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"I was raised by a single mom, and I turned out just fine."
February 10, 2010 12:09 AM   Subscribe

"It's going to be okay. I was raised by a single mom, and I turned out just fine." A young doctor in NYC writes a moving post about her observations in the neonatal intensive care unit.
posted by pseudostrabismus (77 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
Right. Fucking. On.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:26 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. That was great. It makes me feel better about the world to know that there are people like that in it.
posted by smartyboots at 12:36 AM on February 10, 2010


powerful stuff. An amazing person and a great post.
posted by russmaxdesign at 1:15 AM on February 10, 2010


Maybe I've had too much wine, or maybe it's just because I was a 17 year old single parent, but this article made me cry my heart out. I wish fervently - FERVENTLY - that there was somebody this kind, this empathetic, this understanding sitting with me when I was scared to death with a newborn baby after 45 hours of labor and an emergency c-section. Nobody treated me and my daughter like anything but a failed statistic and an embarrassment - and what I would have given to hear that somebody, hell anybody thought we would turn out just fine.

Thank you for posting this. That person does more good than they know.

(And hey, against all odds? We did turn out pretty awesome.)
posted by Space Kitty at 1:18 AM on February 10, 2010 [46 favorites]


Jesus Christ... I aspire to one day be one 10th of the person she is.
posted by Harald74 at 1:45 AM on February 10, 2010


Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, psuedostrabismus.
posted by honest knave at 2:30 AM on February 10, 2010


If you believe in her, she will believe in herself. I promise promise and I know this is true because my mom never had one drop of self-confidence but she thought I could lasso the moon if I wanted, and even though I'm almost thirty, I'm not convinced that I can't.

I think this might be engraved in the rotunda in the lobby of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

I think if she had been attending when my daughter was born, only fear of marring the day for my wife would have stopped me from telling this doctor to fuck off if she was hovering like she claims to do.

I do, however, appreciate that the piece reads like a rushed homage to chapter 18 of Ulysses. And I suspect that it has a much to do with real events as Penelope anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:49 AM on February 10, 2010


Fantastic. Thanks.
posted by ginky at 3:26 AM on February 10, 2010


Mayor Curley, thanks! I enjoyed your contributions to this thread about the terrors of single motherhood. Love how you managed to work in a reference to Ulysses, too. Shows how smart you are!
posted by milarepa at 3:58 AM on February 10, 2010 [36 favorites]


Mayor Curley, your response is bewildering. You're accusing the neonatologist of 'hovering'?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:10 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this might be engraved in the rotunda in the lobby of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Sometimes people -- particularly emotionally vulnerable and immature teenagers at one of the most critical turning points in their lives -- need someone to toss a Hallmark quote their way. Just because it's a cliche doesn't mean it's not true.
posted by xthlc at 5:20 AM on February 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think if she had been attending when my daughter was born, only fear of marring the day for my wife would have stopped me from telling this doctor to fuck off if she was hovering like she claims to do.

Except she only claims to do that for mothers who don't HAVE fathers with them, so she wouldn't have done so for you.

....Jesus, did you READ the damn thing, or just skim it for bits you could mock?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:34 AM on February 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Words have consequences, something I will try harder to keep in mind as I go through my day.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:38 AM on February 10, 2010


The plural of anecdote is not data?

* ducks *
posted by blue_beetle at 5:54 AM on February 10, 2010


Maybe it's just the pregnancy hormones, but this article, short as it was, brought me to tears.

I am not a teen mother, but I am relatively young and have had more than one person look down on me for what I know was a solid choice, made at a convenient time in my life. When I informed my 40-something, new mother of a boss that I was pregnant, she replied "Are you keeping it?"--I've never been so insulted in my life, and can only imagine what someone younger than me must go through emotionally when they have to tell the world they've made a baby under less than ideal circumstances.

