Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Motherhood. The Other Side. Chapter III.


Child abandonment occurs when a parent, guardian, or person in charge of a child either deserts a child without any regard for the child's physical health, safety or welfare and with the intention of wholly abandoning the child, or in some instances, fails to provide necessary care for a child living under their roof.

In a nutshell, abandonment happens when:
  •          Leaving an infant on a doorstep, in a trash can, or on the side of the road
  •          Being absent from the home for a period of time long enough to create substantial risk of harm to a child left in the home
  •     Leaving a child with another person without providing for the child’s support, and with no meaningful communication with the child or caregiver for a period specified by statute, usually three months
  •          Failing to maintain regular visitation with a child for a period of at least six months
  •          Making only token efforts to support and communicate with a child
  •          Refusing, or being unwilling, to provide supervision, care, and support for a child
  •          Failing to participate in a parenting plan or program designed to reunite the parent with the child
  •          Failing to respond to official notice of child protective or child custody proceedings

Abandonment Types
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System groups child abandonment with maltreatment and neglect. The caregiver's inability to give children necessary and age-appropriate care, even when the family has the resources and financial income to provide the care, qualifies as neglect under most state laws. The types of child neglect include physical, educational, medical and emotional or psychological. Failure to give children adequate food, shelter and the lack of proper supervision come under the category of physical neglect. Medical abandonment includes the neglect of important medical and mental health treatment. Adults unable or unwilling to see children receive an education can be charged with educational neglect under federal law. Emotional abandonment includes neglect of the child's basic emotional needs, failure to provide psychological services and allowing children to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Abandonment Causes
The causes for child abandonment are complex. Poverty, lack of education, cultural values and low levels of standard care for the community all contribute to abandonment. Mental and physical illness of either the child or parents occasionally lead to abandonment. Adults sometimes lack information or the education to identify medical problems, for example, and cultural differences lead some parents to fail to send children to school. Parents unable to care for themselves because of drug or alcohol abuse frequently also fail to care for children. Each type of child abandonment has specific reasons, but most cases of abandoned children involve the interaction between a number of causes. The common element in abandonment cases is the parent's personality and the lack of sound psychological and parenting development, according to childhood development researchers Jay Belsky and Joan Vondra.

Physical abandonment

Quoting Psychology Today, when children are raised with chronic loss, without the psychological or physical protection they need and certainly deserve, it is most natural for them to internalize incredible fear. Not receiving the necessary psychological or physical protection equals abandonment. And, living with repeated abandonment experiences creates toxic shame. Shame arises from the painful message implied in abandonment: "You are not important. You are not of value." This is the pain from which people need to heal.

For some children abandonment is primarily physical. Physical abandonment occurs when the physical conditions necessary for thriving have been replaced by:
  •          lack of appropriate supervision
  •          inadequate provision of nutrition and meals
  •          inadequate clothing, housing, heat, or shelter
  •          physical and/or sexual abuse
·        Children are totally dependent on caretakers to provide safety in their environment. When they do not, they grow up believing that the world is an unsafe place, that people are not to be trusted, and that they do not deserve positive attention and adequate care.
Emotional Abandonment
Although the child abandonment laws describe certain acts that constitutional non-physical abandonment of children, the truth is, emotional abandonment is subjective. Any act or failure to act that leaves a child feeling unwanted, discarded, or insecure may be considered emotional abandonment under the laws of child safety and welfare.

Experts in child psychology have found that, in a child’s eyes, abandonment is more about the parent’s absence and failure to communicate or take an active role in his life, than any financial considerations. Many children feel it is their fault, and experience feelings of low self worth and shame. Because emotional abandonment by a parent has the potential to cause a lifetime of issues for the child, it is taken very seriously by the courts.

Emotional abandonment occurs when parents do not provide the emotional conditions and the emotional environment necessary for healthy development. I like to define emotional abandonment as "occurring when a child has to hide a part of who he or she is in order to be accepted, or to not be rejected."

Having to hide a part of yourself means:
  •          it is not okay to make a mistake.
  •          it is not okay to show feelings, being told the way you feel is not true. "You have nothing to cry about and if you don't stop crying I will really give you something to cry about." "That really didn't hurt." "You have nothing to be angry about."
  •          it is not okay to have needs. Everyone else's needs appear to be more important than yours.
  •     it is not okay to have successes. Accomplishments are not acknowledged, are many times discounted.
Other acts of abandonment occur when:

  •         Children cannot live up to the expectations of their parents. These expectations are often unrealistic and not age-appropriate.
  •         Children are held responsible for other people's behavior. They may be consistently blamed for the actions and feelings of their parents.
  •         Disapproval toward children is aimed at their entire beings or identity rather than a particular behavior, such as telling a child he is worthless when he does not do his homework or she is never going to be a good athlete because she missed the final catch of the game.   
Many times abandonment issues are fused with distorted, confused, or undefined boundaries such as:

  •     When parents do not view children as separate beings with distinct boundaries
  •        When parents expect children to be extensions of themselves
  •     When parents are not willing to take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, but expect children to take responsibility for them
  •        When parents' self-esteem is derived through their child's behavior
  •     When children are treated as peers with no parent/child distinction

Abandonment plus distorted boundaries, at a time when children are developing their sense of worth, is the foundation for the belief in their own inadequacy and the central cause of their shame.

Abandonment experiences and boundary violations are in no way indictments of a child's innate goodness and value. Instead, they reveal the flawed thinking, false beliefs, and impaired behaviors of those who hurt them. Still, the wounds are struck deep in their young hearts and minds, and the very real pain can still be felt today. The causes of emotional injury need to be understood and accepted so they can heal. Until that occurs, the pain will stay with them, becoming a driving force in their adult lives.

