I am currently reading the Honour by Elif Shafak, and somewhere in the beginning it talks about a woman who is having her 9th child and is confident it’s going to be a boy after 8 girls. So when, for unforeseen reasons, complications develop at the time of birth, the woman forbids the midwife to save her, and asks for the baby to be saved instead – because she thinks its a boy. Tragically, both mother and baby die (the baby was a girl but this post is not about the sex of a child).
Having grown up in the 80s, watching Bollywood (Indian) movies, this scenario is not new to me. Most movies would depict a scene where the dying wife would elicit a promise from her husband – “No matter what happens, you have to save our baby”.
Thank goodness for the medical advancements today, such situations are not so common anymore and the likelihood of me facing one are rather slim. However, it still set me thinking – if I were having a baby, and for some reason, the doctor was to save only one of us, who would it be?
Now I can see a lot of mothers and parents saying – the baby obviously. Here, I beg to differ and I have my reasons. It is not a moral, ethical or religious consideration for me – its practical. While ofcourse I would love my unborn baby and would want to bring her/him into this world, what good is it going to be for the child if it lost the mother in the process? It may sound rather selfish to most and you may say that a child can very well grow up without the mother. But in all honesty, its not an easy task being a single parent and that too, of an infant. There is always the argument that there are lots of single fathers who are doing a commendable job with their kids. But has anyone asked them, if they had been given a choice, who would they choose? In most cases, its not their choice (it would be unfair and unjust to ask a husband/father to choose between his wife and child) but rather the circumstances that have forced them to become single parents.
A more important consideration for me would be if we already have other children. For the sake of an unborn child, would it be fair to knowingly deprive them of their mother? They are sure feel the loss of their mother more than that of a sibling they never knew.
But then of course, the husband could remarry and provide the child with a complete family. True – but can you be sure that the ‘new mom’ would be able to give your baby the same kind of love? It’s possible that my worst fears come true and that my child, for who I sacrificed my life, would rather live anywhere but with the new mom. I may sound rather paranoid here but then which mother isn’t?
As a woman and mother, my responsibility does not end with just giving birth. In fact it only just begins there. Caring and providing for the baby, shaping and molding him/her to become a good person, are few of the many responsibilities I share with my husband. So how can I leave him alone in this and assume it’s fair to him?
So rather than putting my husband and my family through a life that may not work out in the best interest of anyone, I choose to be selfish. I choose myself. Because I know that its the only way I can guarantee that my child will get the very best – what he/she truly deserves.
What would you do?