I’m a narcissist, how ’bout you?

Could we please ban some words from public discourse on fertility and childbearing? My list includes narcissism. Narcissist. Narcissistic. Or any variation of the root narcissus except for the flower. These words are useless. I know that if someone uses that word, the discussion is going to take a turn that definitely can’t result in anything useful.

I’m thinking about the sex.tup.lets born in the US last week (I think it was last week – I avoided the topic until it turned up in a lot of the liberal and left political blogs I read.) I just don’t have it in me to publicly cry, “Narcissist!” over the parents’ decision not to selectively reduce in these situations. Of course I know what I think I would do if faced with that decision but I never will be, will I?

You know who else is a narcissist? A woman who aborts a child she knows will be disabled. A woman who doesn’t abort a child she knows will be disabled. A woman who postpones childbearing until her late thirties. A woman who has children when she’s not financially secure. A woman who has a child that might somehow require a special share of my paltry tax dollars. Oh and especially a woman I don’t like who has children that I think will be damaged by the curse of her personality.

And, of course, me. I have cost my insurance company so much over the past year and I continue to do so. I don’t feel even a glimmer of guilt about that at least. I feel lots of sadness though. I remember that I went into this with so much hope and I still have enough that I’m willing to start over again.

I recognized earlier than it was confirmed that there was something going wrong in my pregnancy. I sought out help. But never ever, not even in my teariest moments in the hospital did I really believe Natan wouldn’t survive until he was gone. I believed that something had to happen – I couldn’t bury a son. Things that bad don’t happen to ME and I wouldn’t recover (Wait, I’m confused. Am I supposed to be “over it” already or inconsolable, confined to my bed or an institution? Resilience and immeasurable suffering are only two of the contradictory emotions demanded of the grieving). I’d survived crazy things before. Natan would be the same as me – tough, resilient. He couldn’t die. The doctors certainly weren’t filling me with false hope. But I just couldn’t imagine myself in such a horrible situation. My life is about hard work and well-earned success, not failure and heartbreak. The challenges we might face with a premature child were graspable, but not the idea that we’d be left bereft after everything. It wasn’t some inane belief in G-d’s mercy or wisdom that made me think this – but I just don’t know how I would have survived if I’d ever given up hope.

I guess though that that does make me a narcissist – the belief that the fact that I want this enough is a reason to keep going.


5 responses to “I’m a narcissist, how ’bout you?

  1. Which set of sextuplets are you talking about? There were two sets born in the same state in the same night. One set was born at 30 weeks, each baby between 2-3 lbs — wow!! The others, the Morrison 6, were born at 22+2 (i think) and were between 11 oz and 1 lb 3. There is a world of difference in the likely outcomes of these two sets, and i am just so sad for the second family.

    I totally understand using fertility treatments and i totally understand not being willing to do selective reduction. I don’t understand proceeding with your IUI cycle when you obviously have 6 or more mature follicles. (which was the case with the sextuplets born at 30 weeks.) That is something which should indeed be questioned by both the media and society at large…which, by the way, has far too rosy an image of preemie outcomes in general.

  2. I can’t read my usual political hunts nearly as much as I used to anymore. I think most of my outrage cycles have been converted to grief cycles. I am glad I missed the discussion of sextuplets. But I would have to agree with Kate about going through with IUI (or DIY IUI, I guess, if the cycle was canceled by the doctors) with too many mature follicles. But I think the question is not one of narcissism here, but rather one of responsibility.
    Incidentally, I wonder whether people in general would be less likely to go through with the DIY cycles on the canceled IUIs if they weren’t paying their hard-earned money for the privilege of being overstimulated in the first place. If you only have money for X attempts, and this is try number X-1 or X, wouldn’t that make you more likely to try something risky? Universal health insurance might be a good thing for many more reasons than we usually consider, just saying.

  3. You’re both absolutely right. I just see so much discussion descending into name-calling: these parents were narcissists for choosing this, IVF and IUI are narcissism….
    Responsibility would be a better way to discuss it.

  4. LeRoy Dissing

    If narcissim is the love of one’s hope then we are all one but I don’t believe that is the correct definition. While we all have touch of narcissim in us just like we all certain eccentric behaviors or beliefs, it doesn’t mean we are crazy or necessarily any weirdier than anyone else.

    Even though I don’t know of the situation regarding the sextuplets, they were probably doing what they thought best for them. Who are we to judge when they probably could use all the support they can get right now especially?

  5. Okay, last night I was super tired when I responded. My convoluted post was meant to be about the level of discussion, the easy descent into raving uninformed insults – so that reasonable statements like Kate’s and Julia’s don’t get much attention.

    Yeah, I am hurt by the rosy image of preemie outcomes as well. If any of the 22-weekers survive – and I was so sad to see this morning that another one died, meaning 3 have gone – the cameras will disappear for any discussion of their almost inevitable disabilities. As they should. I don’t think these births should be media events. Birth at 22 weeks is a tragedy and birth at 30 weeks is a crisis.

    But if the grieving mom in Minnesota were to start a non-media saturated blog, I would offer countless internet (((HUGS))) and grieve the unnecessary deaths of 3 more children. Regardless of my feelings about how it came to be.

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