Famous abandonment cases

Source: Wkipedia

The Osaka child abandonment case was a case of child abandonment involving two abandoned children in Osaka, Japan. It occurred in late June 2010 when Sanae Shimomura, a 23-year-old Japanese single mother in Osaka, sealed the door of her apartment shut, abandoning 3-year-old daughter Sakurako Hagi and 1-year-old son Kaede Hagi inside. Neighbors heard the children crying over many weeks until it suddenly subsided, but did not think anything more of this than simply children in a bad childhood phase. Since Shimomura did not come to work for several days, a colleague went to her place and noticed a strange smell beyond the door. When the police entered the apartment, they found the two children dead. Social workers had attempted to stop by the apartment several times over the course of the children's confinement, but never found anyone home. The apartment was in a lively, populated area, but nobody knew that the children were confined.
Shimamura was arrested on 30 July 2010. She was reported to have wanted free time for herself and was quoted as saying that she had grown "tired of feeding and bathing" her two children on her own.

Source: Seattle Times

Police said the stench of feces, human and cat urine and rotting food was overwhelming, causing one officer’s eyes to water.

Inside, the home was dirty and in “extreme disarray,” filled with dirty diapers, excrement, food wrappers, broken toys, dirty clothes and garbage, police wrote. The walls were covered by children’s drawings, the kitchen was blocked by a clothes dryer and some areas were so filled with bags that there was only a small path through the room, the affidavit says.

There was no heat and no food in the house, police said. Police said the 11-month-old baby was found locked in an upstairs room that was separate and unreachable by his siblings, and that the infant was barely responsive to touch. He had a core body temperature of 94 degrees and was undernourished and dehydrated, police said. Police said it was not known how long the children had been left alone.

In a statement released Wednesday, the state Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees CPS, said the children have since been placed in a foster home.

Cases of “obscure” boundaries and “curiosities” as per child abandonment.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press, article by Mike McIntyre

A Winnipeg woman who left her six-year-old child alone in a locked home for 90 minutes has been found not guilty of child abandonment.

The mother, who isn’t being named to protect the identity of the boy, learned her fate on Friday afternoon. Provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe said the woman clearly made a poor choice, but that doesn’t automatically make it criminal. "It was an unacceptable reason to leave a child alone. It was poor judgment," said Wiebe. But the judge said the mother clearly had "no fear" of her son being at risk, which is a key issue needed to prove the charge. "This was an active, bright young child left in a well-kept home with no evident or immediate danger," said Wiebe.

The facts of the case were not in dispute. The boy was home alone on a summer afternoon, surrounded by food, water and a television to keep him company. He suffered no harm. Police found the boy in the home, eating pudding and doing a puzzle while watching television. He appeared happy, court was told.

Police had been called when the boy’s father – who had recently ended the marriage with his wife – saw her driving alone. He called the house, where his son answered. The mother told police she had been "stressed" because she needed to pick up medication and see a couple of clients while working as a health-care aide. She had no family in Winnipeg and decided to leave her son for a short period of time to run a few errands.

Under the Criminal Code, the charge is met when a child under the age of 10 is left alone and has his or her "life or health endangered." And that's where the lines blur, with Crown and defence lawyers having different views of whether that subjective legal test has been met. "Even in a home environment, that child was endangered," prosecutor Nancy Fazenda argued last month. "There doesn't necessarily have to be a negative consequence."

The mother has lost care of her child, who is being raised by his father. The parents are separated, court was told. Child and Family Services is also involved in the case, and she hasn't seen the boy since her arrest more than 18 months ago. Fazenda argued another element of the charge has been satisfied by the fact the mother chose to leave the boy alone, rather than responding to an emergency that altered her plans. "There's no question it was a deliberate act, that she meant to leave the child," said Fazenda.

Journal of Medical Ethics by S. Giordano

It may be argued that egg and sperm donation is a form of child abandonment, this paper deals with people who either procreate or adopt a child with the aim of having and raising a child, not with people who donate or sell their gametes for others to have children. To donate gametes for others to have children amounts to allowing those people to have children whom they could not have otherwise, to provide others with the means to procreate, but does not amount to abandoning children. Child abandonment would happen if those who brought the child into being subsequently abandoned him or her.

Putting children up for adoption is also not a form of child abandonment, as we shall see in the section on unwanted babies. Clearly, my stance partly rests on the value I attach to intentions. Intentions (ie, what people want to do and the purposes for which they do what they do), as we shall see later, matter in these cases. Nobody can be forced to raise an unwanted child - but there are ways of delegating parental responsibility that are not criminal or ethically questionable. Intending to make a child with the aim of bringing a new person into the world seems to carry a stringent responsibility both towards the child and towards the person with whom the child is conceived.

Termination of Parental Rights

Parents have a constitutionally protected right to raise, protect, and educate their children. Such rights generally include physical custody of the child, the right to prevent adoption of a child, the right to educate and discipline the child, and the right to control and manage the minor child’s income and property. When parents fail to provide for the child’s welfare and safety, however, their rights to parent the child may be terminated by the court.

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I chose to put all these facts ahead of my own opinion because I have been quite taken aback by what I discovered when researching this topic. My ideas were very poor as was my imagination as to why people abandon children. Or the absolutely incredible reasons and ease with which they do it. As every one of you out there, I could sum up a short list of things that could make someone give up their kids.

Poverty, financial problems, depression, mental illnesses, utter feeling of being overwhelmed and in lack of family support and possible education, they run away from such a huge responsibility. From leaving kids in orphanages, in hospital beds right after giving birth to them, to throwing them in trash cans wrapped in garbage bags or leave them for dead in public toilets where they brought them to life, I could think of all these paranormal things that I’ve heard people do. I can’t understand it. I can’t even try to understand but I have read and know for a fact stuff like this happens. My mom has been a nurse for 35 years and is currently working in the maternity ward and she can come up with some disturbing stories.

