Sunday, March 16, 2008

does anyone else think this is a little odd?

The other day, while we were having brunch and (for some reason) discussing the politics of abortion, my father said, referring to the twins, "Of course, Niobe chose to terminate her pregnancy."*




*Nah, I didn't bother to correct him. For a few different reasons. First, using the term literally, it is true that I chose to "terminate" the pregnancy, since I decided to have a c-section, which the doctors told me was the only way that the remaining twin would have even a chance of surviving. Second, my father finds it all but impossible to assimilate those inconvenient facts that don't fit his view of the world. And, in the end, what difference does it make? Gone is gone.

69 comments:

sweetsalty kate said...

I wouldn't have bothered to correct him, either. If it were my own father I would have smacked him in the face with whatever greasy egg was on my plate.

Really, I mean... REALLY. A thousand what-the-fucks to that.

Why is it that people closest to us are the ones who say the things that push us off the edge of this cliff?

Christ. You could say the same thing about me, just in case you weren't completely, 100% sure that I wasn't completely, 100% f*cked in the head enough as it is already.

I'm sorry niobe. Gone is gone, true enough. But I still say your dad deserves an over-easy smackdown.

thirtysomething said...

I agree with the above commenter. WTF indeed. DAMN.

Rachel said...

Being someone who can't keep her mouth shut, I would have said something. Yes, gone is gone, but sometimes nuance is enormous.

Some choices are black and white.

Other choices are simply not truly choices at all.

I am so sorry. In your place my outrage and grief would have been inconsolable.

Yolanda said...

A little odd? Not the words I'd use. If I were in a constructive mood, I might say, "insensitive." In a self pitying mood, I might say, "heartless." If I tap into that bit of rage that simmers beneath the surface, I'd probably say, "Fucking clueless and downright nasty."

niobe said...

All of you are probably right, but, as is no doubt evident, I have a lot of trouble feeling anger, even when it's completely appropriate. I'm not saying that this is a good thing. In fact, I think it's a bad thing.

But my immediate impulse is to try and figure out where my father got this idea. Perhaps this is the only way he can cope with the situation. Or, since he wouldn't or couldn't visit me while I was in the hospital, maybe this is what he truly believes.

Aurelia said...

But you didn't terminate.

One was stillborn prior to birth, and a termination of the other one would have not only meant a c-section but a procedure I won't completely describe here---basically involving ending that twin's life in utero. There are different ways of doing it, but a c-section at 24 weeks is not a termination, even if it means saving the mothers life. You had an emergency delivery, and perhaps declined to use heroic measures to put the surviving twin on a ventilator, but that is not the same thing as a termination. A c-section prior to 24 weeks, someone could've stretched as a termination, but it really isn't the same thing.

It's just not.

He needs to be corrected by someone in your family, your husband, or perhaps your brother...have you ever wondered if perhaps this is what they thought, and why they are not very supportive? (Which still makes them idiots...but at least it might explain their bizarre behaviour.)

I would've smacked him in the face like Kate advocated---but if you don't feel like it, please make sure someone does correct him.

Aurelia said...

Cross-commenting...sorry!

Elizabeth said...

Gone may be gone either way, but there is something here about how past events are reconstructed in the present, and how those reconstructions occur within networks of relationships. And it seems particularly insensitive to use a mis-reconstructed instance *to make a point* in a debate.

niobe said...

Aurelia: Not that it really matters, but I was 26 weeks pregnant, so the doctors thought that the baby would probably survive. At that gestational age, the procedure you're referring to would be illegal in my state, unless my life was in imminent danger, which it wasn't.

We told the doctors to take all possible measures, including using a ventilator, but I have no idea what they actually did (and I don't want to know).

c. said...

Ummmm, yes I would have found it a little odd! I wonder what prompted him to even think something like that. Semantics??? I would have been terribly upset by such a comment. I am upset for you, in fact.

Eva said...

Is it possible they simply don't understand what actually happened, and that's why they're so insensitive about it? I really can't fathom what they are thinking otherwise. Maybe you could spell it out, or write it out, or have someone else do it--explain what happened, how it makes you feel that it happened, and how it felt then, and how you would prefer they act regarding this issue?

