Monday, June 20, 2005

The Other Cheek

Most of you know that I'm still struggling with Sarah's death. It was an incredibly painful and traumatic experience. Then on the other hand, I'm so grateful for having had her little shine as briefly as it did, and wouldn't want to have missed it.

I've been posting on a parenting after a loss group on a message board. Until recently it had been really wonderful and full of kindness and support. I was really honest about what we'd been through with Sarah because I didn't want any hostility or animosity making my participation in the group difficult. I was recieved with open arms.

Right after I joined, a woman who'd previously had a stillbirth gave birth to a Trisomy 18 baby. It was heartbreaking, but she was such a precious gift, that she seemed like this tiny, unlikely ray of hope. Against the odds, she's made it through the first month.

I noticed at first that the mother wouldn't address me, even when I addressed her directly. I thought it was odd, but being new to the group I dismissed it. Other moms began having babies, and the conversation turned to breast feeding.

Well, with formula companies sending samples, etc. and new moms scaring themselves and worrying themselves, I tried to be encouraging. I also wanted to point out that formula companies are there to make money, and often that means that mother's who CAN breastfeed don't. Generally, I tend to think, because they're fed so much mis-information and then handed "easy" formula.

Well, the T-18 mom got really upset. She pointed out that without formula her baby would be dead. I agree, she's exactly the kind of baby formula was designed for. I have another friend who because of her thyroid would have starved her babies to death if she hadn't switched them. More power to her!

My only concern is the healthy moms and babies who aren't necessarily getting accurate information from formula advertising. I tried really hard to make clear that I wasn't attacking any mothers, or even formula itself. Just the marketing practices of some formula companies. But I couldn't seem to get that across.

The T-18 mom in a number of her posts on the matter kept pointing out how "some people" would have terminated her daughter because she's terminal. The comments are quite obviously directed at me, and my thoughts were confirmed. She's not avoiding addressing me because she's quirky or even busy, but because she doesn't agree with my decision regarding Sarah.

Her comments have been pointed and unkind. And I've been thinking a lot about what to do. I have no desire to confront her about it, even to clear up the obvious hostility. She has so much on her plate, I can't add to it.

Eventually I've come to the realization that she's angry. This baby hasn't been what she expected, and many of her dreams (including the one to breastfeed) have been thrown out the window. She's frustrated. And I think perhaps she sees my decision regarding Sarah as equivalent to her having ended the pregnancy with her much loved baby girl. Honestly, if our diagnosis had been T-18, our decision would have been different, unless like with Sarah, there was increased risk to me. I would have loved to have known Sarah even briefly.

Anyway, I think she needs someone to be tangibly angry with. Someone she can fight against, much as I did when I was losing Sarah. If that someone has to be me, then so be it. I'll turn the other cheek and let her bruise it as well. I only hope that it helps.

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