And still. I mean a huge still. All these cases that I mostly knew of involved the aftermath of birth. I hardly ever thought that once you have about 2 to 4 or 5 kids that have already reached ages of ten, you can actually just get up and leave. I read an article where the father brought his 9 (NINE!!!) kids to a local hospital and left them there saying he has had enough and vanished. Just. Like. That. I am really really refraining myself from judgment into wondering how in the hell did he come up with 9 kids if you know you have no money and possibility of any other kind to raise them.

I want, I want to believe – and please tell me if I’m totally bulshiting myself on this one with unicorn fairy tale dreams! – that if a poor family who has had, let’s say 3 kids already, goes to a family planning facility and says, “listen, we are not the most educated, but we are honest people, make an honest living and 3 kids is already more than we can handle. We would like to control this.” And thus said, they would not be given any help. Like NO help at all. I doubt that. Ok. I am aware that perhaps in the farthest corners of the world where people struggle even for water, birth control seems 24th century light years away from any of their daily ordeals. But then again if we don’t provide them with this kind of assistance as well then we shouldn’t wonder why we see kids dying of starvation on the streets. By the time we intervene it is too late. Anyway. This stands for a different discussion because living conditions, education and so on in these areas do not help in the least to contain the numbers of homeless, sick, starving children or adults as a matter of fact.

Let’s just keep to the societies where help does exist. The cases I presented above. Those were women who knew exactly what was going on. I read about this one other woman living in Canada, who decided to leave on vacation for 7 days and left her two toddlers in the house alone with just a bottle for each. When she came back she found one of them dead, put him in a plastic bag and threw him out and then left for another 4 days back on vacation. Second one died and the landlord following the stench called the police. COME ON! Mental illness?! You’ve had these kids for a couple of years now! You just became mentally ill suddenly? You went in full depression mode and left on vacation? I am no councilor, but I thought depressed people harmed themselves, drew themselves from the world, but not on vacation! Or perhaps, she just blocked her motherhood away and suddenly decided she deserves this. But still. I don’t know, I can’t understand how you can just leave and rationally know there is no way in hell your kids will survive on their own!

On the other hand, abandonment legislation, covering such a delicate situation where abandonment stands for more issues than just one, can be quite tricky in untangling. That woman leaving her 10 year old with everything he needed to go pick up medication? I wouldn’t call it abandonment. Mom left me to go buy stuff many times. Of course there are knives and dangerous stuff in the bathroom to be ingested and windows to be opened and gas to be turned on in the stove. I never touched it. I was afraid ‘cause mom told me so many times how dangerous they all are and she also kept her promise and came back when she said she would so I always felt safe and stayed put. You can’t keep her from seeing her child for 18 months because of stuff like this!!!

If you have this kind of approach to a woman missing for an hour then what do you do about this one other case I read about where again the mother just left her 4 kids ages 4 to 15 for nine months! Her first born was killed by some friends of the second child and this second child helped bury his sister’s body. When police found them and placed them in social care she turned herself in. Her second child was also convicted of body abandonment but due to the circumstances he was put in a special juvenile facility. The mother, after serving two years in prison, came back and was granted custody of her two remaining kids. What the fuck!?! Really?!

And then. Ok. It never crossed my mind that someone would ever look at sperm/egg donation as child abandonment. And talking about putting kids for adoption as mentioned in Chapter II; now this is also child abandonment?! I secretly wonder how that man who proclaimed so much that a raped woman can give her child for adoption would react if I told him that she would be abandoning her child?! Haha. Figure this shit out now smarty pants!

This is the last Chapter of the Motherhood. The Other Side. Trilogy. And believe me I never expected it to be the sickest one. I read the articles, I read police archives and hospital staff statements. But I could not look at the pictures of babies found thrown away. It just made me throw up. Please make up your mind of what you want to do! Keep it, don’t keep it, have him, give him away for adoption or raise it. But do not abandon them this way! 

I never thought acts of cruelty such as this happened. None of the articles stated whether the mothers had been diagnosed with a mental illness or drug abuse or anything that would remotely justify their actions. From where I stand, they would be the only real reasons behind leaving your kids to die. It’s true. I will never be able to understand what someone goes through, even when asking for help and being provided none. I am sure there are many cases when society gives families in need the cold shoulder. But when you turn your back and leave and turn that key into the lock, after having raised, fed and rocked to sleep these kids for years, doesn’t it hurt you beyond reason, breaking through your ribs and ripping through your heart, to let them die? And even if you feel there is no way out and the world really goes that dark, would you prefer they die alone or with you? As captain to your family perhaps you should go down with the ship and the crew. I don’t wish to sound dramatic. It is a very very sad fact for me. For the kids and the parents and unfortunately I don’t hold the key to their problems. But is there really nothing that can be done?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Motherhood.The Other Side. Chapter II

        Abort(ion) mission!

Foreword: I wrote this a while ago when I ran into some pretty unpleasant reactions over abortion. If anyone reads Chapter I of this trilogy you’ll know I am as pro-baby as one can be. Still, I would be a hypocrite to hide behind fake good intentions if I said I don’t encourage women who want to have the last say when it comes to their lives and bodies.

Considering I was pretty pissed at the moment when I wrote this, I thought about re-writing it several times. But the truth is, if I were ever slammed in the face with the same radical views displayed in such rude inconsiderate fashion, I would react just the same.

So excuse the tone and nervousness in the writing. It belongs to a Mela on the edge. We all go there and it’s part of life and we are all entitled to our own beliefs, change of hearts and moodiness. Amen!

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Note: for those who feel like jumping at my throat right away I recommend that you read the entire thing no matter how much you feel entitled to bitch and cry “murder” from the word start. This is not a pro-abortion piece but a rational approach to why abortion has to stay a free choice and should be allowed to happen in special situations – to say the least.

