Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our child

My wife went to the doctor while I was working, and found out that a genetic heart problem that was present in her family is affecting her, too. Her retaining water, having difficulty breathing and her accelerated heartbeat were all signs of the problem, and her getting pregnant just brought all of this to the surface. She started crying, scared that she was going to die and sad that we had to abort the baby for this. I held her hand and comforted her.

I didn't cry at all this night. It isn't because I don't care about how our child will die in less than a week, or because I wasn't worried about my wife. I want both of them to live. I don't really know why I just felt resigned, but I can hazard a guess:

This kind of situation has been present with me for nearly my entire life. My desires, my wishes, my hopes for myself and everyone around me, have been almost universally chained to something else: my parents' chaos, my depression, my marriage, I've scarcely had a choice regarding how anything unfolds. When she told me what would happen, I felt scared for my wife and the baby, but those feelings were couched in absolute powerlessness.

I've lived so long with these feelings of helplessness and being carried along by the overbearing, unbreakable control of the circumstances of life and the people around me, that I guess I felt this was just another in a long string of situations where I was allowed to do nothing more than sit down and watch events unfold. I wanted to find a way to save everybody, to work harder at my job to make the money needed for an operation, anything.

But, as ever, I'm a slave to circumstances: I can't fight genetics, I can't place an ectopically impregnanted child in the right place, and I can't ask my wife to put her life on the line to try to bring our child into the world. Our son needs her, and it's impossible for her to have our child anyway. Even if the baby shows up on the sonogram in the next few days, it changes nothing; Peanut and my wife would both die on the operating table next year.

It would be misleading to say that I would trade my life for my wife, or Peanut's. Death carries hugely negative consequences, like never seeing my family as they are now, ever again, leaving my son without his father, and leaving everyone with debts they can't pay off. But at least it's a terribly dark cloud with a small silver lining: I wouldn't be married anymore.

Rather, I would live another hundred years as a married man, if it meant I could give Peanut a single day of life. In a way, Peanut has done this for us by saving my wife's life, revealing the nature of my wife's serious illness before it became terminal.

But I can't do anything for our child. The choice is out of my hands. Come next Tuesday, if nothing improves, the baby will die. And I'm powerless to do anything about it.

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