By my estimation, childbearing is somewhere between the most natural thing on earth and the most miraculous, and no one should be made to feel like it is any less beautiful and important than it is. Although I may be more comfortable with the prospect of my new role than a younger mother, I am certainly no better prepared for motherhood itself. We're all children until we become parents.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:55 AM on February 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was raised by a single mom, and I turned out just fine.
posted by Skorgu at 6:00 AM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, sunshinesky, it's sometimes a bit hit-or-miss if gratulations are in order when it comes to pregnancies. Maybe she just misread the situation?
posted by Harald74 at 6:03 AM on February 10, 2010


Harald74, I think it was more a matter of her relative age and 'maturity' when she entered motherhood that gave her the impression that someone in their early/mid-twenties was clearly too young to be reproducing on purpose (GASP!). I wasn't looking for a congratulations, I was simply informing my employer that my duties needed to be adjusted. All she needed to say was "Ok." If I had had any intention of terminating the pregnancy, why would I have told her? I would have simply taken a few sick days and no one would have been the wiser. That experience has really helped me sympathise with the plight of the teen mom, no one should ever have to hear 'so, are you keeping it? [because maybe you shouldn't!]'.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:11 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm too naive. I read the hallmark hall of fame as a comment of praise.

oh yeah, SINGLE MOMS 305 REPRESENT!
posted by cavalier at 6:14 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're all children until we become parents.

Consider what you're implying for those of us who don't plan on having children. Thanks.
posted by thisjax at 6:22 AM on February 10, 2010 [23 favorites]


The first three weeks of my daughter's life were spent in a NICU. This meant that I for every trip between home and the NICU or work and the NICU, I incurred a 45 minute overhead, plus the overhead of scrubbing before going in, plus the burden of not sleeping, plus the burden of dealing with the reality of being a parent to a child who has significant disabilities. I was very happy that the NICU nursing staff were absolute angels.

There was a day when I was feeding my daughter and she volcanoed a plume of proto-poo and meconium up between her butt cheeks and all over my thighs. Think creamed spinach. I don't know why people compare poo to food, but yeah that's the color and texture. Did I mention that I was wearing off-white trousers? Yeah. I asked the nurse if I might borrow a pair of scrubs until I could get another pair of pants. She had to ask the head nurse, because they don't just give out scrubs. The head nurse said 'no' without looking up. The attending nurse pointed at me and said, "JUST LOOK AT HIM!" Once the head nurse stopped laughing, I got a pair of scrubs.
posted by plinth at 6:27 AM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Consider what you're implying for those of us who don't plan on having children. Thanks.

I did, and I stand by my comment. I think maybe you've misunderstood my implication there.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:29 AM on February 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


There are few things I respect more than compassion. It's in pretty short supply nowadays, which is a shame, because it sometimes seems to me that it's the only thing that keeps us from slipping into a human-made jungle, where you're on your own, all the time, and everybody wants to watch you fail, so they can chew your bones and pat themselves on the back for being better at life than you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:33 AM on February 10, 2010 [39 favorites]


I think maybe you've misunderstood my implication there.

Since you've obviously been misunderstood, a clarification might be in order. I read it the same way as thisjax, and am curious as to what you actually meant.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:34 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Joining the "what the hey was your implication, then, because it wasn't clear" chorus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on February 10, 2010


Wrong day to make me cry on the bus, I don't have a hankie with me. Just two paper towels tucked into my lunch bag.

We had so much teen pregnancy at my high school that we had a nursery on campus for the babies. I know the voice this writer speaks of. Girls who had been my peers and equals 6-9 months before got transformed by teachers into...others.

Sadly, I sense myself acquiring the same negative attitude. I'm going to try harder to knock it off.
posted by bilabial at 6:41 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok AZ and thisjax, I'll bite!

Maybe I'm just naive, but I have gotten the impression that there's a certain loss of innocence with parenthood that someone without children will never have experienced.

Hell, I don't even fully understand it yet personally, but it's just an observation of my friends, who are anywhere from young parents to childless folk of my parents' age. It's not that people without children are childish, only that the impact of parenthood is so huge on anyone that it makes a discernible difference in comportment. You're no less of an adult when you choose not to have kids, but you are different from someone who did. No shame in that. You are somebody's child until the day you die, but you're not a parent until you raise a child of your own.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:44 AM on February 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, that's fair. I'd certainly say adults without children are a different sort of adult that those with in some ways -- we have very different responsibilities and choices to make.