I don’t unfriend people on FB unless I get mad for various reasons. From rudeness to weirdness to extreme views that seem too violent for me to digest. And I got mad a little while ago on a guy that I actually appreciated generally for his ideas. Most of the time he seemed to have decent opinions and had a good sense of humor. But sometimes he would display his beliefs in a very impolite manner. They were rude, equivocal and one sided. Like he held the absolute truth. No one holds the absolute truth. Plus, any idea shared with others has to leave room for their opinions to fit in, because we are presenting our case not trying to convince others that what we believe it’s the right thing. And surely using verbal violence while doing so and being rude surely doesn’t help a cause. Not even a good one. It’s like PR work. A good project can go to hell if you’re not selling it right.

So this guy posts a video from a women’s protest in Poland. It all started when the Polish Prime Minister supported the idea of turning abortion illegal no matter the cause or case. Basically, no woman, regardless of the reason, would have the right to have an abortion. A local priest embraced the idea (as it is expected in most such cases) and started talking about its legal grounds in church. Most women got up and left. Now this guy comments to that video, “Look at these tramps, all leaving in protest!” And amazingly a lot of men came in to support his comment.

Let me say this. If you adopt such legislation then you’ll have women dying from home induced abortions by means beyond sanitary. To put it in the simplest way possible. Just like back in the communist age when women weren’t allowed to have abortions because we needed to increase the population and show just how thriving Romania is. And then you had human embryos floating down the local rivers thrown at night when the militia wouldn’t catch you or an informant neighbor couldn’t sell you out. Or, women in villages who did not even know specialized doctors or nurses and would use wire coat hangers, absinth infusion or violent massages on their abdomen to cause abortions. Oh yes, the truth is so fucked up. It’s disgusting. But it happened for generations on end because of reasons beyond our imagination or acceptance. But who cares, you know? Because you can’t really judge once you’re not there. We’re not talking about those couples who have numerous children not caring whether they can provide for them or not. Unfortunately love is not enough to feed hungry mouths. We’re talking about the uneducated, the ones lacking means of contraception, the ones who by accident get pregnant when they are too old or have too many kids already, those who get pregnant following rapes, those whose babies are discovered to have physical or mental disabilities in the womb and the list could go on.

When not given the chance and access to proper medical treatment and abortion, women still go for one and in desperation they end up dead. Think that when fighting for the baby's life that you think she's taking away, you might be taking hers. And neither her baby's life nor hers is ANY OF OUR decision to make!
None of those would be able to have an abortion anymore, legally. Do you think that would stop them? A man commented, “a woman who has been raped can always give the baby up for adoption if she can’t bear to raise him/her.” Really? What about the 9 months she carries what she probably perceives as a little “monster” in her belly due to the violence and abuse she had endured? Perhaps she doesn’t want to relieve that nightmare every day for almost a year. Perhaps she feels dirty by carrying the product of her rapist in her womb. But what do we care about her mental trauma. All we care is for her to bring a child into the world to then give it up for adoption. Double trauma. But again, what do we care that with how funny life is, perhaps that child will find out not only that he’s been adopted but that he was also the product of a rape. Of course, the child may never know of any of this and have a happy life. But you can’t only see the glass half full, because there is a very bitter half empty for that woman and no one can judge the situation better than her.

A woman said, “a woman doesn’t respect herself if she is having an abortion.” Really? Let’s say that you were on pills and you took antibiotics and somehow it happened that you got pregnant because of that. Your friggin’ condom was punctured and you got pregnant. The pills you were getting were not strong enough. You miscalculated your period. You thought you menopaused, when surprise! You’re pregnant at 49 with two kids in college and you’re not up for round three. There are a million ways to get pregnant. Or you’re a student (the number of teenage/college pregnancy is rising). Yes you could have the baby but then your life will not be the same again. If you’re lucky and the father sticks around, with a bit of the parents helping, you’ll graduate college. It’s a huge effort. Some make it and love it. Some have to give up education and in most cases they don’t actually get back to school because they won’t have the money or support they need.

Babies detected with the Down Syndrome (or anything similar from physical to mental illnesses) or any other such disease that cannot be treated in or outside the womb. What then? I read the FB profile/comments and posts of a mother who did not have one but two children with Down Syndrome. And yes I can understand everything she says about how much she loves them and that despite knowing what they were suffering from she still decided to have them. Because to her they are beautiful precious creations. And that makes her a wonderful person to me. But as I said, it’s a matter of choice. I would not bring a child into the world with such a problem and I don’t believe I am less because of this. Because even when we try so hard to give them a better life, even when they’re perfectly healthy, one cannot still say 100% that their children will have a good life. Isn’t this a major part of why we have children? So they are our legacy into the future while enjoying a better brighter life than we had as parents? There are people fighting in different countries right now to legalize “suicide” for terminally ill cancer parents who do not want to go on living a painful torturous life while seeing their loved ones suffer for it as well. They don’t want to live just to live when there is nothing but pain and anguish. So if our old and sick ask for a right to better life quality or nothing at all, what makes you think a sick baby wouldn’t want that? Of course they can’t. Their death is not a solution, but a lifetime of struggle is? What do you say to your child when he will be fed up with being "different" and sick and in hospital all the time and he will ask, "why did you allow this knowing what's coming?" Is it easier to hear them say "I wish I was dead"? You think that doesn't happen? Life is no fairy tale world where sick kids are so thankful for having a loving family but once they step outside their home existing suddenly becomes a little bitch where they are treated (usually) badly and they are not accepted. Let's not even mention getting girlfriends, boyfriends, jobs, sex etc etc - you know. The normal life they would crave for when seeing it happen to teenagers their age on a daily basis. I wish your love and care as parents would save them from all that, but in reality it won't. 

If I were to have a child suffering from something similar and then something happens to me, not only that he had a bad start in life but once I’d be gone or unable to help (we do grow old, weak and eventually die before they do), who will insure even that level of quality I was able to provide? Look how we’re still struggling as a society to accept and give job opportunities and equal rights to an independent life to people with Down Syndrome, autism, the sensory and physically impaired. Not too long ago an 8th grader suffering from autism here in Romania scored higher in his final gymnasium tests than most normal kids. You know what? He was not admitted in most high schools because of egotistic parents and a rudimentary educational system still existing in medieval times!

