grow up and be the parents those boys deserve and need!

eugene1
eugene1

If they are physically struggling at the time of attempted IVF, perhaps they are not meant to be parents again so soon. IVF is wonderful and suppose to help potential loving parents who are unable to have babies for one reason or another. However, surely before they embark on their IVF journey, they have had received informed consent and are aware of all the potential outcomes including multiples and both boys and girls ? ? ?  What self-centred people they are to use IVF and wishing for a specific gender and number of babies (without any underlying medical indications and need) - "Hoping to conceive a sister for their pre-school son" ???  More like its for themselves and now they are upset it did not "turn out right". Feel sorry for the twins and the older child.

jbcaine
jbcaine

Shame on this couple for not being thankful for this double blessing!  I am a mother of twin boys that are now 7 years old!  I went through 3 years of fertility treatments and suffered multiple miscarriages before I successfully carried my babies!  99.9999999% of parents going through fertility treatments are thankful to get pregnant with twins!  If you are going through treatments, its because you have difficulty getting pregnant!  If this couple are already struggling, I don't understand why they chose to have another baby.  Especially knowing the high risk of multiples with fertility treatments!  The babies would be better off with parents that want BOTH of them!  There are so many parents that want babies and can't have them!  Sounds like 2 self-involved and thoughtless people that don't deserve to be parents. Thoroughly disgusted!!!

Parentingtip2go
Parentingtip2go

Congratulate them for their brutal honesty?  Not in a million years.  I read both stories, and there was nothing refreshing about either.  Two self serving bitter people bring innocent lives into the world and already at a disadvantage, of "not only did we want only one of you, but we wanted you to be a girl!"  So very sad for these precious little beings.

pop_cherry12
pop_cherry12

Wow... So irresponsible. They can still put their baby to adoption. There's a good chance they find much better parents than them. 

 

pendragon05
pendragon05

No sympathy from me. IVF is not natural and should be banned. If you cannot make babies naturally, then there is likely a very good reason for it.

omg
omg

Absolutely no sympathy from me.  As the person below stated, why would they have signed up for another single baby given their circumstances.  Maybe they are honest, but they ridiculous, they have no business taking further parenting on - it is hard - they know that, too bad if they got more they gambled for - hundreds of thousands would be grateful for any baby, and there's no doubt they were counseled and made aware of possible outcomes.  Ridiculous!  Also mentioned below, adoption would be a good result for these unappreciated babies.

Smiling1809
Smiling1809

They have a one bedroom and wanted 2 kids? What difference does one more make? making the choice to have 2 children in a one bedroom isn't exactly ideal. Maybe they could make the master into the kid's rooms and get a nice big loft bed for them in the living room?

SupermansWife410
SupermansWife410

My 30 year old husband (who was a cancer patient) would have given anything for these babies but unfortunately he died 3 months ago without ever knowing the joys of being a father

Bohemiantraveler
Bohemiantraveler

WIth the money they spent on IVF, they should have moved to a bigger apartment or a house. 

They do need to learn to be happy with those twins, or else PLEASE give them up for adoption.

betsywhy
betsywhy

Why on earth would you go through the process of IVF (and how could you afford it) if you live in a 1 bedroom apartment.  These people make me sick when there are so many others desperate for children.  Shame on them.  I pity their children.

marina56
marina56

How did they afford IVF if they can't afford more than a one bedroom apartment? And under what rock have they been living if they truly didn't know that IVF results in a high rate of multiple births? It seems to me that they wanted EXACTLY what they wanted - a little girl - and anything else was destined to be a disappointment. These people are too self absorbed and stupid to be decent parents to anyone.

sj4iy
sj4iy

I don't get why, if you live in a one bedroom apartment and say you don't have the room, you are doing IVF to have a second child.  Life throws unexpected curveballs to everyone...that's why it's called "Life" and not "Predictability".  My husband and I had a very nice living situation, and decided to have a child...after which, I became deathly ill and found out that the pregnancy and birth had caused two chronic diseases that I now have to live with everyday.  Guess what?  I manage it, and even had a second child.  I get more tired than I used to, and I'm not able to do everything I want to...but I love life, and I love my children, and if I had to give them up to be perfectly healthy again, I would never do it.