I'm so sorry about this.

Lori said...

Intention matters.

Your intention was to have your babies.

Your intention was not to end your pregnancy. That's what abortion is -- intent to end a pregnancy.

It is a big difference, and your dad should be educated on it.

How that must have hurt you.

tipsymarie said...

I don't know how you are able to speak to or see your family. It seems easy to me to see how you have trouble feeling anger - if you did, you'd be faced with a very complex emotional situation with your family.

Lisa b said...

I am so at a loss for how to understand YOUR FATHER saying and believing this. As for the technicality - it just seems wrong to me and I am finding his resistance of the facts even more sick after reading your comments.

Lisa b said...

I am so at a loss for how to understand YOUR FATHER saying and believing this. As for the technicality - it just seems wrong to me and I am finding his resistance of the facts even more sick after reading your comments.

Magpie said...

Truly odd.

And an elective c-section to deliver a live baby is not a termination, even if the result isn't a bouncing baby heading home with you.

ms. G said...

I was agreeing with Aurelia, and then when I read your reply to her, I agree even more. No, sorry, what happened to you could not in any way shape or form be packaged as termination.

I could go on and on about how clueless and insenstive I think that is, but I think everyone else has already expressed that quite well. I would have had to correct him for those reasons, but honestly, also because it annoys me when people say such ignorant, uneducated statements. I correct people who say "miscarriage" instead of "stillbirth" and I correct people who say things like," there must have been something wrong with the baby" Not necessarily true people!! So, in reading this, I truly have the urge to jump through the screen and correct him. I'm annoyed he even thinks he should participate in a conversation about the politics of abortion when he clearly doesn't even know what termination is.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, Niobe, but your family baffles me.

anaccidentofhope said...

see, I've still been puzzled over what happened about Thankgiving and how you were accused of ruining family gatherings with your grief. And now I think I know why they would have taken that route if this is one of the stories being told about you.

Why, indeed, would you grieve so much over a pregnancy you terminated. Or, rather, why would you expect other people to be sensitive over any grief you felt?

Wow. I mean, just, wow. There is such a world of difference between terminating and what you and your husband and doctors tried to do. And I wish the ivp could come down there and beat him over the head with it, even if it wouldn't do any good...

slouching mom said...

WHAT?
WHAT?
WHAT?

Let me at him. I may be short, but I'm a former gymnast.

As Simon Cowell would say, when he's not sorry at all, "Sorry, BUT..."

That was a VILE thing to say. And incredibly narcissistic.

the dragonfly said...

I would have been horrified, and sickened, and probably said some things I would have regretted later.

I'm sorry. I can't imagine what that was like for you.

Caro said...

Unbelievable. Can I also volunteer to come and explain to him how wrong he is?

luna said...

I agree with all the other commenters, seriously every one of them. I especially like what lori said about intention. in these instances, the sad truth is there is really no choice involved.

I probably would have lost it and had at him (with words). grrr. I'm so sorry you have to deal with that kind of ignorance in your own family ~luna

Gwen said...

I am coming late to this story, but if perception really is reality, at some point, your father needs to be corrected. Because then *you* will, perhaps, get the empathy you need.

All Adither said...

I just came to your blog via Slouching Mom. It is sad and lovely.

Angie
www.AllAdither.com

LawMommy said...

OH my g*d. I think the fact that you didn't slap in the head with a cast iron pan or a tea kettle says much about your self-control.

You're right - gone is gone. But, to my mind - the difference is the difference between a man who shot his wife in the face, and the man who donated his own kidney to try to save his wife's life only to have her die anyway. Both of their wives are gone - but, the motivation is of key importance.

Gretchen

Monica H said...

WHAT!?! "A little odd" is an understatement, but I'm sure you know that.

I don't know how you kept your cool. I would have probably cried, thrown a tantrum, then said a few four letter words. But at the same time I do understand because my father is just as clueless and sometimes it's just not worth the energy to correct his ignorance.

But just for the record, gone maybe gone, but your efforts and intentions were to save those babies, not to terminate. He needs to be educated on the difference- because there is A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

I'm truly sorry and because of the lack of sensitivity your family has shown, I hurt for you. If you have difficulty feeling anger, I'll feel it for you- I have no problem doing that.

