A Mother's Choice

There has been a lot of discussion about the NY Times columnist who chose to terminate the lives of two of her three children. She brazenly stated she did it for convenience sake, a lifestyle choice (Robin Leach red courtesy phone!),that she had no responsibility other than to herself.
That is patently false. For when one person cheapens (her)humanity and the basic goodness of a society, we are all the poorer for it. And this morally deficient female is a very sad example of the level to which we have sunk.
What is perhaps more disconcerting…I wonder how many more are out there like her? Or is this something that could have just as easily happened 40, 50, 60 years ago?
Which brings me to a story….
December 1954
The doctor sat across from the twenty something woman. She was from all appearances healthy, with red hair a pretty face, and all in all a fine figure of a woman.
The doctor did not like having the discussion he was about to have. But in his heart there was no other choice. “We have stopped the hemorrhaging.” “You should be fine, but based on what I can tell, the baby you are carrying is no longer alive.”
The young woman fought back tears. This was to be her first child, tangible proof she and her husband were more than husband and wife, they were a family.
“What do I do now doctor?”
“Well, it appears you are still carrying the child…but due to the large amount of blood lost…it is more than reasonable to assume if you carry this baby to term…it will be stillborn.” “I could set up more tests, but this is my considered opinion.”
Jane got up and dressed for the ride home. Christmas was fast approaching, but the precious gift she carried was gone…or so the doctor was telling her. What was next? How could she tell her husband? What should she tell him.
“Jane, here, take this.” The doctor gave her an address and phone number. “I want you to think about this. You don’t have to carry this burden. I trust this gentleman will take care of your concern, if you agree with my diagnoses and decide not to carry the child to term.” “I am not saying you shouldn’t, but that you do have a choice if you desire it.”
Jane nodded, and holding back her tears, left the office.
She thought about it over the course of the next few days. The doctor was good, and a respected member of her community. Jane knew he had put his reputation and career on the line by just giving her the name and information of someone who would rid her of her child. She also knew in her heart of hearts, her baby wasn’t dead. And the doctor had said she could try and carry the baby, to term.
Jane tore up the card. This was to be her first baby and damn it, she would carry it …the baby was still alive…she just *knew it*. Jane wanted that July baby, she would not willingly give up hope.
May 1955
“Get in the car honey!” John was holding the door open for his wife, now in her seventh month of pregnancy. “Damn”, he thought, this is too early, she can’t be having the child now. Maybe it was just false labor….but she was in pain and after last Christmas, John wasn’t going to take any chances. He drove off to the hospital, just minutes away.
The hours went by. John paced the floor in the waiting room…going through smokes like they were going out of style. “What is happening?” “Is she alright?” “What about the baby?”. They had arrived at the emergency entrance, the nurses had escorted his bride of almost a year quickly inside. After parking the car, John went in and was directed to wait where all good fathers to be are sent…..the expectant father’s waiting room.
The good doctor, the same one who had consoled her back in December, now told Jane to push….hard! Although he had given her a choice back then, he now had to use all of his skills to try and bring this child into the world….two months early.
Jane pushed….and pushed again….and this time she heard a “plop” as the baby arrived in the world in the usual way. Jane was drained…but when she heard the cry of new lungs…”Oh dear God, it sounds so weak, so tiny…”. It was a boy! The child had all his fingers and toes, his head covered by a mass of black hair. But he was so tiny, and weighed only a few pounds at birth.
July 1955
John and Jane arrived at the hospital on a hot July day. Their “miracle baby”…the one her doctor had, with all the best of intentions, thought was never going to make it to term, the one the doctors and nurses didn’t think would make it in the first week or two after he was born…was going home.
Granted this story takes place almost fifty years ago. But even back then abortions could be had. There were any number of *good* doctors who did refer their patients, when the need arose, to one who performed that task. Often it might be a fellow doctor who did things like that on the side….many times it was not.
We have many more medical advances today, which allow for a two month preemie to (barring complications) easily make it. Back fifty years ago, there wasn’t much more then the grace of god and incubators.
Unlike the monster who usurped the power from god to choose which of her children would live or die, Jane sought to continue fighting for the child inside her. Jane had thought of more than just herself. She thought of her husband and the family they were going to be with the addition of the baby.
Unlike the monster who was more concerned with her lifestyle, to Jane and her husband this was never an issue.
But it’s just a story…..who the hell is this old fart trying to impress with his rambling moral stories? I don’t know, I kinda like Jane…seems to be quite the feisty gal. But even an old crusty Sailor…has got to love the woman who fought so hard back then to bring him into the world…don’t you think? “Thanks mom….I love you.”

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