For me, the mark of adulthood is being the primary actor in your own life -- the one who makes the choices, and the one who is responsible for the results of those choices, and is willing to take that responsibility. And what seems to me to distinguish the experience of parenting from the experience of those who decide not have children is that, for parents, the best interests in of the child must always be considered in any choice that will effect them. I do know that this is a very different set of obligations that we non-parents have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:51 AM on February 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Since I can't favorite that any more times than I already have, can I steal it from you and share it with others? It's honestly one of the truest things I've heard in a long time.
posted by rollbiz at 6:53 AM on February 10, 2010


Steal away.

Steal away into the night.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:13 AM on February 10, 2010


I'm too naive. I read the hallmark hall of fame as a comment of praise.

I did too.
posted by ged at 7:26 AM on February 10, 2010


I hate the casual judgmental assumption that people who have trouble conceiving have a responsibility to adopt foster children. Why then is that not true for everybody? That kid who would "walk on her lips to call you mama" would walk on her lips to call anybody mama, including the woman who gets easily pregnant the first month she decides to begin trying.

The kids who are languishing in foster care have a ton of baggage. I know people who've adopted kids like that, and it has worked out great, and I think it's a terrific thing. I also know people who've adopted from foster care and ended up with kids with entrenched their Reactive Attachment Disorder, or who have "re-enacted" abuse on other children in the home.

She's trying to argue against being judgmental but her casual judgment of certain moms makes me really dislike her.
posted by not that girl at 7:56 AM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


psuedostrabismus, thank you for that post. Made me cry, but also forward to my mother in law the NICU nurse, a woman very like the writer. They are out there.

And Space Kitty...ya'll did turn out pretty awesome!

Condemnation of teen mothers is such a default setting in our culture, but we don't often give much thought to how unhelpful it is to the girls in question. Girls arrive at teen motherhood through so many paths, sometimes bad choices, sometimes bad luck. Sometimes, most controversially, even because they wanted to and felt ready to be moms.

Reminds me that I've been meaning to read this comic as well, The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom.
posted by emjaybee at 7:59 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a hell of a post. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2010


151 days in NICU with my micropreemie kid qualifies me to talk about this!

I was impressed by two things. First, that this doctor -- in New York-- has the time and the wherewithal to be involved that much in the kids' lives. I'll be frank, I knew every doctor in that NICU before my kid got out, and I knew them because they were on rotation for two weeks at a time and I knew that if I wasn't there between 9:30 and 10:45 I would miss rotation and I wouldn't see them again until the next day, unless we were in Major Crisis Mode. So if she actually talks to the kids' parents as much as it seems she does, good on her.

The real action in the NICU is with the nurses. The nurses do the actual care, they are the ones that are there 24/7, and if you are as lucky as my wife and I were to have a hospital with Primary Nurses, you wind up having these amazing relationships with incredible people that persist well after your kid is finally out of the hospital.

The second thing is what AZ points out-- compassion is really hard to find and is a great thing.

Finally, I want to say a word in defense of us parents that got the mild reproach about being embarrassingly mad about how our kids wound up in such dire straits while the crack mother's kid is doing a-ok. There is something so, so, so deeply unfair about what happens with the challenges in a NICU sometimes. To this day I see the classic scenario of a parent in the supermarket yelling and striking their kids and wonder why it was (seemingly) so easy for them to have a kid that they don't even seem to like, and we had to nearly kill my wife to get out our 20 oz child. Some parents of full-term "normal" kids just never seem to get how lucky they are and I sure don't see anything wrong with expressing that in the safe confines of the NICU.
posted by norm at 8:23 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved this post and I admire this woman (and anyone who works with sick babies) and love her compassion - but she's not actually a doctor. I don't know what her role is in the NICU, but as of last September, she hadn't even applied to med school yet. I hope she still feels this way when she finishes.
posted by Dojie at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was raised by two long-time married pareents. and boy, I am a mess.
posted by Postroad at 8:43 AM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also - second norm's comment about NICU nurses. My sister's four months in the NICU were an incredible strain for the whole family. We had no idea what was going on. But the nurses were on top of everything and never let us down. It was obvious that they loved the babies and they loved their work. I can not imagine having the strength to build attachments to so many children who could (and often do) die at any second.
posted by Dojie at 8:45 AM on February 10, 2010


Finally, I want to say a word in defense of us parents that got the mild reproach about being embarrassingly mad about how our kids wound up in such dire straits while the crack mother's kid is doing a-ok. There is something so, so, so deeply unfair about what happens with the challenges in a NICU sometimes.

