Sometimes it's hard to know how I much I'm responding to something as a [typical] parent and how much I'm responding to something as the parent of a baby who died. I heard two stories on the radio earlier this week that caused two very different emotional reactions.
The first was about a woman who walked in the room as her fourteen-month-old son jumping on the bed. He tripped on a pillow and bounced OUTSIDE a half-opened second-story window.
What did the mom do?
She launched herself through the window, shattering the glass, and managed to grab the baby by his ankle, saving him from tumbling off the porch roof.
Grandma was outside having a smoke (who says cigarettes don't save lives?) and was able to catch the baby safely as the mom fell into the bushes below.
Mom was treated for scrapes and bruises, baby was checked out at the hospital and is doing just fine. Grandma is probably glad that no one can nag her about quitting smoking now.
There is something about having a baby that makes you feel like you could have the kind of superhuman powers that require you to fling your body through pane glass in order to prevent your child from being injured. It's crazy how all those brain chemicals work, and how much we are programmed to willingly sacrifice just about anything in order to protect a baby.
I don't think this is precisely ONLY a parenting thing either; it just seems to be a natural human impulse. Baby in danger? Save the baby! People in this world are good! We love babies! Parents will do whatever it takes to save their babies!
Of course, then there is the other story.
A woman who was HIV positive delivered a baby after having zero prenatal care. Other than being exposed to HIV, the baby was healthy. Doctors began the antiviral drugs very early, treating the baby in order to hopefully keep it from getting HIV.
But then the mom quit bringing the baby (toddler by this point) to doctor appointments. She also quit giving the baby any drugs/medicine to treat/prevent HIV. The baby had no treatment of any kind for several months.
Which is why it's so amazing that when the doctor was able to locate the child months later, testing revealed no presence of HIV in the baby's blood. The doctor assumed it was a laboratory error, and had everything re-tested. Nope. Baby is HIV-free, even though the mom discontinued treatment. The HIV research community is totally abuzz because it suggests new progress in finding not just a treatment, but a cure for HIV.
And that's what the news story was about--the potentially amazing news that there could be a true cure for HIV. Which IS great news, obviously.
But all I could think about is why this neglectful mother got to keep her baby when so many moms didn't.
I know there is probably much more to the story, and I know there are undoubtedly socioeconomic and educational issues at work her that cannot point to the mother as the sole villain at work in neglecting her child to the point of possibly allowing the baby to die from a potentially preventable (curable?) disease. But it made me FURIOUS.
I can think of all the women I've come into contact with who would have literally thrown themselves from second story windows (or higher!) to save the babies taken from them, and I am so angry at the lack of justice in this world.
If anything, hearing these stories one after another made me think about how many wonderful people who would be wonderful parents are denied the opportunity to raise a child, and how many people who have no business procreating are popping out kids left and right. After we lost Eliza, David actually struggled with this issue more than I did. He saw kids at his school who were neglected or abused, while people like us who tried so hard to create a good home for our baby were left empty-handed and broken-hearted.
Fortune plays favorites without rhyme or reason, and we're left to make meaning from whatever cards we're dealt. (To mix metaphors, which I would tell my students not to do, unless they're doing so deliberately and purposefully, which I really wasn't. But you get the idea.) Good people will grieve their infertility. Bad people will have children accidentally or on purpose with relatively little effort. AND the opposite is also true.
So I guess I'll focus on the fact that some of us in this world are the sort of people who would fling themselves out a window in order to save a baby. Because that is pretty awesome. And you know I'd totally do it for Zuzu. But maybe I'll just double check that windows are shut when she's jumping on the bed. That would still make me a good mom, right?