Tag Archives: parents

Update to a tragic story

A brief update to this post.

They’ve locked the website that had her journal entries regarding her child’s medical condition, so that link no longer works.

I think everything I talked about, no matter what the true situation with this mother allegedly trying to suffocate her child, is important is view of our developing medical technology and its ethical application to the suffering and dying.

However, none of it may be applicable in this case.

A possible theory is that the mother has Munchausen’s by proxy. The website I’ve linked to here may not be the best presentation of the “disease,” but it’ll give you the gist.

I felt a certain compassion when I thought the mother may have been attempting euthanasia out of desperation to end the suffering of her baby. But to suppose for a moment that it is Munchausen’s, that the baby may never have been ill or had any birth defects in the first place… unthinkable.

I think of the times when I have accidentally hurt my child… I think the worst one was when my oldest daughter was about one, in my haste I accidentally caught a bit of her belly when I was zipping her footie jammies. There was the tiniest little cut, and she wailed for about three minutes, but the guilt went on for days, until the little owie had healed and went away. Okay, that’s not true, I still feel a little guilty. But I never made that mistake again.

Even having to say no to my child — when we can’t go to the park, when it’s too close to dinner to have another cookie, when I have to finish the dishes and I can’t read a book right now — and seeing them be genuinely sad as a result is difficult for me.

I cannot even fathom hurting a child ON PURPOSE. Your OWN child. Causing your perfectly healthy child to suffer.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to find any compassion on this one.

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There Are Things Worse Than Death

Sometimes the news gives you a story that you just can’t shake.

A woman accused of trying to suffocate her 11 month old.

Not your run of the mill child abuser, though. A loving mother who has cared for her child, born with severe physical defects that she can never hope to recover from. A devoted parent who has had to watch her child suffer her entire life, with no end in sight to the suffering.

Not just suffer, but have to be resuscitated over and over again.

To me this is the deciding factor. This baby’s body has been trying to die. It is done. But our ability to perform medical miracles keeps the poor soul alive to continue its agony.

Why can we not learn to use our skills wisely? Why have we not established a really good process for determining the situations when it is an imperative of humaneness to just let a person go when it is obvious that death would be the best thing?

I’m not talking about euthanasia here, which is what it sounds like this mother was allegedly attempting, perhaps after a mental breakdown. Although I do think there are extremely rare occasions that might call for euthanasia, (I approve of Oregon’s Right to Die Law), I think in this circumstance a more appropriate concept is Do Not Resuscitate.

From what I’ve heard it is even difficult for an old person to have their DNR instructions respected.

There are things worse than death.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of our amazing techniques to bring someone back from the brink of death. Had this baby been in a car accident, obviously any extreme measures would be most welcome to keep her alive long enough for her body to heal and regain function.

But this baby’s body is not going to heal. Her brain stem will never grow. It will never function properly, according to the doctors’ own diagnosis. And yet they perpetuate this body’s life.

People comment that it is up to God, not us, to take a body. But God HAS BEEN trying to take her body. I am not saying that our medical abilities exceed the power of God, but if you believe in prayer, then aren’t actions a very concrete expression of our will, what we wish to see happening? Are we very naively asking for a person’s life to continue, and perhaps God is “allowing” our prayer to be answered, the way God “allows” all sorts of horrible things like murder, rape, torture. “Allowing” us to exercise our free will and then deal with the consequences later.

And if found guilty, this mother will have to deal with the consequences of what she’s done, legally and otherwise. I would never attempt to condone or make excuses for her alleged actions, but I also believe that the way a person has lived counts for something. There is ample evidence that she has been a devoted mother to both this baby and her 3 year old son, including this online website that she has maintained. It appears that she herself has suffered through a situation that few of us could handle and come out the other side with our sanity intact.

I can’t help but wonder, in the event that this crime really was committed, how her community might also be held responsible: was anyone making sure she got enough sleep, enough to eat? Was anyone making sure she didn’t need some mental health care? Is the medical establishment in any way responsible for having developed the ability to diagnose permanent defects, having developed procedures for keeping humans alive when their bodies are failing, but then refusing to resolve these two aspects so that families do not get caught in a nightmare of suffering?

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Friends

My parents never had any friends.  I know you’re saying, come on, don’t exaggerate, but I’m being perfectly serious.  They still don’t.  It’s the two of them, punto final.  They are not particularly anti-social, they just can’t be bothered.

So, having had no example, I’ve always had to make up the adult friend thing as I went along.  And I’ve moved around… a lot.  So whatever friendships I’ve managed to build up have fallen apart.  With Facebook I am able to salvage some, and with blogging I find I can get super attached, because I don’t feel like I ever have to lose any of the great people I meet over the internet, assuming we all continue to choose to inhabit cyberspace, and assuming the continuing existence of cyberspace.  (Now that we have it, can you imagine our reality without it?)

But in real life.  That’s another story.

I joined a local group of homeschoolers.  I met them at the park a couple of months ago.  Instantly, I was home.  I’d known them forever.  Not a moment of tension or awkwardness.

Great, right?

Leave it to me to put a negative spin on it.

First, they’ve known each other for years and are like a real community.  It would take me years to catch up, even though they do make me feel welcome now.  Wah, woe is me, I wish I’d stayed somewhere so I could be an integral part of some great group… blah blah blah.  Pity pot. 