It sounds to me like the author got that, though -- there's a bit in there where she says that "but I realize that they're just sad about their own kid to the point where that sadness is just spilling over" or something like that. I took it as more like "okay, I know that the people who blurt that out are just taking out their own fear on others because they can't help it, but the teenage mothers don't get that, and my heart goes out to them for taking it personally because they're so young."


Personally, I think having a child in NICU is hard on a parent no matter WHAT the story is with the parents, and I think that grief and fear make us all say or do things we wouldn't do otherwise, and my heart goes out to anyone in grief or fear, no matter how that grief or fear makes them behave.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someday I'll be able to read the acronym "NICU" without my chest tightening in panic. But not yet.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:01 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


that was beautiful. thanks for posting, pseudostrabismus.
posted by shannonm at 9:19 AM on February 10, 2010


Mayor Curley: A neonatologist's job is to hover once the baby is getting on with getting born. When you're birthing a preemie or a sick baby and you don't know whether it's going to need oxygen or one of any number of other interventions to fucking survive, that hovering neonatologist ready to rock and roll is reassuring as hell.



...add me to the list of folks who can't read a NICU story without feeling the fear.
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:34 AM on February 10, 2010


(Of course, as was mentioned above, this person is not a neonatalogist, so maybe she shouldn't be hovering!)
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2010


The second thing is what AZ points out-- compassion is really hard to find and is a great thing.

Yes, but you are only looking at one side of the equation.

"Compassion" is also a huge burden. I lost count of the number of times I had to comfort my first wife as she was going through residency. She cared and becoming involved in the lives of her patients exacted an enormous emotional toll on her. It was never easy for her when a patient died, but it was far worse when she had any sort of personal involvement. Not all of those babies survive you know.

So I'm not so sure compassion is a great thing. Dispassionate, distant, "insensitive" care is a defense mechanism for medical staff. It allows them to do their jobs professionally and live their own lives when the day is over.
posted by three blind mice at 10:14 AM on February 10, 2010


Reproduction is such an imposition.
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2010


Sounds like she's a resp. tech or lab tech... in which case, yes, lots of hovering is required. Doc basically hands them an illegible scrawl on a clipboard, and they take over from there.

Also, my wife loved her OB, despite the fact he had the bedside manner of a dead barracuda - rude, cold, distant. He always laid it out straight, sugar-coated nothing, and was deeply interested in her pregnancy as an intellectual challenge. Not very likeable, but you can trust the guy in ways you just can't with smiling cheerleader docs who are too busy blowing sunshine up your butt to focus on the job.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:26 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone medical resident has a breaking point in their training, and mine came in the NICU.

My NICU rotation came midway through my residency, in the winter of my second year, when I'd felt like I'd been doing this shit forever and there was still no end in sight. Neonatology is such a highly specialized, technical, minute by minute, tedious field of medicine; those that do it for a living seem totally absorbed by it. Me, I'm a primary care guy, I'm big picture, and all I could think about was how fucking pointless the whole thing is. Every day, I'd trudge in at the crack of dawn to calculate how many grams of poop these little blobs had made, or what percent oxygen their ventilator was delivering, but every day it would be the same kids, sick as shit, and no ever left unless they died. And if they did leave, it would be into the hands of an unprepared, undereducated family (if they were lucky enough to have a family) who would be utterly incapable of managing the lifetime of chronic disease and complications that would bring this kid back to the hospital every few weeks during their miserable, likely very short, lives.

