Last night I watched Gray’s Anatomy or rather a big shared Gray’s Anatomy-Private Practice event, and it really stressed me out.
First, there was a pregnant woman, played by Jennifer Westfeldt (of Ira and Abby fame, I love this movie not only because it’s smart and hilarious, but also because my husband shot it!). Anyway, Jen had a brain aneurysm and there was some problem with the surgery that made them realize there was a problem with the baby and they were going to have to deliver him at 24 weeks. But Jen freaked out and said no, so instead they did some in utero procedure on the baby even though it was going to endanger mom’s life. It seemed like it all went well but then Jen started talking nonsense so clearly something had gone wrong and they were going to have to do another procedure on her brain. And the whole thing really stressed me out. In the Private Practice part of the show there was this mom who tried to drown her baby because she had post-partum psychosis. She was babbling on and on about how much she loved her baby but how tired she was and that stressed me out.
I can’t take any stressful baby stories at the moment. Everything makes me afraid for boo. In fact he started coughing over the monitor while I was enduring this whole nightmare and I just wanted to go in there and get him out of bed and hug him and crawl into bed with him in my arms. I knew I shouldn’t wake him up, but I was completely irrational. Neither story had anything directly to do with me, but just the thought of a baby dying—either in utero or at his mother’s hands—was too much for me to take.
And then there are the octuplets. The famous octuplets.
Ever since these babies were born, the public outcry has roared. But now that their mom has gone on TV, pictures have become public, the website on which mom asks for donations has been revealed, the angry mob is seething and taking to the streets waving pitchforks and torches. And who am I to mock them? I’m one of them. The discussion on the mommy list Peachhead has gotten pretty ugly. There have been loads of posts: How irresponsible she is. We the taxpayers are going to wind up paying for these children. She’ll probably get a reality show to support them. Did she get plastic surgery to look like Angelina Jolie? How could she afford plastic surgery when she’s already got six kids? She’s clearly imbalanced. Etc. Etc. And then the backlash: How can we be so cruel? What’s up with the snide comments? Who are we to judge? We are moms, too, and we should support this woman.
Who are we to judge?!
We are moms and we know how hard it is to raise even one child. My husband and I were up half the night with Aidan during those first weeks and now I still walk like a zombie through the night to nurse him when he cries. I still feel the tug on my heart when he tugs on my shirt, whining, as I’m trying to check my email or make a phone call. Imagine eight newborns all begging to be fed, changed, hugged. How is she going to feed them? How is she going to change their diapers? How is she going to hug them?
After seeing those tiny babies on TV the other night, I couldn’t sleep. I was haunted by their faces. Their sweet little faces. They didn’t ask to be born, but now they are here, eight little people struggling to survive, because they were brought into the world too early, and what kind of life will they live? Raised by a mother who is alone, who has no money, no job, no real support, six other small children to raise. It’s not even like in the olden days, when families would have lots of kids to help with the family farm and the older ones would take care of the little ones. There was no such thing as eight newborns at the same time! Eight newborns! None of her older kids is big enough to help her care for them. How do you even get them home from the hospital? You’d need to make eight trips, or I guess four trips, in order to get them all into carseats, unless you have a van of some kind. Where do you put eight cribs? You can only take two on a walk at a time, maybe three if you use a double stroller and a sling, but then who would be at home watching the others? They probably just won’t go on walks.
And who the hell is going to hug them?
That more than anything…the love. Babies need love to survive. They need affection and cuddling. They need to feel their mommy’s love. And even if she loves them as much as she says she does, they’ll never feel her love because it’s spread out amongst the other thirteen. I have a friend with twins who says it’s horrible because they always have to share her. One of my fears about having a second child is that I want to give all my love to Aidan, I don’t want my love to be diluted. And I’m concerned about having a second!
This woman? Let’s say she grows eight more sets of arms and can bop around magically from one to the next…if she’s spending all her time trying to keep up with cuddling those newborns, what about the other six? Her little Aidan is autistic. What about him? I am so sad for these babies, I can’t even wrap my head around all this sadness.
My anger at this woman’s lack of responsibility and impossibly poor judgment has little to do with the fact that she’s poor or has the gall to beg for handouts on a website that taxpayers’ money is going to end up supporting them. I am just unbelievably sad for these babies. I am haunted by their faces.