Friday, 13 July 2012

Babies, Lack Thereof

Well, my little Single poppets, if there is one thing most of you and I have in common it is the lack of the patter of little feet in the home.

The pattering stage is not my favourite, though. My favourite baby stage is when they are crawling. When they are really tiny and still kind of purple and their eyes are not focused and there's some mysterious crushable place on their poor tiny heads, I'm a bit terrified of their helplessness.

And then when they put on some fat and develop neck muscles so they can hold up their own heads but mostly just lie there, they're a bit dull. But when they begin to roll around and figure out crawling, then they get exciting.

It can be heartrending watching a poor baby desperately trying to crawl towards some toy and not quite making it. I am terribly tempted just to get them the toy, especially if they cry with frustration. However, I think it is better to encourage them to try again. And when babies do manage mobility, they seem absolutely delighted with their new powers. Usually they crawl backwards at first. Then they figure out how to crawl forwards. Then they crawl speedily everywhere, and anxious adults have to comb the carpet for the tiny objects babies long to swallow.

I very much enjoy visiting crawling babies because then I can get down on the floor and crawl around myself. Life after 18 months can be a drag, so it is great just to get down there and crawl again. Babies have a lot of cool toys, too. Two of the parish babies (now, alas, abroad) had an amazing spinning top of which I could never get enough.

Sometimes, though, after playing with babies--although not right after, usually not until the next Sunday Mass--I wonder where my baby is. How come I don't have a baby? What's wrong with me? How come I wasn't chosen to be a baby mother? I'm a nice lady. And I don't smoke crack or shoot heroin. I'm even married. So what is the deal, Lord? I don't see why I shouldn't have a nice baby that I can take home and keep.

This, however, is a dangerous line of thought and leads to crying in the choir stalls and possibly the altar servers wondering why. ("Maybe he beats her.") It is better just to think about the babies who exist already and how cute they are. Fortunately, there are always new babies. People are always having new babies. Unless they are, of course, me.

I would love to tell you what a comfort the medical establishment is at such a time, but I cannot. And unfortunately this is where culture shock and the British brand of socialized medicine and political correctness all play a part. When I finally did have the courage to talk to a doctor, I was handed a scary looking kit and told to test myself for a Horrible Social Disease of which I have no symptoms except, apparently, childlessness. So I went home and did nothing. Of all the things you can say to a childless woman, "Hey, go home and test yourself for syphilis" has got to be among the worst.

The result has been petrified inertia. I wrote "Roman Catholic" on my registration form, but God only knows why they asked, because certainly no-one at the medical centre seems to have taken on board that there are some issues around reproduction that Roman Catholics are very sensitive about, especially if we ourselves did not go to medical school. Never has my Torono family doctor--Lutheran, mind you, pro-choice but perfectly aware I'm not--seemed so far. And nobody mention Naprotechnology or I will have a stroke. This isn't Ireland. All anyone here can think about is IVF.

And nobody mention adoption either. Thousands of Scottish babies, or, as the NHS nurse who was extolling folic acid to Catholic me corrected herself, fetuses die from violence every year.

Any nobody cry for me. I have two nephews and a niece. There are babies in my immediate social circle. Other friends in my social circle are very likely to have babies themselves. I am not totally deprived here. I'm just feeling cranky.

Update: And now for something complete different: my random scrapbook of Polish stuff.

10 comments:

Sarah said...

I hope I can ask a serious question without it being offensive/taken the wrong way. I'm going to try to be as sensitive as I can because, for all I know, I am infertile, or my husband will be, and I won't be able to bear children.

I am just wondering why couples having trouble getting pregnant hesitate about adoption. I understand the very strong desire to carry and birth your own, biological children. I definitely get that. But it's not like an adoption will hinder your ability to carry children. If you adopt, you might still get pregnant someday, and you'll just have one more child.

It's just that, I would like to adopt whether I am able to bear my own children or not, simply because I think there are children out there who need parents and love and a good home.

So while I know of women who are having trouble getting pregnant and get offended at the suggestion of adoption, I just genuinely don't understand that reaction. I think the person suggesting it really does understand that it's not a "substitute" and that you still want a biological child, and that it's a big deal and not just, "Oh, well! Can't have a child of your own? Well, just adopt!"

And I also don't think children should be treated as a back-up plan or something to settle for if you don't get what you really want.

So that's why, for me, adoption would be something I would do unquestioningly, I think. The reason I'm asking is because I am wondering if there's some aspect of this that I'm missing where, if I were in that situation, I would not want to adopt.

I'll say some prayers for you, though, and I hope you feel better.

Seraphic said...

Infertility is such a private and painful subject for most people, that any well-meaning advice can hurt them. I imagine it's like saying "You can always try again" to a woman who has had a miscarriage. Sure she can try again, but she will have always lost THIS baby.

And I personally don't want any baby. I want B.A.'s baby. If someone found me another baby, and I didn't have to go through the long agony of the adoption process, then I'd be delighted, but that baby would not be our baby in the same way I hoped for.

In deciding whether or not you want to adopt, I suppose it depends on where you live, how old you are and how much you want strangers poking into your life.

Adoption is very regulated and very expensive in the west. People who wish to adopt have to answer a barrage of questions and frankly discuss their personal lives, beliefs and finances with strangers. Their dearest hopes are in the hands of bureaucrats, and they have to prove that they are not perverts or slavers or potential child abusers.

There is prejudice against people who wish to adopt, sometimes based on class, sometimes based on race.

