Can You Slap A Pregnant Woman?

A co-worker of mine is pregnant. They got married at the end of August and the baby is due at the beginning of June. I don’t have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with, is this: the whole summer when she was planning her wedding, she kept venting to me and saying she wasn’t sure why she was going through with it. That she wasn’t even sure she wanted to marry him. She was angry and frustrated and questioning their relationship. And now she has been saying that she is regretting getting pregnant so quickly. That she wishes that she would have planned better, that she should have thought things through.

I hate the fact that she is pregnant already, but I hate even more that she is regretting having the baby. And I doubt that she actually regrets the baby, because she’s talked about being a mom for a while. I just feel like she’s rushed into this, which she admits, and is just setting up the baby for a rough life.  After losing Jamie, it just hurts so much to watch this unfold every day at work. To see someone regret the child growing inside them. Because it’s something we would not regret. She gets pregnant super easily and is now bringing a baby into an unsteady relationship, and Rob and I want a baby more than we can say and we have very little chance of having a baby. It just sucks. It makes me want to walk up to her and slap her for being so ungrateful. For not cherishing that little life inside of her. I would give almost anything to have Jamie back again, or to have another child, and she is complaining.

It makes me feel twisted and dark inside. Like I’m filling up with bitterness. And I know I should pray for her, for her situation to improve, and I am trying. I really am trying. Because I do want her to be happy, and I want so badly for that baby to have a good life, but I am so angry. I am so hurt. And oh Lord, I am so bitter.

Writing Submission for MEND

I belong to a support group called MEND, which helps families who have experienced the loss of a child. They put out a newsletter, and they take submissions from readers. The next newsletter is about Holidays, and that is something that really resonates with me, so I want to submit a piece.

It’s is a modified version of something I wrote last Christmas, and it means a lot to me. I hope it touches someone’s heart and helps them heal. Even if it doesn’t get published, I hope it helps someone here.

 

Today is Christmas, but it’s not how it is supposed to be.

You’re supposed to be here.

We were supposed to make cookies together, get to watch you unwrap presents, and take you to see Santa. We should have gotten to help you decorate the tree, hang up the stockings, and unwrap your presents. We were supposed to get to hear you laugh at all the Christmas fun and see your eyes light up at all the wonders you would be understanding for the first time. We were supposed to feel our hearts fill with love and joy when you ate the frosting and candy toppings while decorating cookies, when we helped you hold your candle at the Christmas Eve Service, and when we all snuggled up to read The Night Before Christmas together.

But that’s not how it is.

Because you’re not here.

Instead we try and hold it together when we see the kids at the mall, excited to see Santa. Kids that would be about the same age as you. Instead, we feel an ache in our heart because the traditions we wanted to share with you make us miss you even more. They just remind us that you’re not here.  Some days are easier, and some are so much worse, and so to cope with the holidays, we cling to each other. We tell each other that’s it’s okay to struggle, that Christmas never will be the same, but some years will be easier–maybe even almost ‘normal’–and this just happens to be a rough year. We know you are having a wonderful Christmas in Heaven, and it soothes our hearts to know you are there, but oh, we wish you were here. So we spend time together, just the two of us, because even though it’s been years, the loss of you still hurts as much as it did the day we lost you.

Because we never stop missing you.

What Do We Want?

Rob and I have been talking a lot since my realization and our talk at Steak n Shake.

Since we lost Jamie and stopped trying to conceive, we have wavered back and forth on whether or not we want to have kids. Do we adopt? Do we not have kids at all? At one point we were convinced we were going to adopt, and at another point were absolutely convinced we weren’t going to have kids at all. We just could never seem to make up our minds, or even truly know what we want.

And then we started talking about before we lost Jamie.

It wasn’t an accident that we got pregnant. We had been wanting to conceive for a year, and had taken steps (changing medicines, etc) for when we did. We had wanted a child for so long, and were so excited when we found out about Jamie.

But after we lost Jamie everything changed. Rob and I realized that we were both trying so hard to get pregnant right away because we wanted to make up for losing Jamie. We wanted to make it up to the other one because we felt like we let them down. Then, we ended up putting so much pressure on ourselves to get pregnant that we started creating all kinds of problems for ourselves. That’s when Rob’s intimacy problems really flared up. That’s when I had my major PTSD freak out. And we just kind of ran away from the idea of kids.

And now that we are both working through the truth of what happened as well as working through our issues, we are wondering if we do want kids. Were we running away from the idea of being parents because of all the trauma, or because we really don’t feel it is right for us? Everyone has told us that we will make wonderful parents, but we don’t feel that is a good reason to have kids. It needs to come from us. And we still don’t know. Rob wants to finish working through the issues he has just started addressing in therapy, and I want more time to absorb and process the new knowledge that I was a good mom, that I am a good mom to our angel baby.

I think I might want to be a mom again, but I’m not sure yet. I don’t know how to be sure.

I Was A Good Mom

For three years I have felt that I caused Jamie’s death.

Just take that in for a minute.

For three solid years, I felt that I had failed as a mom. It was my body, and it didn’t protect my child. I took medicine I shouldn’t have taken while I was pregnant. I didn’t take the partial bed-rest seriously enough. I was struggling with the idea of never being seen as myself any more, but just a baby-carrier. The reasons went on and on, and each one told me that it was my fault that Jamie died.

That I was responsible.

