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.