Oh, and the coping mechanisms that everyone uses to get through the stress -- I don't know if you've ever been to a NICU, but ours was plastered in pictures of little baby angels and Jesus and teddy bears and hand knitted blankets by volunteers from a nearby nursing home. I'd never experienced more internal dissonance or had to suppress cynicism more in my life. I mean fuck, millions of dollars spent because society has a hang up about giving teenagers birth control or drug education. Selfish yuppies delivering preemie triplets at age 42 with the help of fertility drugs because they couldn't be bothered to consider adoption or put career second earlier in their life. I was working hundred-hour sleep deprived weeks in this joint. I began to have panic attacks, I would yell at nurses, I would scream at the coffee machine in the cafeteria. Eventually I called in sick for a few days and went to see a shrink.

Now that I'm older, of course I have a different perspective. A lot of these kids do make it out and do great and really, it is a marvel of technology that these babies are saved. I work at a clinic that sees homeless teens and I'm still outraged, I mean really outraged, at the amount of good we could do with a fraction of the money spent on one premature baby. But I also realize that the individual plights of the people you find in the NICU don't have anything to do with the massive inequities of health care delivery.

The person that wrote this post sounds amazing. I recognize that same outrage and cynicism I felt years ago in this post, and it is just incredible to me that this person can maintain her compassion and sense in the face of all of it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


I hate the casual judgmental assumption that people who have trouble conceiving have a responsibility to adopt foster children. Why then is that not true for everybody? That kid who would "walk on her lips to call you mama" would walk on her lips to call anybody mama, including the woman who gets easily pregnant the first month she decides to begin trying.

I think the point is that you have to have a certain obsession with your own DNA to spend the thousands of dollars, go through the extensive rigamarole, put your body through a bit of hell, just to have a child of your 'own' if you are not a woman who conceives easily. It's not a 'women who don't conceive easily have a moral obligation or responsibility to adopt and the other women don't' sort of thing. The moral imperative, insofar as there even is one, to foster or adopt a child would be equal for everyone. It's just that some seem to go to extravagant lengths to not adopt. Does everyone have a right to have a child is an interesting and important question, especially as what was once purely self interest has now become, as our population continues to balloon and the world's resources are drained, intertwined with the interests of our entire civilization. I'm not trying to create a wendell here, I just wanted to point out that I don't think she is saying that women who can't easily conceive have a responsibility then to adopt.

That was a really beautiful and touching article - thanks for posting!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:56 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Selfish yuppies delivering preemie triplets at age 42 with the help of fertility drugs because they couldn't be bothered to consider adoption or put career second earlier in their life.

Or, you know, they didn't meet a decent guy who wanted or was able to have kids with them before, or they wanted to have a shot at doing what they loved and were great at for some years - maybe working in an NICU unit, like the author you admire? - or maybe they've just taken a long time to conceive?
posted by alasdair at 11:04 AM on February 10, 2010


He's admitted that those were the thoughts of an exhausted, cynical, on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown younger man. I'm not sure we need to take him to task for having had those thoughts years or decades ago.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on February 10, 2010 [9 favorites]



Selfish yuppies delivering preemie triplets at age 42 with the help of fertility drugs because they couldn't be bothered to consider adoption or put career second earlier in their life.

Or, you know, they didn't meet a decent guy who wanted or was able to have kids with them before, or they wanted to have a shot at doing what they loved and were great at for some years - maybe working in an NICU unit, like the author you admire? - or maybe they've just taken a long time to conceive?


We all make difficult choices in our lives - and we cannot have everything we want. There is a sense, especially in this country, that we are all entitled to a wildly successful career, an incredible marriage, a house, easily conceived and birthed children who are smart and healthy and good looking. All too frequently, the selfishness that drives one to have children at age 42 just isn't fair to the child.

Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:14 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very teary. I'm sharing this with my daughter - she turned out more than fine. I see her someday writing something like this herself.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:24 AM on February 10, 2010


I was raised by a single mom, and I'm a fucking mess, just like she was for the first 15 years of my life. She probably thinks I turned out fine and has no idea of the great harm she caused by breeding without thinking. As noted above, the plural of anecdote is not data.

When I informed my 40-something, new mother of a boss that I was pregnant, she replied "Are you keeping it?"--I've never been so insulted in my life...
Then you've lived a comfortable life, indeed.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


All too frequently, the selfishness that drives one to have children at age 42 just isn't fair to the child.