And BTW, I think lawmommy said it perfectly! Take care.

Amy said...

To answer your main question Niobe, yes, I do find it a little odd that your father would respond that way.

Where he got the idea that you chose to terminate is beyond any of our comprehension, this is something only he knows. Maybe the question should be asked of him where he got the idea. You were in fact trying to save a life that of one of your children.

I do agree that you have more self control than I but I also have to say in the face of such a tragedy, no one knows how others will respond or see the truth behind what was done.

I am so sorry that family seems to be the ones who don't get it! It makes the road we travel that much more of a pain in the a**.

Thinking of you. Amy

CLC said...

I am so sorry he said this to you Niobe. It seems so mean-spirited, even if that wasn't how it was intended. I am amazed at your self control in that you didn't correct him or slug him. It's expected that you will hear ignorant remarks from people you don't know that well, but it has to really hurt when they come from your family.

Jenny F. Scientist said...

What an insensitive, ignorant comment. "Chose to terminate" means "chose to not have this child." Which is also fine, but that was NOT AT ALL what you were choosing. You were choosing the best chance at life that you had for your children, and you very much wanted to have those children.

Like the rest of the bloggy posse, I am willing to descend upon your family with Nerf bats at any time.

Julia said...

Boy, but that is truly cruel. So freaking mean.

I often have trouble accessing anger on my own behalf, but I am good to go for others. And yet, this leaves me in at least equal measure flabbergasted. Damn! I am sure he wouldn't know what hit him if you did let all of us at him.

Julia said...

Also? There are no birth certificates or death certificates in abortions. Maybe sending him copies of those for your daughter may clear up his very hazy understanding.

That, or a bat to the head. You never know-- that might work too.

susan said...

That moves way beyond odd to completely and utterly nuts. And they find you hard to deal with at family gatherings?!?! That is just nuts.

Anonymous said...

I'm going anonymous for this one.

I know exactly how I would have responded. I would have laughed uncontrollably, which is exactly what I did in a similar situation where a friend made a comment about me sleeping with a certain person when, in fact, I had been repeatedly sexually abused by said person over the course of several years.

What else can you do but laugh?

I mean besides homicidal and suicidal ideation, of course, which are always options.

Tash said...

I'm not sure what's left to be said other than I agree with Aurelia and Kate wholeheartedly: He needs some terminology (and hence, personal history) clarification, and some eggs benedict up the nose.

And please don't get me started. There is the off off chance that I'll get pregnant (stop laughing) and won't discover until upwards of 30w that there's a problem. Believe me, I've asked them these questions. And they tell me this is an entirely possible situation. And I will deliver a baby at that time so we can get the whole thing over with. Which I suppose is "terminating," even if it doesn't involve forceps, and even though the child will die regardless of how long I keep them inside.

Feel free to send any fence sitters my way for an ass whooping.

allypally said...

Does your dad have some control issues? It's almost as if he can't accept the fact that something so bad happened to you. It's like he recasts the twins into some kind of choice you made. I say he's smokong some serious crack, your dad. How can you have anger when people in your family are just so far off the mark and whacked in the head?

My Reality said...

Gone IS gone. Choosing to terminate and the situation you were in are COMPLETELY different.

If you want someone to set your dad straight, I would be more than happy to call or send an email.

And I think you are wrong - you chose to have the c-section. When you terminate a pregnancy, you know the baby will die. Those are the intentions of the person who chooses an abortion. You did not choose for your babies to die. It is so very different.

Artblog said...

Honestly, the first thing to came to mind when I read that it was you dad who said that was, "OHHH!!!".

You should have corrected him, sorry to say, but you should have.

HUGS

Maggie said...

My mouth is literally hanging open. And I'm not defending your father in any way, but I think that you might be right, that he really might not understand the difference. Which ignorance doesn't make it right, but I think that a lot of people just don't get it. Which makes me want to slap them while making faces and asking them what's wrong with them.

What strikes me as odd really is that he used it as part of a conversation, when he clearly doesn't understand what actually happened. But then again, there are lots of people who spout off about things they really don't understand, so maybe it shouldn't be surprising at all. Appalling yes, but maybe not surprising.