And I never mentioned it to Rob. I mean, in the hospital right after they told us, I remember saying through my tears that it was my fault, and he held my face in his hands and as the tears rolled down his face he told me it wasn’t, but deep in my heart I always believed it was: It was my fault.

But yesterday I started talking to Lori about it.

She tried to tell me all the platitudes. ‘No one is perfect’. ‘You didn’t know when you were pregnant when you took those medicines’. Blah, blah, blah. The things that people say that don’t really help. She told me that at least I can learn from what happened. (again, not helpful) And she said something that jumped out to me. “In the future you would know that if you are having unprotected sex you would make sure you aren’t taking certain medicine”.

And I just kind of stopped.

Because we weren’t being irresponsible. We were trying to have a child. I did change my medicines. I did check with the doctor about one of the medicines I took and she said it was okay until I got a positive pregnancy test. And at our first appointment after we found out we were expecting, we told her that I had accidentally taken the medicines they recommend not to take and she said it would be fine.

We asked.

When I told Lori that, she gave me this funny little look. Almost as if she was surprised she had to say it. “You were being a good mom”.

And since I talked to Lori yesterday, I kept remembering little things. That even though I didn’t like being on bed rest, I did it. I checked about the medicines. I changed what I ate and drank to be safe for the baby. I was reading the pregnancy books. We were cleaning out space for the baby supplies we were already getting. (For crying out loud, I gave away some books!) I called and got the insurance sorted out so our baby would have insurance the minute he/she would be born, and so that we could both have good coverage for the entire pregnancy, especially in case there were complications. And I called the doctor the second I started bleeding and insisted on being seen and being given an ultrasound. And when we heard that heartbeat I never felt happier or more relieved in my life.

I was a good mom. I did everything I could. I wanted to do more, I just didn’t have the chance. And for the first time since we lost Jamie, I truly feel like a mom who has lost a child, and not like a mom who has caused the death of her child.

To Parent or Not To Parent

One thing I’ve found is that so many people have children without even thinking about it. It’s just a given. It’s what you do: You get married, you have kids.

Sometimes not in that order, but I digress.

But the thing is, it shouldn’t be a given. We are sentient beings. We take the time to make decisions about everything in our lives, having children should be no different. We agonize over what college to go to, who to marry, what our careers should be, and yet we give very little thought to the question “Should I be a parent?”.

And it’s not simply a question of whether or not children should be a part of your future.

Should you adopt? Should you have biological children? Should you have children at all? There are so many different options. What should factor into your decision? Only you can answer that, but here are a few thoughts that I have come up with.

I personally believe that one factor should be based purely on you and your partner. It depends on your lifestyle, your hopes, your ambitions, your personalities and innumerable other things. This leads me to my first category.

1. People who should not be parents

This covers a multitude of reasons. Everything from “it’s not what I want to do with my life” to “I am not capable of raising a child”–which, let’s face it, can cover anything from health issues to selfishness to a toxic personality that could actually damage a child.

I think we all know people who fall into this first category, and many of them (sadly) have children, and the children are the ones who suffer the most. Taking the time to truly decide if you are meant to be a parent isn’t just for you, it’s for the potential children too.

And if–for whatever reason–someone decides that a child is not a part of their future, do not try to change their mind. Do not say ‘oh, well some day you will’. Do not judge them. It is their decision, not yours, and you have no idea what went into making it. Respect that.

Of course, there are people who a meant to be parents. I know so many wonderful people who are parents and so many wonderful people who are meant (and want) to be parents, but do not have children yet. This brings me to my next category.

2. People who should be parents and their genes are beneficial to the gene pool.

PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT, by any means, saying there should be rules and regulations for who should be allowed to reproduce based solely on their genes. This is not that kind of thought. In fact, I will use my husband and I as an example, and a true example at that.

My husband has bi-polar disorder, migraines, moderately severe sleep apnoea, and has a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. I have depression, anxiety, migraines, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, extremely poor vision and a family history of heart disease, bi-polar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke. We didn’t feel right saddling our child with that. Again, it is not about us. It is about the child.

Hundreds of years ago, I wouldn’t have lived into my reproductive years. I would have died from appendicitis at age 9. But instead, modern medicine saved me.I am beyond grateful that I live in a time and place where technology has given me the chance to reproduce (since I can’t on my own). But that same life-saving technology has eliminated natural selection. So we have to make that decision ourselves. It is irresponsible–not just for your child, but for future generations–to reproduce without considering whether or not your genes negatively impact the gene pool, and to what degree.

The next kind is related to the previous two categories and it is this:

3. People who should be parents but shouldn’t allow their genes to continue to affect the gene pool

Maybe there is a couple who should be parents, but they are carries for Huntington’s Disease. They would fall into this category. This is where options such as adoption come into play, although some people in this category do wind up in the first category because they feel it is what is right for them.

On the flip side of that there are also people who should not be parents but their genes would be beneficial to the gene pool. This does not, under any circumstances, mean they should have children just because they have good genes. That is never a good enough reason to bring a child into this world. I’m not including this as ‘main category’ simply because it is not a reason to have or not have children.

Children are a blessing, but not to everyone. And not everyone is a blessing to children. There are so many ways to make a family, and I feel that we have–as a society–been defining it too narrowly. We need to thoughtfully make these decisions for ourselves, not rely on the momentum from the past to make our decisions for us.