And sometimes you just get pregnant. My 46 year old cousin delivered two healthy, beautiful little girls yesterday.

I was wondering what I would write on her card, but "you selfish yuppie" will really do the trick.
posted by three blind mice at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.

I wonder what losses you've cut that are comparable to a person who strongly desires children not being able to have them. it's so easy to make statements like this about other people.
posted by not that girl at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder what losses you've cut that are comparable to a person who strongly desires children not being able to have them. it's so easy to make statements like this about other people.

Ad hominem attacks aren't really appreciated, and you shouldn't make assumptions about the lives of people whom you do not know.

I was wondering what I would write on her card, but "you selfish yuppie" will really do the trick.

Oh come on. Clearly I'm not judging every goddamn person in the universe. I was just making a small point. Congrats to your cousin!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:29 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. Clearly I'm not judging every goddamn person in the universe.

A gentle point: sometimes, we may not MEAN to judge "every goddamn person in the universe," but choosing our words better would ensure that others do not assume we ARE doing that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Am sadly not all that surprised at the outbreak of infertility-treatment/older-mom shaming. Yikes, people. You may think you know those parents' stories, but you don't. Judging other people's reproductive choices might make you feel better, but still makes you come off like a douche. And doesn't help the kids or their parents.

Any reproduction, even if you do everything "right" and are perfectly healthy, is still a roll of the dice, and more civilized societies have pretty much agreed that telling people whether or not they could have kids based on their "fitness" is a bad idea and tends to end up in things like forced sterilizations and eugenics.
posted by emjaybee at 12:37 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Judging other people's reproductive choices might make you feel better, but still makes you come off like a douche. And doesn't help the kids or their parents.

I don't think it's necessarily douchey to question some people's reproductive choices. For example, a lot of money gets spent trying to keep teenagers from having babies. Do you think that's a bad thing? There is a middle-ground between "babies for everyone no matter what!" and forced sterilizations and eugenics. Teenage girls can have babies, and older women can spend thousands of dollars pursuing dangerous, life-threatening pregnancies, and that is their right. Doesn't mean society can't question the wisdom of those choices.
posted by Mavri at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was just making a small point. Congrats to your cousin!

Thanks Lutoslawski. Mommy and babies are doing well and we're all really relieved and happy.

I was just making a small point that (as you say) one does not know the situation behind every 40+ pregnancy.

Sorry for the sarcasm. I shall take the advice of EmpressCallipygos to make my points more gently.
posted by three blind mice at 12:48 PM on February 10, 2010


coolguymichael, I was raised in a 'happily married' home; my mother bragged of her 'breeding with thought'-- BUT ... she still was/is pretty much a fucking mess. I don't attribute my problems to her -- just as I don't take credit for my daughter's success.

As noted above, the plural of anecdote is not data ... and correlation does not equal causation.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:30 PM on February 10, 2010


All those claiming that evil selfish people in their 40's trying to get pregnant should adopt are missing a huge aspect of the problem: for example, it's not exactly easy for a single person to adopt, even out of foster care, even cross-racially. China won't allow fat people, single people, gay people, people on antidepressants to adopt. Other places raise similar bars.

So before you go attacking such women-- and I note you are only attacking the women, even though autism risk rises with *paternal* age, too-- check your facts.

The reasons that people end up doing this are not typically "I wanted to live Sex and the City and forgot to have children."
posted by Maias at 1:49 PM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I too was raised by a single mom, and there's a chance I'll turn out fine. It's really too early to say.

Due to some last-minute complications, I was born 7 weeks early (back in the mid-1980s, when being that premature was Likely Very Serious) and had a short NICU stint. My mother has always described her experience at the hospitals involved as being nothing but supportive, and this post underscores the fact that her experience would have been far less compassionate had (a) she not been in her thirties at the time and (b) not appeared to have an involved partner. If she had had me 15 or so years earlier, it's almost certain that our lives would have been made more difficult by the behaviour of observers, to say nothing of the attendant socioeconomic consequences of teen pregnancy. I'm with bilabial for feeling awful for having a somewhat disdainful attitude towards teen mothers, especially given that I should be able to at least somewhat empathize with them and the circumstances of their new families.