If some think I would be selfish in going for an abortion in such a situation because, I quote, “if the baby is faulty you just dump him”, then I say you are selfish in bringing him into the world and condemn him to a life in a wheel chair when all the others play freely. Or to a life in a mental semi obscurity where he won’t go beyond the age of 5 even if he turns 30. And the list could go on. Back in the day we didn’t have the choice to know beforehand details about the health of our baby. Now we do and it should help to make the right decisions, whatever that would be for each of you. And this would be mine.
To conclude with, a woman who decides to have an abortion decides on her body, on her life, on her soul. And no one has a say into that. It is not your sin or burden to live with it. And funny enough all those men commenting. I’m sorry gents, but what a joke! How many of you have actually queued up with your ladies at a gynecologist appointment to listen to a room full of women, from pregnant, to menopause elders, to 15 year olds coming in for their first check up knotting their legs as if they were going to be abused (I assume you do know that for most women opening their legs in front of a stranger who will stick metal parts in their vagina is kind of weird to say the least), from women with multiple abortions, to women suspected of cancer, to women annoyed by relapsing infections. How many of you have listened to their stories? How many of you have spent a week or two wondering why your period is not coming because your man did not want to wear a “corset” ‘cause it’s just not fun but he expects you to ingurgitate hormones for years and years. Let me tell you: very very few. The only true dedicated men I’ve seen together with their women at the hospital were those expecting or those interested in expecting. I’ve been to the doctor many times by now. Not once, in all the cities I’ve been, the hospitals and various doctors, have I seen a man there to support his woman after having an abortion. And we know how many ask for one if it happens that their girl gets pregnant. Perhaps we should make asking for abortions illegal as well, that might help with containing the numbers.

Stay out of someone’s life, people. You don’t know when your turn will come, or your children’s turn will come and one day you may end up with your daughter in tears on your door step saying she is pregnant, that it was an accident and she will not have the baby because it’s not the time yet. Will you think of her as a low life with no self respect? Will you balance the pros and cons? Will you help her have the baby and then put it up for abortion knowing she will think about it for her entire life? Will you support her to make sure she won’t do something stupid and die or never have other kids again because you didn’t take her to a doctor? You can assist, support, guide, advise and eventually show all the pros and cons of the situation but let her decide. After all, if you do decide to help her keep the baby make sure you won’t blame her when she is overwhelmed because she wasn’t ready, constantly reminding her just what she did and the kind of sacrifice you’re doing to help her out. And how her life is messed up. ‘Cause if you do, then you should better not help her at all.

I may not be a parent yet but I believe we need to provide children with a good start in life at least. That means give birth to healthy children that won’t suffer throughout their existence because we let them and we can’t help them get better either. Because even when they are perfectly healthy, there is a good chance that in the future they fuck up their lives on their own. But at least we did what we could to ensure a good path for them to walk on.   

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Ok. All things said and done, here is a little story as a final note. I was in college when due to a flue my period didn’t come. It only happened twice in my life and it was always because of some medical issue. So here I am standing in line at the gynecologist with a friend, to go see what it is. Yes, I had a boyfriend back then. And yes, I was using contraceptives. I was and am a fanatic with contraceptives just because I want babies so badly and I do not want to end up having one at the wrong time.

As we are waiting, I’m wondering why the hell it's taking so long for the doctor to see me. We were running about 40 minutes late already and the waiting room was packed with women. It was mid February and it was still very cold out so I was wearing this black turtle neck. It was pretty hot inside within the small crowded place. Eventually a nurse comes out and with one of those kindney/bean tray whatever you call them and she passes me by as I sat with my back at the wall. I could tell there were the small parts of a baby there. Made me so sick instantly I collapsed to the ground. My friend had to go get me water. A few minutes later the woman who had the abortion came out. She was white in the face and could barely walk, dragging herself across the hall, assisted by another nurse. No man in sight.

That tray horrified me. Horrified me for what it stood, what that baby could’ve been, what her life would be now. But you know what? Not for a moment did I judge her. She looked miserable enough to have others put more on her shoulders. And gents, only Virgin Mary had a baby on her own. Even if you both decide to have the abortion, even if she does it because you want it or she wants it, you should be there for her. Cause you were there when you made it happen. Take that damn responsibility.

I went in with shaky legs. I HATE going to the gynecologist. I hate being exposed like that, I do not like it in the least. The only thought that keeps me going is that I need to check on myself so I stay healthy so when the time comes I prevent as many possible problems that may occur when having a baby. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have easy pregnancies as I am sure you all know.

As he’s basically doing his stuff and my legs are high into the damn ceiling, he asks, what is a very normal question, “is there a chance you are pregnant?”. My heart succumbed in the pit of my chest, melted my spine and fell to the floor. All my life I was against abortion when there is no real cause for concern (medical or otherwise) and it's just an unwanted pregnancy because I always fought so hard to prevent an "accident". I didn’t say anything. He continued “would you consider an abortion?” My instant, instant answer was “yes” and I almost whispered it. It shocked me and threw back my world and trampled on all my 24 years of conviction. There was no pregnancy of course. But my life turned around after that episode.

As I walked from the hospital I called my mom and asked her: “you know, ever since I can remember you always said, Mela, if it ever happens and you do get pregnant, don’t be afraid, come and tell me. I may be upset with it but I will help you.”  I paused. “Mom, what kind of help did you have in mind? It never occurred to me to ask.”

And she said “I’d take you to a doctor and take care of it.” I stopped in the middle of the street, in front of the theater and said, “mom listen to me and listen to me well. If I ever become pregnant know that it was not by my doing. I am insane with contraception so it could only happen because fate is against me. I will have a clean consciousness that I have done everything to prevent it. So if it does happen, don’t ever take me to the doctor. Just talk to me. Talk to me so I walk through my fears and decide what to do.”

