I had begun work on this week's entry last weekend, discussing how I am beginning to reach the point of being ready to do almost anything, even go through labor, to get this baby out of me. But that was before I watched the news the past few nights. Hurricane Katrina.
The one-year anniversary of the Beslan school shootings in Russia.
Almost 1,000 people killed in Iraq when a religious procession turned into a stampede due to rumors of an imminent suicide bombing.
Now, while part of me is definitely still ready for the baby to be out of me, this week, I have been so thankful that she is still inside me, safe from the sadness and horror of this world. There is a part of me that wants to keep her in there forever and, while I'm at it, put our son back inside me, too, so that he can be protected as well.
Pregnant women are not known for being pillars of emotional stability, but I don't see at times how anyone can watch the news, see the horrors that exist in our world, and not be heartbroken and wonder how you can bring a child into it and expose them to the suffering. I know that people have felt this way for generations, and this feeling is always in the back of my mind during pregnancy. I try to suppress these negative thoughts and focus on the happy and positive aspects of the world into which my child will be born, but this week it's been hard to do so.
In covering a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, the news media want images that will remain in the public memory, and pictures of suffering and unhappy children and babies are definitely hard to shake. Last night, CNN International kept showing footage of a baby sleeping in its car seat with debris littered all around it and refugees crowding just a few feet away. One reporter described how he saw mothers with small babies living in horrible conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center, with sewage everywhere.
On the CNN website, I read more stories that broke my heart. One woman in New Orleans had had a baby just before the hurricane hit who needed to go into intensive care. She was being evacuated to Texas with no idea of where her baby was. Another woman in Baton Rouge was trying to get on to a bus with her two-month-old baby to be evacuated and actually handed the baby to another woman and said, "Take my child. I can't get on this bus, but you've got to try to save the child."
I can't imagine. My visions of my activities two months after our baby is born consist of things like introducing her to our families over the holidays, feeding her in the middle of the night, trying to sooth her when she's crying, changing exploding diapers, and doing multiple outfit changes in a day. The image of handing her over to another person -- and doing so relatively willingly because it's in her best interest -- is nowhere on my radar screen.
It is the nature of a new mother to worry incessantly over the health of her baby. "She's crying non-stop -- is she okay?" "She's not crying at all -- is she okay?" "She's been sleeping for two hours straight -- is she still alive? Do I need to wake her up to feed her?" The worries can in hindsight, and sometimes even at the time, seem amusing. But worries such as is your newborn baby getting enough to eat and drink, are *you* getting enough to eat and drink so that you can nourish her, and is your baby going to literally die from heatstroke are the complete antithesis of amusing.
They are, literally, a nightmare, one that I kept having over and over last night.
I feel so fortunate and, at the same time, so guilty for feeling fortunate that I am not these people. For knowing that my worries for my baby's health and well-being will, most likely, be of the amusing variant rather than the life-or-death one. You can never predict what will happen to your child or, for that matter, to any of your family members or even yourself on a day-to-day basis, and there's always the chance that something horrible will happen. All that you can do is love your child, care for her, and do the very best that you can for her to the very best of your ability each day.
But my heart breaks for the mother in New Orleans who this week believed that the very best that she could do for her newborn baby was to give her away to another person.