sunshinesky: I can live with that explanation. However, for some, the decision not to raise/bear children is one made specifically in the best interest of the hypothetical children they won't be raising — often to avoid the potential situation Lutoslawski alluded to. There's an inherent loss of innocence in that choice, too.
posted by thisjax at 2:09 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


How'd this turn into a discussion of drugged out 40+ IVFers with triplets on death's door hogging precious resources? Besides the fact that the blog post is about the teen moms with babies in the NICU, there are a zillion reasons babies end up needing care. Moms with normal pregnancies and no risk factors whatsoever also end up going into early labor, and no one knows why. Reproduction is a gamble, whether you're 15 or 50, and it's not always planned or perfect. The NICU roller-coaster ride is tough for everyone - old, young, coked-out, straight-edge, married, single - so have a little heart, you compassionless sucks.
posted by Never teh Bride at 2:36 PM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Um, that lady isn't a doctor. Like Dojie said, that blogger hasn't even attended medical school. And while the sentiment is nice, her writing skills are awful.
posted by anniecat at 3:01 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


How'd this turn into a discussion of drugged out 40+ IVFers with triplets on death's door hogging precious resources?
...
so have a little heart, you compassionless sucks.


As AZ pointed out, I was a compassionless suck when I was experiencing the resentment towards the "selfish yuppies with preemie triplets" I described in my story. I absolve myself of responsibility that certain people are getting all fighty about this. Please, it would be good to drop this line of discussion *right now.*

Now wasn't just that a great article?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:03 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someday my kids are going to be old enough to beat up your kids when they find out you called us selfish yuppies for deciding to have them.

i keed i keed
posted by davejay at 3:43 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Slarty Bartfast - I was trying to decide if I should be indignant when I read your original post, then when I read "Now that I'm older, of course I have a different perspective...." and read on and understand. For a short period in my adult life, I was a teacher. And while I am effective at educating, I was horrible at teaching and high-tailed it once I had something else in hand. Those that can manage that particular very human task have my deepest respect. I figure you went through something very similar on your NICU rotation.
posted by plinth at 5:23 PM on February 10, 2010


I wasn't calling you out, Slarty Bartfast... hope you know that? It was the tone of the comments after yours that really got my goat.
posted by Never teh Bride at 5:29 PM on February 10, 2010


And while the sentiment is nice, her writing skills are awful.

I don't think they are. but YMMV
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:18 PM on February 10, 2010


It would have been more touching to read without the casual offsetting of this against the DNA-obsessed "must have child of my own" mothers. Mostly because of my own half despairing attempts to produce a child of my own. (I do consider adoption but will try other options first).

What I'm taking with me is that the best we can do is to not be judgemental either way. We all need encouragement, and this has broadened my horizons.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:45 AM on February 11, 2010


She was raised by a single mom so she empathizes with these mothers. Yet she is baffled by women who desperately will do anything to their bodies to carry their own child.

Everyone will side with what they know. Yes she has amazing compassion but like anyone, she has the fault of judging another group.

I didn't wait until I was 38 to have my first via the infertility route because I was selfish with my career, having fun, etc. I got married late, our 3 year wait extended into 6 years (can't even tell you why.), tried for a year on our own to no avail, don't have the money to adopt and infertility procedures were covered, I wanted to give it a college try in having my own, it was a success and I'm grateful. I want another child but marriage is right now on the rocks and money is really tight so it's isn't smart--married or single. So we wait. The unfortunate side is I wanted my own again and that will mean I"ll be over 40. The increase of issues goes up, the question of if it will work this time goes up, heartache is there no matter if it's through infetility or adoption. It's not like we have $50k laying around to spend.

So not everyone is all career happy living the Sex and the City lifestyle. Sometimes a struggled life happens and things are put on the back burner because it's smarter. I wanted to be semi-financially prepared. How is that selfish?
posted by stormpooper at 8:12 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


As AZ pointed out, I was a compassionless suck when I was experiencing the resentment towards the "selfish yuppies with preemie triplets" I described in my story. I absolve myself of responsibility that certain people are getting all fighty about this. Please, it would be good to drop this line of discussion *right now.*

Now wasn't just that a great article?