I am telling you all this to underline the fact that one moment of utter realization of how messed up reality can become due to a possible pregnancy will bring the unbelievable and impossible out of you. Your reasoning, your beliefs, your convictions will be run over by fear, instinct of preservation, overwhelming fright of responsibility, especially when you’re not ready. You have to get there, be in that situation to really know what you’d do. Theory is easy. In practice we might be more cowardly and weak than we want to believe we are.

Does that make us bad people? No. It makes us human. The important thing is to acknowledge that the first reaction says something about you and about your inner fears that you might have to face once deciding to have an unplanned baby. Support from family, friends, your man can be crucial in deciding what to do. Just as much as pressure, blame, negativity and anger can take a toll on you and steer you into a different direction. At the end of the day no one can tell what that woman is going through and whatever she decides will stay with her for the rest of her life. I want to believe that with a very few minor exceptions, women out there aborting for various reasons will always bare that on their shoulders even if they have babies afterwards. No one wants to do this, but life is not fair is it? So why add your judgment to what is already a form of punishment in itself? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Motherhood. The Other Side. Chapter I

Motherhood(ing) away from it.

Saying No to the Essential.

For the longest of times I wanted to be a mom. So much so that somehow in my mind, ever since I was a young girl, children meant more to me than the father, the marriage, the household. More than me. It was and still is so deeply rooted in my being that there are times (sometimes a whole friggin’ year!) where I miss their presence in my life enormously. Not wanting to have children has never crossed my mind. I always believed that marriage by default implies having children. I always believed that if the times are right and I have the maturity, proper environment and financial power to have a baby, I’d do it in a blink of an eye.

Babies to me are the quintessence of life. The unbreakable bond. The ultimate legacy. They are my greatest achievement because I believe they will be great and amazing. And most importantly, the one single creation that I leave behind of endless worth and value. I have no clue whether I’m going to be a good mom or not. I hope I will. I love them right now so much and I don’t even have them. And God knows I fear the responsibility as much as any other girl. There’s no manual on how to do this, yet many do it on a daily basis.

Still I have friends who even though great with children, have never really found it a priority in their lives. If it happens, fine. If it doesn’t happen, they won’t necessarily miss it. And yes, some feel guilty for not wanting it as badly as many of us.

Is there something wrong with them? Women who choose not to have kids have been referred to as "shallow" and "self-absorbed," and even the pope has said the decision not to procreate is fundamentally "selfish."