Even still, he was wrong. Perhaps not literally, but given the context it was used in, he was wrong. I don't know that I would have corrected him either, only for fear it would turn into a discussion that I might not really want to have. But he was still wrong.

m said...

Yup, gone is gone. My father has skewed perceptions of our losses, and I don't even talk about them with him. He's never asked, I've never told. More for me than him I dare say.
However, if he made a comment like that I'd probably correct him on the word 'chose' - you didn't exactly have a choice...

x

Aurelia said...

Honey,

I knew it was 26 weeks, I think I should've written "after" 24 weeks instead. And you know, even if they did resuscitate the one baby very aggressively, lots of babies may not have made it so I do think he needs to know what happened.

What about sending an email with just what you've written to him and various other family members? They need to know the truth. I worry that someone got this idea in their head, and spread it around your family.

Waiting Amy said...

It DOES make a difference. It is tragic for any woman to have to decide to have a procedure that may result in the loss of her child in order to save another or herself. It is much more complicated than the typical perception of abortion (ie young woman at an inopportune or unfortunate stage in life to have a child).

Gone is gone, Niobe, but it DOES make a difference. I'm sorry.

kalakly said...

It seems to me (and really who cares what I think...but) that it is easier for your 'dad', using the term loosly, to be angry with you than try to understand and wrap his brain around what really happened and why you "chose" to try and SAVE the remaining twin. Maybe understanding those facts are too painful/emotional because then he would have to actually acknowledge his lost grandchildren. You didn't write whther he actually knew and understood what really happened (I assume he does) but if he doesn't, then not only does he deserve to know and be corrected, he needs to. No one with the tiniest of hearts or compassion would ever say such a horrendous thing and if they do, that'd be the last time I broke bread with them, unless it was over their head.

I'm so sorry about your twins, Niobe. Obviously you made the only choice you could, you did what any good mother would have done. No one should ever minimze you like he did, no one.

Climbing off my soapbox now...

Ahuva Batya said...

It does not sound odd. It sounds like denial, but I am a firm believer that a person's right to denial ends the moment that denial causes pain to another. I hope someday you can have that discussion with him, Niobe. I am so very sorry he said something so very hurtful to you.

Karen said...

niobe - listen, it's way more than odd - and I agree with Gwen. I understand why you didn't correct him - but in the end of it all, he needs to face the truth & it seems like maybe you need him to as well? I know that is what I would want from my father.

Becky said...

Everyone else has done a far better job giving your dad a smackdown, so I won't bother.

But I will offer my services to DO WHATEVER YOU WANT ME TO DO.

And that includes making AND sending cookies.

Wabi said...

Well, I've actually had a bonafide "medical termination," and the timing, procedure, all-around scenario, and yes, INTENT, was just different than what went down with you, Niobe. How your father could be unaware of all that leaves me very puzzled. Did he pay attention to ANYTHING related to your loss?

And can I just say that I am pleasantly shocked at the tenor of the comments here? So many people chiming in to give you sympathy and feel angry for what your father said, yet only one rather indirect reference to "real aborters" like me being akin to face shooters. Pretty cool.

Beruriah said...

Christ Niobe that is bizarre. Even as I am adamantly prochoice I do think he is minimizing what you experienced with his phraseology. Not because I think a "termination" would have necessarily been less painful, but just because I know how he has treated you in the past.

If that's really what he thinks happened I think you need to talk it out with him.

thrice said...

Wow, this post just leaves me stinging. Yes, gone is gone. BUT, you are not gone and your love for your children is not gone.

The post just leaves me questioning if you didn't correct your father, because of former abuse, whether it be emotional or physical. That probably is just my own history coming into play, though.

Lori said...

I guess another way to look at it, is to ask whether the comment would have even been appropriate if it were true? And, I would have to conclude, it is still a highly insensitive comment to come out of nowhere in the middle of brunch. Even if you do feel that in some sense you "terminated" your pregnancy, what on earth did he intend to convey with that comment? Was it adversarial? Ignorantly casual? What was the point?!?!

I'm sorry, Niobe.

Amanda said...

