Mom says she’d choose her life over her child’s and is shamed for it

Jan. 10, 2020
Mom says she’d choose her life over her child’s and is shamed for it

A mom on Reddit has opened up about the impossibly difficult choice she asked her husband to consider while planning the delivery of their first child. In a now-viral post, the mom revealed she instructed her husband that, should he be forced to make a decision between her life and their child’s life in the delivery room, he should choose to keep her alive. And now that the couple’s first child is 2 years old and they’re hoping to conceive a second, her wishes remain firm — that if a choice needs to be made, her husband should choose her over their second child. Her honest confession has started a tense conversation about pregnancy complications and how we value the lives of mothers and babies.

The mom, who goes by the username Aithana on Reddit, writes that she was recently out with friends and discussing her plans to try for a second child. While talking about her previous pregnancy complications and the delivery of her firstborn, the mom got real with them about her instructions to her husband, should they find themselves in a childbirth emergency.

“When my friend asked me if I was ready for another 9 months of pregnancy and how I felt, I answer[ed] truthfully, ‘cause honestly I was just letting all the fears and doubts go,” she writes. “I said that I do want another baby, and that pregnancy doesn’t scare me such as giving birth again. I said that I straight told my husband that I’m scared that something may happen to me during the birth, and in the hopes of giving my daughter a sibling, I could leave her without a mother … he needs to choose me if that’s the case.”

The mom writes that her friends were “disgusted,” called her names and accused her of not caring about her baby’s life. But she says her reasons for worrying about this issue are purely rooted in looking out for her husband and her firstborn daughter.

“I’m a person that likes to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best,” she writes. “I didn’t want my husband to be blindsided with who to choose and to have the answer on the spot. Nobody likes to think of what could go wrong, especially in a pregnancy, but I need to think [of] every possible case that we could encounter.”

The mom’s post has been met with strong reactions. A lot of people are applauding her for being willing to consider such a difficult situation and for thinking about what is best for her family.

“As awful as it is to think about, your spouse should know your wishes during these types of situations,” one commenter writes. “It's similar to end-of-life care, extreme life-saving/life-preserving measures, etc. in that your next of kin should know what you would want if you are unable to make the decision yourself … These are conversations that are necessary to have, especially when faced with an already difficult pregnancy/birth.”

Another person writes, “I’m appalled your friends are so callous with your life that somehow you don’t matter, and your husband should have to raise two kids on his own at all costs, should he be in a terrible position to have to choose. I can’t imagine that wouldn’t break him and hurt your kids. It’s better to have a plan and discuss these things in advance. Your life isn’t meaningless, and you’re not here just here to reproduce at all costs.”

Not everyone has been understanding. One person writes, “You’re supposed to love your baby more than life, and I’m sure by now you do, but you didn’t seem to take the time to consider that that’s his child, and he was probably hurt by the fact that you aren’t willing to sacrifice your own life for a piece of him and a piece of you to live on.”

Others are chastising the mom for sharing her plans with her friends, and for even thinking about this hypothetical scenario in the first place. “This is why you don’t tell people your business,” scolds one commenter.

Another adds, “It's almost 2020, and medicine is too advanced for you to even have to discuss this.”

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 700 U.S. women die each year as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. And a 2018 report by the Commonwealth Fund found that American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy and birth-related complications out of 11 high-income countries.

The maternal mortality rate also seems to be rising. From 1991 to 2014, the U.S. maternal mortality rate more than doubled, jumping from 10.3 deaths per 100,000 live births to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. And women of color are disproportionately affected by rising maternal mortality rates. Black women in the U.S. are, on average, four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.

The causes of maternal mortality vary. The CDC notes that cardiovascular conditions, hemorrhages and infections are among the leading causes of death during pregnancy and delivery. They also note that chronic health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension can increase a pregnant woman’s risk of death.

There’s also a lack of adequate care for pregnant and birthing women. A 2017 CDC Foundation analysis of maternal mortality data from four U.S. states identified more than 20 “critical factors” that contribute to pregnancy-related deaths. Among those factors, they found maternal death is often associated with health providers’ inadequate clinical skills, lack of standardized hospital policies, failure to consult specialists and poor coordination of medical care.

Maternal mortality is a subject no parent wants to think about, particularly when they are talking about a potential pregnancy or trying to prepare for what everyone hopes will be the joyful occasion of welcoming a new baby into the world. But the research on maternal mortality proves this mother’s fears about childbirth are not entirely unfounded.

Mothers in the U.S. — and all over the world — continue to face significant risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and carefully considering those risks is something each parent must do on their own terms. This mom is making an effort to educate herself and create a plan, and that’s the most anyone can do when considering the risks, benefits, struggles and joys of becoming a parent.

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