Meanwhile, I did a bit of a research and found a few interesting articles about the reasons why women don’t embrace motherhood. Or perhaps as much as they used to. So keep an open mind and read through them and then tell me what you think.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1. Kids aren't always financially feasible — especially if you have student loans.
Whether it's the medical costs of giving birth or the lifetime financial commitment that having a child entails, financial reasons were one of the most popular behind why people didn't want kids. Many respondents also specifically called out their student loans as a reason for not being able to afford kids — a trend that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, if the total student debt of the Class of 2015 is any indication.
"It leaves your body and it costs $20-30K. I've $40K in student loans already taking up the rest of my life. And that's best case scenario. If anything goes wrong, double it."
"I'm pan[sexual] and currently in a relationship with a woman. Having a child biologically would involve a huge medical bill."
"If I can hardly afford to live well now on my income, how can I be expected to give a child the life they deserve?"
2. There's a strong fear of passing down mental health issues.
Those who have struggled with various mental illnesses reported being particularly wary of bringing kids into the world, out of a fear that they would inherit the painful experiences they themselves went through.
"I made up my mind when I had diagnosed with the same mental illness that my mother has. Being raised by my mother who has manic depression was scary. You shouldn't be afraid of your parent."
"I've struggled with depression and if I passed that pain on I would feel horrid for inflicting that sadness and numbing on another human. No one deserves to live like this if it can be prevented."
"I am mentally ill and mental illnesses than mine run in my family, as do autoimmune disorders. I do not want to bring a child into the world knowing that there's a strong chance it will struggle like I have."
3. The population is already out of control.
Some concerned citizens cited overcrowding and environmental concerns as reasons to fear a rapidly growing population. While there's some debate as to whether or not overpopulation is a serious threat to humanity, many millennials see it as a legitimate reason to avoid adding more humans to the equation.
"There are too many unwanted kids on the planet as is, so I don't want to bring more into the world. I'm adopting if I ever decide I want kids. People don't understand how bad having a large population is."
"I joined [the] zero population growth movement a long time ago for environmental reasons."
"I think we need more do-ers and innovators compared to repopulaters."
4. Fertility issues can give a different perspective on the necessity of having kids.
While one might assume that infertility only affects older women, some millennials struggle to naturally conceive as well. In fact, according to 2002 data from the Centers for Disease Control, 11% of married women under 29 have dealt with fertility issues. For some women, this can lead them to reconsider whether they even want a kid in the first place.
"I can't have kids naturally. It's not a sad thing though. A lot of other women get upset when I tell them that, but I just say I really have no right to complain about one gift I didn't receive when I have been given so many to begin with."
5. Pregnancy can take a serious physical toll.
Even in the 21st century, childbirth is a strenuous (not to mention potentially dangerous) physical ordeal. Plenty of women just aren't into the idea of using their uteruses as an "incubator," as one very honest respondent put it.
"I'm completely squicked out by pregnancy and labor. Full-on body horror."
"The physical changes my body would go through with the pain of birth is not appealing at all to me."
"The idea of carrying a child makes me nauseous."
6. With kids comes the pressure to make perfect choices.
Although people who don't want to have kids are often called "selfish," our survey showed they're anything but. If nothing else, our respondents were well aware that the responsibility to be a good parent means consistently putting the child first and making healthy choices for them, and they didn't feel they were up to that challenge.
"It overwhelms me to think that there would be a tiny little person growing inside of me, depending on me to make healthy choices."
"I might fuck them up with horrible parenting."
7. Not all women are preprogrammed with maternal instincts.
Much like comedian Margaret Cho, who once joked that she "ovulates sand," many women told Mic that they simply didn't feel they were born with motherly urges.
"I have personally have never felt the 'motherly instinct' that girls my age who are getting married and pregnant rave about. I have had multiple encounters with children throughout life and it is always an awkward and anxious experience for me."
"Children always have irritated me to no end. The only time I enjoy children is when they are quiet, humble, intelligent beings. Obviously these conditions are unreasonable to expect of the tiny humans, so for me, the logical solution is to not have any of my own."
8. The world isn't always a nice place.
Sometimes the decision to not be a parent is as simple as wanting to spare a child from having to live in a world of jerks. Citing factors like global inequality, bullying or a general discontent with society, many readers don't want their offspring to have to deal with the world's problems.
"I feel we have too many issues recently with law enforcement and government that I do not feel comfortable upbringing kids into this society."
"I was bullied a lot as a child. I know what children are capable of and it scares me. I see all children as a potential future threat, simply because about 70% of people in my year group were bullies, and most of them still are. I wouldn't want a child to have to live in a world where they'll either be bullied, or be the bully. I don't think I could handle seeing my child cry from being made fun of, or being told my own child had made someone else cry for fun."
"Honestly our society is kind of fucked up; I don't need to send someone out into that."
9. Sometimes, career ambitions take priority.
There is research suggesting that the idea of "having it all"—both a family and a kickass career—is something of an unattainable myth. So it's not surprising that a number of our respondents reported they see parenthood vs. career success as an impossible choice to make. Many said they would only view children as possible hindrances to their lofty career goals.
"I don't want to have kids because I am studying to be a surgeon and I don't think I could give them the attention they need with such a demanding job."
"When I imagine my future, I just don't see any [kids]. I love what I'm studying and I want to get the most out of my career. Whether that includes endless overtime, sleepless nights, relocating, and/or travel."
"I have noted from quite a young age that when a man and a women get married and have children — it almost always means the women becomes a housewife (unless the parents both have to work). I have worked hard in school and would love to get married some day, but the idea that I would quit my job that I have worked my whole life to stay home for the next 18+ years does not appeal to me."
10. Children don't fit into every lifestyle.
Even when career goals weren't the primary reason behind the decision, many respondents cited a desire to preserve their already-fulfilling lifestyles as an equally compelling reason why they didn't want kids. These respondents felt that their lives were full (and busy) enough as is, without the added responsibilities that come with having children.
"My dream is to visit all 195 countries in the world (been to 23 so far) and I really don't feel like a child fits into the nomad lifestyle I want to live."
"With the way I want to live my life, kids would get in the way."
"I don't want kids because they're a fuckton of work."
11. Ultimately, a reason shouldn't even be necessary.
One reason stood out among all the others: not needing a reason at all. After all, our personal choice as to what we want to do with our bodies are just that, personal. Many respondents felt they didn't need to provide an explanation one way or the other.
"Sometimes I think that "I just don't want to" isn't enough of a reason to explain the lack of progeny. Then I think, why the hell should the reason matter to anyone other than myself? And I am content with that."
"I don't want kids because I just don't. I shouldn't have to explain my reasoning, or even have a reason at all: my body, my choice."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Getting pregnant made everything clear.
When I was 27, I got pregnant with a guy I was dating. I wasn’t far along, but I could already feel my body changing. My gums were swollen and bled. My breasts were tender. The guy I was seeing said he would support whatever decision I made, and my mother and sister were just as supportive. It was entirely my decision. On the third day after taking the test, as I woke up to grab my Gatorade (which was the only thing I could stomach) it hit me: I don’t want a child. I don’t want the pregnancy experience. I don’t even like to hold babies, much less give birth to one. Before I got pregnant, I would say I was 98 percent sure I didn’t want kids. When people would ask me, I’d say no — but always follow that up with “you never know, maybe one day.” In that moment, however, it was like, no. Just, no. — Callie, 33, South Carolina

I’ve just always known.
I’ve never wanted children, for as long as I can remember. If I played house with other kids, I was never the mom. I went to a very small Catholic grade school and I vividly remember an assignment for our confirmation classes that asked us where we saw ourselves in five to 10 years. Every girl in my class talked about how they wanted to be married with children, a white picket fence... the whole package. I was literally the only person that said I wanted to live in an apartment in Chicago with a dog. — Katie, 28, Illinois

I realized I don’t want to bring kids into a world like this.
I was always on the fence about having children, but then I started to volunteer as a sexual assault crisis counselor in my mid-20s and that pretty much got rid of my ambivalence. As I worked with more and more women who were survivors of childhood sexual trauma, it became obvious to me that our justice system is not in their favor. They were courageous survivors, but most of them never saw justice as children and battled lives full of PTSD, fear, depression, addiction and anxiety. I quickly realized this is not the type of world I wanted to bring a child into — it simply was not right for me.
I believe I would have come to the same decision if I hadn’t had that experience; however, not as decisively as I did. What I witnessed as a sexual assault crisis counselor was not something I could shake — especially when I thought about bringing my own child into this world. Until we care more about the well being of our children in general, I won’t be in a hurry to have any myself. — Sara, 28, Canada

For no particular reason, I suddenly had my answer.
I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I never wanted kids and I never even thought twice about it until my late 20s. At that point, I went through some real angst over it, wondering how I could look at a baby and feel nothing inside, and trying to talk myself into having a kid or two. A lot of my friends were having kids, and my mom was asking about it. It was almost a daily thing — I’d just be spinning the wheels in my head.
One day something inside of me snapped and I told myself that I was making the decision then and there. I said, there are no new facts to consider. You’re not suddenly going to get some new information that makes this easier, so just go with your gut. In that moment, I knew the answer was I didn’t want kids — and then I instantly felt so relieved. I haven’t looked back since. (I have a lot of weird epiphanies, like, I can tell you the exact moment I began liking bell peppers.) I don’t know what it was about that particular moment; it was just... time. It’s like being at a restaurant and not being able to chose between a salad and a burger. At some point when the waitress comes, you just have to order. — A, 33, Texas

