There was a 34-year old woman, let’s call her Y, who gave birth to a dead baby with Trisomy 13 yesterday. It is a congenital anomaly affecting 1/10,000 births and has a morbid prognosis since most end as stillbirths or die within the first year of life.
This is Y’s fourth pregnancy. Her first 2 children are ok, but the pregnancy before this one was also a Trisomy 13 stillbirth. I think she told me that she and her husband will still keep on trying because they want to have a girl. She is a vendor and her husband teaches Arabic. I don’t think pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is a practical option for them.
I was reading Book 3 of “50 Shades of Grey”, that scene where Anastasia tells Christian that she’s (ehem) pregnant; and he goes ballistic, saying, “Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?”
The thing is, I completely sympathize with Christian Grey. How could she fucking do it indeed? She was on a reliable form of contraception (Depo-Provera) and she forgot to take her shot. May I just add that Anastasia Steele is not one of my favorite heroines.
In fiction, the conception (or birth) of a new human being is considered a hopeful event. In real life, though, things are more ambiguous.
Kids do get messed up even when their parents did want them. Even in circumstances where the conception was hoped for and planned, a thousand and one things could go wrong — from pregnancy to delivery, to the raising of the child, and the way it grows to be an adult.
I read somewhere that parenting can be one of the most creative things a person (or two persons) can do. Maybe it’s right up there with writing a book or composing a song. However, books and songs don’t end up (even the worst of them) as messed up adults who are full of resentments against their progenitors. Also, books and songs (in general) don’t end up disrupting the lives of their creators.
One grapples with the question whether parenthood should be deemed as a right or privilege. And one is still stumped. Feminists, NGOs, government agencies, international aid organizations and the church have their opinions. The way they say it, you’d think that those opinions were carved in stone.
Contraceptives were invented so that people who do not want, or who are not ready, to be parents will not be so. However, humans being humans, do not take their contraceptives perfectly. And these devices do fail — a 0.05 failure rate may be nothing unless you become one of the 0.05. I don’t know if there were studies that show children grow up just as well whether they were a wanted/un-wanted or a planned/unplanned pregnancy.
Would people/parents be so honest to admit when their children are born that, really, they had the same expression as Christian Grey when they found that that kid was conceived? Would they admit that they didn’t want a child when the kid is already there? They (whoever they are) say that when one sees the cute baby gurgling and looking so innocent and cuddy, one can’t help but love it. Is that true, I wonder?
Maybe, as with all acts of creations, a great deal of narcissism comes with wanting to be a parent. Or choosing to be a parent, wanted or not. And a great deal of hopefulness too. Trisomy 13 or not.