We put off having children until we can offer them what we think is the world, and we sometimes abort them because we think we don’t have enough to give them.
But what do children really want and need?
I called my male therapist a chauvinist pig when he labeled my childlessness “a biological tragedy.” What seemed tragic was that it took me until my 40s to feel together enough to bear a child. By then it was too late. I feared God was saying: “I offered you the miracle of birth. You don’t get to choose when.”
She bought the line our culture serves. Wait until you are ready! I don’t think egg freezing is the answer, of course, but rather a more laid back approach to life. After all, her mother by her own admission truly had it all. And when you look, I see these role model women all around me. Five children, three children, seven children, and sitting up on a political panel at the top of their game, political commentators, think tankers, doctors, lawyers, speechwriters, etc.
PS. If you are not actually waiting for anything and can’t find a good man to settle down with, this article is not for you. I know plenty of people who don’t think waiting to try for children at 40 is the best plan they could possibly come up with. People–pro-life people, even–can be so insensitive. So. If you want to be married and try for kids and it hasn’t happened, go enjoy what is before you today, regardless of what that might be, planned or unplanned.
These are the shoes you don’t wear with kids in tow, but can wear without. See? Advantages on both sides.
It is hard to be a mom today. Not sure whether this is fun, silly or likely a bit of both.
As the slogan “my body, my choice” gets older and older, it is being refuted even more by science. But not the science you’re thinking of.
Robert Martone, a research scientist with extensive experience in drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases, has discovered very compelling evidence that shows the connection between mother and child to be much deeper than we may have thought.
Cells from her developing baby pass through the placenta during gestation and take up lodging throughout the mother’s body, particularly in the brain. They have all kinds of medical implications, from helping with tissue repair, to cancer prevention and auto-immune responses.
It is remarkable that it is so common for cells from one individual to integrate into the tissues of another distinct person. We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as singular autonomous individuals, and these foreign cells seem to belie that notion, and suggest that most people carry remnants of other individuals. As remarkable as this may be, stunning results from a new study show that cells from other individuals are also found in the brain.
Dr. Martone found that in women with many children, 60% of their brains were inhabited by male and female cells from their children.
These cells seem to be inter-generational, appearing in the pregnant mother from her own previous gestation in her mother’s womb, and from her past or present pregnancies. They also appeared in siblings and twins.
Microchimerism most commonly results from the exchange of cells across the placenta during pregnancy, however there is also evidence that cells may be transferred from mother to infant through nursing. In addition to exchange between mother and fetus, there may be exchange of cells between twins in utero, and there is also the possibility that cells from an older sibling residing in the mother may find their way back across the placenta to a younger sibling during the latter’s gestation. Women may have microchimeric cells both from their mother as well as from their own pregnancies, and there is even evidence for competition between cells from grandmother and infant within the mother.
It certainly gives new meaning to the notion that no man is an island, and that we are all, somehow, interconnected.
Many women do abort on the basis of what they consider to be a bad prenatal diagnosis. I know of one. Please think of them when you read this article, because they are highly likely to already be conflicted over their decision, and this is a very hard thing to read:
A report from Beth Daley at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting explores the story of a Rhode Island woman named Stacie Chapman, who very nearly terminated a much-wanted pregnancy at three months after a prenatal blood test called MaterniT21 predicted that her baby probably had Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, a serious chromosomal disorder that can lead to severe birth defects. (The median lifespan for a baby with Edwards is 15 days, and many die long before that.)
Chapman called her husband sobbing when she heard the news, then scheduled an abortion for the following day. Her doctor urged her to wait, and a follow-up test showed that her baby didn’t in fact have Edwards; her son Lincoln Samuel just turned 1 and is perfectly healthy.
Katha Pollitt in an article in which she sought input from pro-lifers. At the end she writes:
I wonder what answers pro-lifers would get if they asked similar questions of pro-choicers.”
The questions I’d have for pro-choicers would be (and from my experience, they are similarly reticent to compromise or dialogue):
Why are relationships a zero sum game to them?
Put differently, why can’t the mother and the child both thrive?
Are they resolutely confident that unwanted pregnancies always remain unwanted?
Are they resolutely confident that human life in the womb doesn’t have any cosmic significance?
If they had every assurance that the law would be kept out of it, would they campaign against abortion and increase support for women in all circumstances including pregnancy?
Since female biology includes the ability to get pregnant, why are they so down on that?
Can they see the point that pro-lifers make that access to abortion requires women to be like men?
Well those are some of my questions. I’d be glad to get non-snarky answers. Katha found that hard and to be sure, the snark goes both ways.
The cardinal tenet of the Contraceptive Regime is that The Pill safely sterilizes the sexual act. As a result of this belief, we accept the idea that we can have sex with anyone we want, without regard for potential consequences. We think we can have sex with a person who would be a disaster to parent with. And when the inevitable pregnancy actually occurs, we act surprised every time. Women are then faced with the choice of becoming a single mother, having an abortion or placing the baby for adoption. None of these choices is particularly good for the child, nor in the end, for the woman.
Any woman considering an abortion should read the quotes of these women who have been there and done it. They are heart-rending, tragic testimonies to the unexpected and often unconsidered long-term consequences of abortion. My heart goes out to these women and their families – so many of them were just never told the truth.
Abby Johnson, Founder of And Then There Were None:
One day in the car, my daughter (out of nowhere) asked if some day she would be able to see her siblings in Heaven. I asked her what she meant…honestly, hoping that she was not talking about my own two abortions. She said that she knew I had two abortions and she wanted to know if she would ever get to meet those babies because she said, “in my heart, I miss them.” I never knew I would pass that sort of heartbreak on to my children.
When I had my abortions, I never thought about how it would affect others. I didn’t think about my future children. I never thought about how I would have to explain my selfishness to them.
My abortions live in me, and unfortunately, they live in them. ”
Ashley Granger, Wife, mother, sonography student:
Now that my son is 4 years old, I sometimes look at his sweet face and wonder what features my other child would have had. I still have dreams about holding him or her and it makes me so deeply sad to think that I have robbed my son of a sibling. Why not just try and conceive a sibling for him today you may ask? Well, I would love to but my husband and I have been struggling with infertility for two and half years. I never once dreamed that I wouldn’t be able to conceive when I wanted to! Every night my sweet boy prays to God for a sibling and every time I hear those precious prayers my heart aches over what I did. Because in retrospect an abortion isn’t an easy fix or a solution to a problem….it is the problem, and it leaves a lasting effect on generations to come.
I just read another great article over at Brain, Child. The writer, Suzanne Palmieri, was a single mother, living in poverty with her daughter. In her article, she looks back over the last 20 years that they spent together, commenting on how their lives had changed.
Our life’s circumstances are seldom static and often changing. We don’t know what is just around the corner; beautiful things may be just beyond the bend. Or they may already be before us if we look closely. She did.
During the darker days, I read poems by Mary Oliver. One shining quote made the difference: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
My answer, then, now and always is this: I will not drown.