I finally saw a model for what a childfree life looks like.
I’ve never had an interest in children, but it was in college that I decided that I would be childfree. I had a few female professors who did not have kids and who led perfectly fulfilling lives, with books and pets. I spoke to one of my professors about it, and I follow her on Facebook, so I get a lot of updates about her life. I never had a model for it before then, as my entire family is “traditional” — you get married, have kids, that kind of thing. I had never considered the childfree life a “complete” life, having grown up with that, but I knew it was the life I wanted to have. It’s taken a lot of work to accept that it’s not selfish to want what I want. — Jessica, 25, South Carolina

I still have some fears (and that’s natural)
I’ve never wanted kids, I just feel like I don’t have the “mother gene.” The only real regret I have is that I know how badly my own mother wanted grandchildren, and that I never gave her any — she has stage IV colon cancer, so that definitely makes the regret run a little deeper. 
But I don’t think these fears or regrets need to be eased, and they don’t run my life. They are more fleeting thoughts, which I believe are normal — natural. There was no defining moment for me, no a-ha. To this day, kids and babies just make me very uncomfortable. I don’t relate to them. — Niki, 38, Chicago

I’m 39 and still unsure.
I’m 39 and always thought in the back of my mind I might have kids someday, but now I’m ambivalent about it. I have a good job, a house, I travel several times a year and have a lot of freedom. So if kids were to happen now, fine. If not, that’d be fine, too.
I’m surprised by my ambivalence. I always said 35 was my cutoff to have a baby... and then 35 came and went. I was briefly married in my early 20s and figured it would just happen eventually, but then the marriage ended before it even became a topic of conversation. If I met a man I felt would truly make a good father and life partner, I would consider it, though at 39, I am not sure it’s even a reasonable expectation that it would occur naturally. It’s also definitely not a priority in my life. — Kristen, 39, Florida

Spending a lot of time around kids gave me my answer.
When I was a child, I thought I would get married and have four kids. Then I became a teacher and realized that I really like children, but I don’t really like them after 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. It was a sudden realization. I would think to myself, “How could I go home and deal with more kids, even if they were my own?”
I have a niece and a nephew who I helped take care of when they were babies, which was a pleasure, but when their mother or father came to get them, I was elated. I realized that I just don’t have that thing, that factor, to be the type of mother I’d want to be — the kind that gets on the ground and plays, is patient when they’re moody. I just... don’t. I hear all the time, “You’re so good with kids!” People just assume that if you’re a nurturing person, you should automatically have children, but I don’t have that desire. — Andi, 33, Texas

I don’t want to go off my medication.
I have always loved children — I love being around them, listening to the things they have to say. How they perceive the world is magical to me. When I was younger, I thought that I would have lots of babies, but now at 25 I have a feeling in my very core that I’m not meant to. I have been taking Paxil, the anti-anxiety medication, since I was 12, and it has been linked to birth defects. I’ve tried to get off the medication, but every withdrawal has been filled with cold sweats, vomiting, dizziness, chronic fatigue and weight loss. The thought of going through nine months of withdrawal while pregnant is something that terrifies me. The stress it would put on the baby and myself wouldn’t make for a healthy pregnancy. I know that I will probably never be able to carry a child. Call it instinct. — Samantha, 25, Florida

I feel ill just thinking about pregnancy, but I worry about regret.
I’d always planned that I’d get married and then have kids by the time I was 30. I was engaged at 21, but realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with my husband. Then I was in a relationship with a guy for seven years who was a terrible father to his kids already, and I left him. Since then, I’ve traveled. I volunteered in Africa for two years.
I’m 36 and I really don’t know if I want kids or not — I’ve cried over the fact that I may well now be too late (I’m not sure I have enough time to find someone and bring kids into the world with him) and at the same time, I’m not sure that I actually want to go through pregnancy at all. I love the freedom I have, and the fact I have a well-paid job with plenty of time to travel; however, I’m scared from everybody’s hype that one day I’ll wake up and regret not having kids.
To be really certain that I want to have kids, I’d have to meet the right guy, and know that he wants to have kids also and that we’d continue adventuring together. But then I read an article about pregnancy and childbirth and I think no again... I feel nauseous just thinking about pregnancy and childbirth. — Kayley, 36, UK

When I got my tubes tied, I finally felt ‘“childfree.”
I remember telling my mother when I was about 5 years old that I never intended to have children. Of course, she brushed me off and gave me the usual, “Oh, you’re young. You will change your mind.” As I grew older I wavered — not because I was unsure, but because of the pressures of society. But when I was 25, I decided to be loud and proud about my childfree status — that was the year that I became pregnant while on birth control. My boyfriend and I were terrified at the thought of being parents. We decided that if my pregnancy was viable, we would go through with an abortion. Lucky for us, it turned out to be ectopic so no other action was needed on our part.
I don’t think I needed the pregnancy to make things clear for me about where I stood, but I do think I needed it to make things clear to others. After the ectopic pregnancy, I decided to actively pursue getting a tubal ligation. It was performed in April, 2014 and that was the first moment that I truly felt childfree and in control of my reproductive health. — Ulonda, 27, US

I’m fed up of being told that I’ll change my mind when I meet the right man. The right man for me won’t want kids either! And if the hormones kick in and I have a complete change or heart – that’s my prerogative, not anybody else’s.

As far as I'm concerned, each to their own. You cannot force someone into having babies when they don't want it. It will mean sufferance for both mother and child. At the end of the day we all play a role in this world, that's why we're different. Asking someone who wants to have children to give up their wish sounds cruel. Yet calling a woman "selfish" for not wanting to have them is not. Really?

 Just think about it.