GraceGrace
GraceGrace

Why did they use ivf and wanted more kids if they weren't prepared? How selfish and STUPID. Poor kids.

blackcurry
blackcurry

What a selfish, thoughtless couple.  I have two beautiful granddaughters through in vitro fertilization.  My daughter had 3 eggs left.  When they thawed them out to implant them, the doctor only wanted to implant two.  The third one could not be refrozen.  My daughter told him to implant all 3 because the third one deserved a chance at life, too.  All three took.  It wasn't to be, and she lost one early on in the pregnancy.   These idiots need to know that there are no guarantees as to how many babies they will get.  They should shut their stupid, selfish mouths and thank their higher power for two beautiful children.

Precious
Precious

I can relate but I'm so thankful for my blessings...and I hope that all those who are trying to conceive are equally blessed


asosic54
asosic54

This is not an unusual story, Although  , start with they needed to move to a larger apartment no matter what, were does the 3 yr. old sleep. (lack of planning.) before getting pregnant they should of asked questions after questions about it ( ignorance). to bad she cannt bend and run. No pregnant women jumps hurddels  . sounds as if this couple are self absorbed. God bless them with 2 beautiful healthy babies. More than other parents can get in their life time. Love those babies.

okayfine
okayfine

I'm certain the parents weren't actually shocked at the violent reaction they received to their posts. How could they be? These days, people are not allowed to be honest if their opinions go against the flow. People want you to agree with them. In fact, they INSIST on it, no matter the topic. These parents were expressing an opinion that contradicts one of society's greatest myths: that parenthood is a blessing, no matter what, & they ought to be grateful. If one baby is amazing, two babies are twice as amazing. No ... matter ... the ... topic. When I moved across the country, locals in the destination town asked me incessantly in gushing anticipation, "Do you LIKE IT here?!" When I answered, "No, not at all. It is all so foreign to me and I can't get used to it", I was treated to a vast variety of angry responses, including, "So why don't you LEAVE?" & "Oh, well we can't all be from NEW YORK." But, then, I moved to FL, so what did I expect?

andi-70
andi-70

One definition of narcissism is a complete disregard of others in order to serve one’s own desires at any cost.How can two people write such terrible things about their children that suggest they don’t want them – things those children will find out some day?How can people in a one-bedroom apartment afford expensive IVF?Why would people in a one bedroom apartment go through such lengths to have children they have no room for and clearly have no compassion or empathy for.When these children are old enough to find out how these “parents” really feel about them they will turn on them like wild dogs.This is the most perverted story about narcissistic parents ever and deeply offensive to every real parent out here.

Jon.cook14
Jon.cook14

I get that when the twins come that they will most likely forget about the apprehension and love those boys to death, but its equally possible that the regret turns into resentment. This is a prime example of the progressive selfishness that exists in our society. They were told the risks when they paid thousands of dollars for the IVF procedure, but in their minds they wanted what they wanted and the risks didn't pertain to them. They find out its twins and they look at it like its not fair. If I could give one piece of advice to the parents it's to realize that these two boys will make their lives immensely better. Crowded house or not, their lives will be richer and more fulfilling because of those two boys. What's sad is that one day these boys will read this and find out they weren't wanted. If you really feel that way then put them up for adoption. Looking at it like its an inconvenience is disgusting.

KittyMurray
KittyMurray

They were not ready to have another child in a one bedroom apartment, let alone twins.  What were they thinking?  Common sense seems to have gone out the window nowadays.

Anyway, they can always opt for adopting the twins out, if they feel that strongly about it.  Better to have them go to a family that would really want them and give them a higher quality of life.

Cristina
Cristina

This story should clue us in on what is going on with gynecologists prematurely encouraging IVF in couples who are not infertile.  Here you have a couple who naturally conceived a child who is now 3.  Where did they get the idea that in order to have another one, they needed IVF?  Doctors push IVF because it is a money making opportunity.  (Just like they encourage unnecessary hysterectomies because they rely on the income.)  I've had several friends told they needed fertility treatments within a short time of not conceiving naturally.  One friend in her early 30s did a round of IVF.  It failed.  Less than 6 months later, while saving the money for a second round, she conceived naturally.  Five years later in her late 30s she wanted another child.  Assumed she'd do IVF.  Got pregnant naturally again before the appointment.  

