Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Love And Cruelty

Tragedy brings out the best and worst in people. You see it all the time. There's an earthquake somewhere, and neighbors begin digging into the wreckage heedless of danger to rescue survivors. That is the best. Then there are those who would drown a man for his life vest in a boating accident. That is the worst. I'd love to say that it is only a few of us who carry the seed for cruelty. But I know that both of these tendencies are within all of us. What often surprises me is from whom these things come.

I have had people who don't pray, who have no religious tendencies offer me love and support. I've had people who wouldn't make the same decision I am offering me aid. I've had someone offer to make me a casket. I've had people offer to bring me food. I've had people donate money to help pay for our daughters funeral expenses, even when they only had a dollar to spare. I've had people coming from unlikely places to offer me whatever they can, seeing my pain, and I have been deeply moved.

Then I dealt with this woman. Any one who's been reading here for the last couple of days knows that I've gotten some rather pushy, sometimes unkind comments about why this is happening to me, or what I should be doing. But this woman absolutely takes the cake. She belongs to a local parenting group that I belong to on-line. I don't know her terribly well. She's a doula and studying to be a midwife. I could tell she didn't totally understand why we were making the decision we were instead of carrying to term. But she said that she wanted the birth of our daughter to be special, to be memorable, and she wanted to help. She offered her services as a doula free of charge.

I called a doula friend of mine to ask how a labor coach could help me during this kind of birth. She called her doula friends who consistently recommended that if I wanted one I should call the very woman who'd offered me her help. My friend was sure it was kismet. She was wrong.

As early as yesterday morning this woman was e-mailing me, encouraging me to take her up on her offer, telling me the many things she could do to help. When I finally agreed, thinking maybe it would be nice to have someone to help since I think my husband and are going to be in kind of a crappy place, she sent me another e-mail. This time she took back her offer, stating that she couldn't be a party to what I'm about to do. She wrote:

The third thing I feel very strongly that God wants me to share with you is
the fact that your baby is not dead and He's not done knitting her together
in your womb. If you go through with inducing your labor, you will deliver
a living child. And once she's out, you can't put her back. You will hold
her in your arms as her disbelieving and accusing eyes stare into yours.
You'll smell her sweet scent, and hear her gasping for breath, struggling to
stay with you (who she trusts and loves) while she writhes and dies. Is
this what you want for your beautiful child? To know that you had a choice
and this is the one you made?


By the time I was done, I was sobbing. What an incredibly vivid picture. Gone was the word from my doctor that my baby would probably be stillborn whenever I deliver her, even if I wait, and in it's place was that. There are three things that make this particularly cruel. 1) She offered me help. I didn't ask for it, she offered. 2) This offer was supposedly made because she's a Christian. I'm starting to remember why people turn away from God and the church, and it isn't Jesus' fault! 3) If by some chance my daughter is born alive, I will have to watch her die. But that wont be any different if I wait another 15 weeks, 15 years, or 15 minutes. And why someone would want to so horribly remind me of that, as if it's my fault, is beyond me.

I wrote her about a 3 line response while crying my eyes out. I asked her never to contact me again. My husband has already demanded that I leave that parenting group since it's the only place I'll ever have contact with her. Now, a woman with a heart would respect my request. This woman obviously doesn't have one. This is what she sent me next:

would it make any difference in your decision if I said we would adopt this child?

If you would carry it 15 more weeks at least, my husband and I will gladly adopt your baby, disabilities or not.

Huh? Is she NUTS?!? If our baby was disabled, we'd bring her home! If this was anything that she could live with, early induction wouldn't even be a question! I actually had to laugh! She obviously doesn't know me at all. My first response was:

apparently, you heartless witch, you don't understand. If she had
disabilities, we would bring her home! She's going to die no matter
when we deliver her. Please don't contact me again.

But then I kept thinking about it and got a wild hair (and since I can't shut up)and wrote:

I have to wonder, C---- A---, what kind of Christian you are? I
thought I made it perfectly clear that our daughter is terminal.
What's wrong with her is fatal. I could carry her for 20 years in my
belly and she can't live apart from me. Her brain is not formed
sufficiently to sustain life. No matter when I deliver her she will
die, which is one of the things that made your e-mail so cruel.


You obviously don't know me, either. If my daughter had Down's, if
she had a disability, if she were retarded, we would bring her home.
We love her so much. I would give anything to make her whole and
well, anything to give her life. It is simply not within my control.


So I have to give her to God. And because of my other children, we
have chosen the option that poses the least risk to me, and will allow
her to die with what we hope to be the least amount of pain.


For you to offer me help and then turn around and do what you have
done is unforgivable. I will be leaving the MN AP group because of
you, and hope to God I never have to see you on the street. I will
never understand a "Christian" woman being as heartless and unkind as
you have been. I never asked you for help, only asked for prayer.


You have taken probably the most painful thing in my life, and made it
worse. Jesus would be so proud. I can only assume that you are
simply lacking in basic mental capacities, as anyone with half a brain
wouldn't have said the ridiculous things you have.

That felt so good. You see the anger stage of grief comes at the oddest times, and while this woman had to deal with pretty much most of the anger that I had all stored up over this whole situation, she really asked for it to be unleashed on her.

This was not the most Christian response I could have come up with. I did leave out the fact that I wouldn't let her adopt my dog let alone my baby. Does that count in my favor?

I have forgiven her, now. I got it all out of my system, and asked God to give me strength to move forward remembering to put Him ahead of me at all times. My faith in Him has not been shaken by the best and worst in people. I think it is Him whom I cling to even harder. He never promised life would be easy, only that he would never leave us. And, praise Him, he hasn't.


1'A visitor' posted on the Thu 24 Feb 2005, 12:14 pm

"Thou shalt not KILL."Murder is a legal term. Kill is not.


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