Yeah, it was, and my bad for castigating you. Thanks for your posting, I thought it was wise and interesting.
posted by alasdair at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2010


My wife went into preterm labor at 31 weeks. She spent 2 weeks in the delivery room on total bedrest. And our son spent 3 weeks in the NICU.

It was a difficult and surreal time in our lives, compounded by the mixture of total joy and abject fear we felt throughout the experience.

But the NICU nurses and staff were a gift from God (St. John's in Santa Monica - They deserve a shout out) and not only took great care of the baby. They took great care of us.

Our son is now six and doing great.
posted by cjets at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2010


All too frequently, the selfishness that drives one to have children at age 42 just isn't fair to the child.

So now we're back to blaming the mom for her child's autism? I thought this went out of style with the Refrigerator Mothers back in the 1950's. And, by the way, correlation does not equal causation. Or do you believe that vaccines cause autism as well?

Teenage girls can have babies, and older women can spend thousands of dollars pursuing dangerous, life-threatening pregnancies, and that is their right. Doesn't mean society can't question the wisdom of those choices.

Did you even read the article? The whole point is that everyone deserves some sympathy in the NICU, be they 14 or 40. And though older women clearly do have more issues, "Dangerous, life threatening pregnancies" is unsubstantiated hyperbole.

If you'll be 35 or older on your due date, you'll be offered genetic counseling. A genetic counselor can help you understand your particular risks and help you decide whether to have genetic testing to screen for or diagnose chromosomal problems or other birth defects. Keep in mind that every woman has a chance of having a baby with problems, no matter what her age.

Other than that, if your weight is normal and you have no medical disorders, your risk of complications during the pregnancy is probably similar to that of younger women who are also in good health.

posted by cjets at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2010


Did you even read the article? The whole point is that everyone deserves some sympathy in the NICU, be they 14 or 40. And though older women clearly do have more issues, "Dangerous, life threatening pregnancies" is unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Did you even read my comment or were you too busy constructing straw men to flail at? I can be sympathetic to kids who have babies, or older adults who desperately want to become parents, and still question their choices. (I also did not say that younger women are guaranteed healthy babies, that older women are guaranteed (or deserve) unhealthy babies, that fathers (young or old) have no role in reproductive choices, or that women only have babies when they're older because they're out living the Sex in the City lifestyle.) You may only be able to view the world in black and white, but I can believe that it is unfortunate when young girls have babies and also believe that these young women deserve sympathy and support. I can question the choice to spend thousands of dollars to pursue a risky pregnancy and still believe that older parents with babies in the NICU deserve sympathy and support.

The comments got onto the topic of older parents, and someone acted like questioning other people's reproductive choices leads to eugenics. I merely pointed out that it's really not that unusual to question other people's choices when it comes to very young mothers, and that the same reasoning could apply to people who choose to have babies even though they are at increased risk of dangerous complications. People, including you, read a lot into that comment that wasn't there.
posted by Mavri at 1:03 PM on February 11, 2010


I don't think it's necessarily douchey to question some people's reproductive choices. For example, a lot of money gets spent trying to keep teenagers from having babies. Do you think that's a bad thing? There is a middle-ground between "babies for everyone no matter what!" and forced sterilizations and eugenics. Teenage girls can have babies, and older women can spend thousands of dollars pursuing dangerous, life-threatening pregnancies, and that is their right. Doesn't mean society can't question the wisdom of those choices.

Here's your original comment. Do you want to point out where you said were sympathetic to their choices? Or is that just another straw man I'm flailing at (And I have to wonder if you even know what the term means)?

It seems to me that you're the one reading between the lines on your own comment and you expect us to do the same.

And yes, except for the extreme outlier cases, it is douchey to question someone else's reproductive choices, whether it's to have kids, what age to have kids, to adopt kids or not to have kids at all. It's their business (Octo mom notwithstanding). Except for busy bodies like you, I guess.

And I've yet to see the cite backing up your claim that pregnancy for older women is "dangerous and life threatening."
posted by cjets at 1:40 PM on February 11, 2010


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