The UK seems more interested in childless people becoming state-paid "carers" for foster children than in giving children new parents, no matter how unstable and unfit their biological parents may be. There is a lot of hysteria in Britain about babies being stolen from poor parents and given to middle-class parents.

People who are over a certain age are not eligible to adopt babies in many countries. A woman who puts off adoption until menopause may discover that now she is too old for adoption, too.

There has been a lot of negative publicity in Britain about Christians being struck off as foster parents simply because they believe homosexual sex is sinful.

All my life I have known about the issue of waiting lists. Many couples are on waiting lists for years and years. This may be because the way of dealing with most "unwanted" babies in most Western countries is to do away with them before they are born.

If adoption was as simple as going into a hovel in Dundee and offering to adopt a baby from a poor unwed mother and bring it up as your own, then I think childless people would be a lot more enthusiastic. In the 19th century, if you were to adopt such a child, people would call you a saint. Nowadays you would be arrested.

In my own case, don't forget that I am a foreigner in a secular foreign country historically hostile to Roman Catholics and now increasingly hostile to church-going Christians in general. I would probably feel a lot more confident and cheerful about everything if I lived in my own country.

TGWWS said...

This: "Adoption is very regulated and very expensive in the west. People who wish to adopt have to answer a barrage of questions and frankly discuss their personal lives, beliefs and finances with strangers. Their dearest hopes are in the hands of bureaucrats, and they have to prove that they are not perverts or slavers or potential child abusers."

And also this: "People who are over a certain age are not eligible to adopt babies in many countries. A woman who puts off adoption until menopause may discover that now she is too old for adoption, too."

... are very true. Endless, endless regulations. And lots of money. Some of my siblings are adopted (from Poland, actually) but it was far from being an easy process for my family.

Kate P said...

I won't cry for you, but I'll keep you in my prayers if that's all right.

Me, I've got no husband, no baby--not even any prospective dates at present--but last year our family was blessed with a new little guy, my nephew (I'm finally a godmother!) and he is just at that delightful about-to-crawl stage. (He can flip over.) My SIL recently sent video of him cracking up at "Peek-a-boo" and that laughter is so adorable.

Seraphic said...

Yay! I'm always happy to hear about new nieces and nephews, especially about to hit the crawling stage. The world needs a constant supply of cuteness!

Maria said...

"How come I don't have a baby? What's wrong with me? How come I wasn't chosen to be a baby mother? I'm a nice lady. And I don't smoke crack or shoot heroin. I'm even married. So what is the deal, Lord? I don't see why I shouldn't have a nice baby that I can take home and keep."
That's EXACTLY how I feel. Except for the being married bit, for which I make the appropriate variations upon the lament above. Sigh. I will leave now before I turn this into a pity party.

Jam said...

This is how I feel when I see people's Facebook albums showing the latest wedding they attended, which featured any or all of the following: two brides or two grooms; a female celebrant wearing bright purple and teal vestments; a friend who became a "minister" via the internet acting as celebrant; various pseudo-ceremonies involving sand/candles/pebbles; synchronized dancing up the aisle (yes people are still doing that); general symptoms of 'more money than sense'. I think, "c'mon God! These people don't even know what they're doing, and yet they're getting married! And here's me single, and you KNOW I'd do it right. What gives?" If I had a nickel for every time I had to tell myself "a wedding is not a prize" - well.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers with you, Seraphic, regarding babies.

The result has been petrified inertia. I wrote "Roman Catholic" on my registration form, but God only knows why they asked, because certainly no-one at the medical centre seems to have taken on board that there are some issues around reproduction that Roman Catholics are very sensitive about, especially if we ourselves did not go to medical school.

I am NOT justifying this, but would like to point out to the Latin Mass Catholics that a good many people call themselves "Catholic" but stand in strident opposition to the Church's teachings. It's a bit like people who call themselves vegetarian but eat chicken and fish; it just confuses people, who end up reverting to the least common denominator.

~theobromophile

Miss Doyle said...

I used to subscribe to all those things re adoption - ie. long waiting lists etc... but then I was told by a lady that it's only the adoption of babies that take that long.
If you're prepared to adopt any child beyond 5 years old, you can do it in no time. She did, twice, and it only took 18 months.
Apparently because the fixation on babies (understandable) there are a whole lot of kids that once they turn 5 are considered 'unadoptable' and they just go from one foster home to another. Sad isn't it? That's the situation in Australia, so I'm not confident in applying it to everywhere.
I suppose the flip side of all the regulation is that kids deserve the very best in a potential parent, I'd prefer regulation to be OTT rather than handing kids to just anyone.
I'll continue praying Seraphic, but I've decided that if I don't get married and I'm able to financially, I'd like to be a long term foster parent/adoptive parent.
Those kids just need a lot of love - hopefully it's something I can give.

The Sojourner said...

My brother is 8 months old and is just learning to crawl; he usually goes backwards when he wants to go forwards. It is indeed a delightful age.

Miss Doyle, in my part of the U.S. it is certainly possible to adopt a 5-year-old child more quickly than it is to adopt a baby. However, the older a child is the more likely he is to be traumatized in some way. While those children certainly do still deserve loving homes, parenting a 5-year-old with PTSD is not something everyone is called to do. (Side note: My younger sister was placed with my family as a foster child when she was 19 months old and adopted 17 months later. Ironically, my brother was adopted as a newborn after my parents had only been signed on with the private adoption agency for 8 months. That is not at all common in the U.S. or elsewhere, from what I hear.)