Second, there is no guarantee we will stay in this area for any length of time, and if we leave they just get added to the Facebook list of blasts from the past.  My husband and I have an agreement that we will go where his career leads us.  My life is about my kids, who I can raise anywhere, my writing, which I can generate anywhere, languages, which I can speak anywhere, cooking and crafts… you get the idea.  I am willing to make this sacrifice to be a part of the wonderful partnership we have.  Most of the time it doesn’t feel like any kind of sacrifice at all, especially if I think of my parents’ social norm.

And I really like these folks.  They make sense to me.  We are on the same page.  I don’t want to lose that… again.

There is a get-together, a winter party, tonight.  I haven’t RSVPed, I am using the lice, the fact that today is my husband’s payday and thus I need to run multiple errands, and my own social inertia to blow it off.  But I’ve been told by one of the moms that I can just show up, and I secretly really want to go.  I’m at the point now where I am entering the “Cheers” phase of belonging to the group, where at least one person will instantly know my name and greet me when I walk in the door.

I think it might be a need we have, as social animals, to be recognized by not just the people in our hut but by the village at large.  Some kind of security, some kind of mental and emotional nourishment.  Don’t know how my parents manage without it, but I guess that’s their prob.

I’m so glad I woke up early this morning so I can sit here in the quiet (such a rare treat!) and get my head together.  I’m so glad you were here to listen.

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Fighting a deadbeat

On second thought, can it be considered a fair fight to shoot fish in a barrel?

My ex finally decided to contact me after months of silence, months during which he didn’t speak to the children either.

I’d have to tell you my life story to explain precisely why he’s the most selfish human on the planet, and I DID want to leave a couple of anecdotes for a rainy day (it’s only drizzling out there right now) but suffice it to say that I was loaded for bear and waiting for him to make the first move.

Prior to our communication today (messaging on MySpace, that’s how mature he is) I have always let him off the hook.  I have always been loathe to hurt his little feelings.  He has contributed a sum total of nothing financially or emotionally for years.  It has always been my policy that I hate to see dumb animals suffer, so I have kept my anger and hurt to myself and tried to be the grownup.  Someone has to, after all.

But when my husband got laid off this past January and I asked the ex to man up and send me SOMETHING, ANYTHING to help, he gave me the usual sob story.  That was when I was done.  I realized that no matter how hard it got for me and the man who has been raising his kids, the ex was never going to give a crap.  He was never going to be able to see outside the sphere of his own childish life.

And I have been a fool not to call him on it all these many years.  My husband has been so patient with me and he has never once complained or thrown in my face all the support he has given the kids.  He doesn’t treat his step-kids with any less love or concern than his own kids.  They are all his own kids.  He has the biggest heart I have ever known.

Even though my ex was the one who left me (because I was “boring”) I never wanted to rub it in his face that I ended up in a loving relationship and he, 8 years later, is STILL alone, though he has tried numerous relationships.  I hate to see anyone, even my worst enemy, have to suffer that kind of involuntary isolation (I know there are people out there who aren’t in a relationship and are perfectly happy, I don’t mean to insult them.)

I don’t have much of a point to this post except to mark a milestone.  I will continue to refrain from insulting him or trash-talking him in front of the kids.  I will continue to behave as an adult, being rational, reasonable, communicating in a clear and civil manner.

But I will not longer “give him a break.”  I will no longer shield him from how his idiocy makes me feel (expressed in a calm, adult manner.)  I will no longer feel sorry for him because he has chosen to be a pathetic selfish child when he has the potential to be an intelligent creative adult.

I am done.  It feels good.

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Family crisis

What is this world coming to?

Have you heard about the Nebraska law that has inspired parents to abandon their children at hospitals?  I have been following this story for a while now, and in every article about it you read that someone or other says, “Gosh, we need to close the loopholes in this law that was originally designed to protect newborns…” and yet I keep reading about more kids being dropped off.  How long does it take to close a loophole?  Or are they questioning whether they even should close it?

I don’t know what to think.

On the one hand, how does any situation get this bad?  The father who dropped off his nine kids, ages 1 to 17, was living in poverty after his wife had just died.  How is there no one on this planet to help this family?  There are people as we speak enjoying themselves on vacation, people buying themselves a third or fourth car, people planning what mountain of presents they will put under the Christmas tree in a couple of months, but this man was left to despair until he decided to hand over his kids to what he thought would be a better life.

On the other hand, maybe there are people out there who genuinely just don’t want their kids.  The kids are neglected, they act up, they are isolated even more by their disengaged parents, so they act up more. Are these kids better off somewhere else, maybe if we recreated orphanages so that they genuinely served all the needs of kids who have been abandoned?  If we can spend billions of dollars bailing out a huge corporation seems like we could scrape together something to help the youth of this country that someone has obviously failed to take care of. 

Who knows.  I am just trying to imagine what could possibly be going on.  Personally I don’t even understand the infant abandonment thing, I guess we accept it because the infants are more helpless and also more adoptable, whereas the older kids can fend for themselves and no one else would want them anyway.  

??????

I am not leading to any reasonable conclusion or solution.  I just think this law, whatever its original intention, raises a lot of interesting points about our current priorities in this country.  It is increasingly difficult for me to read the story passively, to remain a spectator, to have a detached curiosity.  It is beginning to feel like sitting in an armchair with a cold one while watching a building burn with people trapped inside screaming for help.

Am I being overly dramatic?  Is there a cold, aloof way to look at this that I am missing?

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