Your decision was not at all a termination of pregnancy in an abortive sort of way. Yes, technically you opted to end your pregnancy, but as a life-saving measure, not as a measure to end life. He absolutely needs to be corrected.

Regardless, like you said, gone is gone. Sometimes it's just not worth the fight.

Cibele said...

I am sorry that you have to hear comments like that! Hugs

Furrow said...

I'm just speechless. Sorry a thousand times that this shit still goes on with people who should know better.

Patti said...

Oh man, I totally understand this, lady.

When trying to describe to my sister-in-law how I had to chemically induce my miscarriage (because the baby was long gone), she interrupted me and told me she didn't want to hear it, because she has strong feelings against abortion.

I was speechless, but Idid wonder if she had any idea at all what I had been through.

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

I literally lept from my seat when I read your father's comment. I think I wanted to hit someone. I am so so so sorry. That must have stung......

Your "choice" does not, in any way, match the colloquial understanding of "choosing to terminate one's pregnancy."

I am sorry.

XOXO

Clementine said...

I'm horrified. Dumbstruck and horrified. I'm so very sorry, Niobe.

Amelie said...

Incredible. That's wrong on so many levels. I'm sorry, Niobe. And no-one bothered to correct him? Or was nobody around that knew better?

delphi said...

When you post the words that your parents direct at you, I am always left dizzy with disbelief. Wow.

delphi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maddie's Mom said...

I don't know why I still get amazed at the stupid things people say. Your dad reminds me of my former therapist that used to say things like that about my daughter. She's my former therapist because I didn't feel like kicking her ass all over her office and going to jail.

Tricia said...

I'm sorry and thank you for the thoughts today.

wannabe mom said...

yes, it's odd. i'm sorry your father is the way he is, obviously in denial. there is a huge difference, even though the end result is the same.

hugs to you, niobe.

Christine said...

hear that? that was my jaw hitting the floor.

Running on empty

akeeyu said...

WTF?

Uh, do you need me to come over with another flaming bag of poo for someone's doorstep? I mean, damn.

kate said...

This is truly bizarre. I agree with Kate, Aurelia et al about the need for a serious smackdown here.

I personally would be somewhat curious where he got this idea. Did he make it up in his own head (like my mother when she insisted my son was stillborn because i had had too many house guests)? Or is it because of something incorrect that your family believes as a whole? If i were you i would do some digging into this....

Judith van Praag said...

Wow! Analysis of that short sentence may give the answer to the why of your mother's trip to Las Vegas so many years ago (only discovered your blog today, but have been looking around).

Eva suggests writing a letter. I think that's a very good idea. It'll help you get words directed at him/them off your mind, onto the paper and sending a copy to everybody in the family will set them straight all at once.

Then they can talk among themselves about your message, and hopefully draw some conclusions as to how to act a compassionately as anybody with some humanity ought to under these circumstances.

Ignorance, lack of information, insensitivity, FEAR, denial, even their own pain and anger must or might be keeping them and especially him from giving you the support you ought to be getting. Sometimes people don't know which feelings are what and whom they ought to be directed at. It's shortsighted to direct them at you of course, but that's what ignorance does, shooting from the hip without a clue.

All this said I have to admit my own sentiments concerning the sensitivity of relatives are not of the most favorable kind.

You sure don't need any kind of negative input at the moment (or ever). Surround yourself with people who care and understand. I love the note on your blog about receiving gifts by snail mail from fellow bloggers!

Perhaps education will help those who don't have a clue as yet.
Letter may help.
My thoughts go out to you and your partner and to those little stars of yours.
Other than that, your blog is wonderful, filled with beautiful writing.
{{{Niobe}}}

SaraS-P said...

Ouch.

Infant death is the ultimate elephant in the room.

There are so many wrong concepts in that sentence, I can't even begin...

Kami said...

That is horrible. Yeah, I would have asked, "What do you mean my that?" and "How do you see it?" THEN I would have told him off.

Lee said...

How did you not go abso-fuckin-lutely insane on that guy?

(father, friend, stranger, whatever...)

IN-SANE

Lee said...

How did you not go abso-fuckin-lutely insane on that guy?

(father, friend, stranger, whatever...)

IN-SANE