EVERY GYNECOLOGIST with a financial interest in this tells women beginning at 30 that their fertility is plummeting by the day.  They must act now before its too late for IVF to work.  Patients seem  not to know that a viable naturally conceived pregnancy normally takes months or even a couple years.  The body intelligently rejects deformities in embryos before a woman even knows she's pregnant, so that most women have been pregnant 2 times before she realizes she's now pregnant (with the third one the body did not miscarry).  I have yet to know ONE woman who did IVF who was actually infertile.  Of the 5 or so I know, all were naturally fertile.  Two already had children but were afraid to try naturally for another for fear of wasting 2 years in their late 30s and age 40.  This health fraud has unintended consequences as this story illustrates.      

JeanLudvigsenBinder
JeanLudvigsenBinder

Worried about having a one bedroom apartment?  Where does the first child sleep?  Not to worry in any event...that is what LR day-beds are for.  Yes it is going to drastically change their life style, perhaps even their health, but unplanned children happen to MANY people.  You suck it up, create as healthy a life as you can for all, and usually find the unexpecteds are the joy of your lives.  A certain lifestyle is JUST not as important as relationships and a positive attitude can make all go reasonably well.

crazydancer9991
crazydancer9991

Just give the babies up for adoption to parents who will want them.  Then both families will live happily ever after.

lookwhostalking
lookwhostalking

The article appears to say the parents didn't realize they really could have multiple births from IVF which means there was a complete lack of communication between them and their IVF doctors. I expect they knew but chose to ignore that possibility.  And please do not throw in "we live in a one bedroom apartment" as an excuse.  Are they already sleeping in the living room since their child is in the bedroom?  Get a bigger place - if you can afford IVF ($20,000 to start) then you can afford a larger apartment. 

BSF1
BSF1

Questions: 1) How could they afford in vitro fertilazation if all they can afford is a one-bedroom apartment?  2) Why did they think this time around would be a girl,  just because they wanted one?  I suspect that was the greater disappointment, not the number of children.

NicoleMargarete
NicoleMargarete

I was in a serious relationship with my boyfriend LOUIS for five good years.. One day we were in a dinner party, we had a little misunderstanding, all this happen at the party because i was not able to give him a child. and he stood up and left me at the dinner party. i tried to call him but he was not picking my calls so after then i contacted my brother and told him about it, my brother so much love me that he had to see him on my behalf, he told my brother that it is over between us i sent many of my friends but he was still saying the same thing that there nothing between us again i did not know what to do again so i give up on him one faithful day i saw a friend of my who ask about my guy i told her what happen between both of us, because i can not give him a child that he is not happy with me and he does not want me again. i also let her know i still love him i will do anything to make him happy and come back to me again. my friend gave me a contact of a great man called Priest OBOM of solutiontemple220@gmail.com with the help of Priest OBOM i was able to give my husband a child, just like him always wanted

SupermansWife410
SupermansWife410

@pendragon05 My husband died 3 months...The ONLY way I can get pregnant with HIS baby is through IVF.

But why is it our responsibility to adopt "hard to place" children? Why don't you adopt one?

What if something were wrong with you? Would you not have treatment or even surgery to fix it?

jbcaine
jbcaine

@pendragon05  

Shame on you!  I tried for years to get pregnant!  Had multiple miscarriages and finally was blessed with my twin boys who are now 7 years old!  I went through fertility treatments multiple times!  Just because a persons body does not function properly, does not mean that they should not have children!  My boys are my life and I am thankful every day for them and the joy they bring to me and my husband and our family! I do not have sympathy for this couple complaining about getting pregnant with twins! They should not have taken the risk if they were unable to take on the double blessing that they have received!  Most parents going through fertility treatments are over-joyed to get pregnant, not regret it!  Shame on you for your comments towards people like me! And shame on this couple for their attitudes and comments!

