Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

June 16, 2009

More Sad Life News

Yesterday Julian posted a story about a couple suing a pregnancy clinic for not disclosing that their child had Down Syndrome, saying they would have aborted the child.

Now I hear about a young woman who publicly struggled with the shock of her pregnancy, and begged readers of the NY Times parenting blog Motherlode for help with deciding what to do. She writes in her original email:
I’m a 22-year-old college graduate who is about to begin graduate studies at one of the most prestigious and difficult universities in the world. I’m looking at a February delivery — right in the middle of classwork — and by the time I finish my first year, I’ll have a 3-month old. When I start my second year, I’ll have a 6-month old and by the time I finish my program and start looking for a job, I’ll be a 24-year-old single mom...and I’m looking at a very lonely pregnancy.
The post garnered 672 comments, some blunt, others pleading, some sterile, others compassionate. Many urged her to consider adoption, reminding her that there are so many women who are unable to conceive at all. Ultimately (predictably?) she chose to abort the child.

I had two overwhelming feelings as I read this: compassion and frustration. I felt for her. I can't imagine what it would be like to be in that situation: a single woman about to take the next big important step in your life, and it turns out its not at all the step you planned on. I can't imagine being the girl calling her parents to tell her (though I think I can guess how my parents would react: shocked, but generous and supportive).

But I was also frustrated at the false dichotomy in the choice facing her. In her mind she either could have a child she didn't want because she only wants a child when she has a job, a man, better finances or she could not have the child. She did talk with an adoption counselor--so I'm not going to say she didn't consider that option--but even there she couldn't imagine herself giving up something she spends 9 months with and sacrifices so much for. There was no question of life (she even named the Zygote Ziggy--aren't we only supposed to name things when we know them). There was only a question of "do I want THIS life?" She said:
Once I came to the decision to terminate the pregnancy, so much of the guilt and sadness I’d been feeling melted away. I felt happy for the first time since finding out and I feel like my family is supportive of my decision. I’m focusing on the child I’ll have in a few years from now with someone I feel safe with and supported by. The life of that child will be infinitely better than this one and, sometimes, I wonder if such a miserable, lonely woman could even have a healthy child.
I have two things to say: you won't be lonely anymore, and there's only one way to find out if you're up to that challenge. Life is everything. EVERYTHING.

In making the decision she said: "I tend to do my best thinking in the kitchen and my life is currently lacking blueberry pie so I might discuss this matter with a rolling pin and some dough." It reminded me of the excellent film, Waitress where a pregnant Kerri Russel (with an abusive husband) spends most of her pregnancy hating the child, and making pies. The film is a joy. I won't spoil the ending, but I'll promise you it is not a glossy fairy-tale version of this impossible situation. It's rough, its dirty, and, like life, it's beautiful. I pray "Emmie" changes her mind. Because a child changes everything, and that's ok.


Julian said...

Thanks for the thorough post, Agatha. I get really upset when we start projecting things onto others. Many young women come to the defense of the "right" to choose by indicating that some women know that they cannot give their baby a good life, and so it's better for the baby's life to be taken. I just wonder though, if anyone escapes suffering no matter how well-intentioned the parents are, no matter how safe or healthy of an environment you grow up in. I have been so incredibly fortunate to have been raised in the circumstances that I have been raised in, but I wonder how many children would say that they would not even want the chance at a life in which they could improve their situation if born into an unfortunate and even dehumanizing one.

As a sidenote, the NYTimes needs to step up their blog quality. That Motherlode is a boatload of crap from the other articles I read.

Julian said...
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