SuperDad'sWife
SuperDad'sWife

@pendragon05 Whoa. That is an outrageous claim. You should be ashamed. My husband survived testicular cancer at the age of 21 and is now unable to have children. He is the kindest, most loving person I know and he adores children. Unbelievable. 

Smiling1809
Smiling1809

@Bohemiantraveler Maybe they should have learned to be happy with one. There are many plus sides. Having one isn't the end of the world for the child or parents. As they get older, it's particularly good.

okayfine
okayfine

@andi-70 How can someone draw so many conclusions w/ so much confidence w/o knowing the people involved? I think that's another definition of narcissism.

dmdezigns
dmdezigns

@Cristina obgyns don't do IVF, fertility specialists do.  Most OBs recommend waiting and trying for a set period based on your age before trying fertility and even then IVF is no the first procedure usually done.    Just because you naturally conceived your first child doesn't mean they were able to conceive now.  You don't know their age, or whether or not they tried to conceive naturally and failed.  I've never had a ob/gyn tell me about IVF.  I have had them tell me if I want children not to wait to late.  In my case, I waited to long and my eggs are no longer viable.   IVF will only work for me with a donor egg.  We adopted instead.  We had great advice from all the drs involved in my infertility.  I was 40 when we started.   I had all the tests.  We tried naturally.  You're right that for a healthy fertile couple with no issues having sex at the right time there's only about a 20% chance of conception in any given month.  My experience however doesn't match yours with regards to fertility treatment or obgyns.

Smiling1809
Smiling1809

@Cristina I had a friend who was so hot to have a kid, she lied abut how long they''d been trying so she could get Clomid. She had no problems, so no Clomid. Her husband had mild motility problems. Anyway, she ended up having 2 (one unplanned) with no intervention. 

I think that some of the problem is that people don't understand that getting pg takes some time for some couples. My husband and I had been trying for 18 months with no luck. I went to the doc and she did some tests on me. She said there was no way I could get PG on my own. I was going to start meds the next cycle. Guess what? About 14 days later I got a positive pregnancy test. My daughter is 10--almost 11. No drugs needed.

okayfine
okayfine

@crazydancer9991 I don't believe the parents said they wanted to dump the kids, just expressing fear in the hope that someone would understand & support & encourage, make their path easier. They were wrong.

pendragon05
pendragon05

jbcaine,  SuperDad'sWife sorry don't care what you think  - Nature has ways of controlling severe human overpopulation problems, and our KoolAide drinking baby rabid society isn't helping any. Why not adopt a child if you really love children? There are so many needy and hard to place children in this country while people think it was too important to have the "experience" of giving birth (that so-called "experience" is way overrated, too). Unfortunately, lusting for a child, as the "Garlands" did, often ends up in devastating consequences - usually for the child. Forget about unconditional love because it just does not exist. And I am known for calling out people on being liars any time they ever tell me they loved their parents unconditionally when they were children.

simplyadorable
simplyadorable

@pendragon05  Your logic is severely flawed. First and foremost, overpopulation has nothing to do with IVF. It's not the parents who are conceiving 2 kids who are contributing most abundantly to world's drastic population growth but people who are naturally fertile. As in, young uneducated teenagers who are popping out their 4th kid before they even hit 21. Then there are women with limited to no access to birth control in underdeveloped and developing countries, so your whole argument that it's somehow nature's way of keeping population in control is total BS. Not to mention, if you knew even the most basics about reproduction, you would know that nature favors genetic diversity over everything else. In other words, nature wants us to pop out as many kids as possible to increase genetic diversity over everything else... yes, even overpopulation! Second, the idea that somehow we should only grant those naturally capable of reproducing the right to do so, goes against everything we do as modern human beings. I'm assuming with that logic, you are also against any form of modern medicine or vaccinations because they actually save lives and lead to "overpopulation" right? And you're also for killing off babies born with any severe genetic abnormalities or life-threatening anomalies because we shouldn't give people who wouldn't be able to "naturally" survive a chance to do so, right? Where is the humanity in any of that? I can't change how you feel and I know that your foolish opinion will triumph over anything logical I have just said to you but I can at least hope that you will momentarily reconsider why your argument is so severely flawed before you go back into your shell of ignorance.