Friday, July 13, 2007

Am I a parent - Part 5

More engineer line of thinking. Pregnancy is like the manufacturing process of a human. Instructions are being carried out, parts are being built, and little by little the ball of cells starts to look like the finished product. Yes, I am exploring this from as many angles as I can come up with. So, when is a car, a car? Is a rolling chassis without an engine a car? Is a fully assembled engine that can be started a car if it does not rest on a frame or it is not surrounded by a body? When is the manufacturing process complete, or complete enough that the manufactured item can be considered to be what it is intended to be. Yes, I know we are talking about human beings, or life, and not an inanimate assembly of parts. But, what is life? Is it a beating heart? Is it breath? Is it autonomous thought? Is it mobility, freedom, the ability to carry out action? When does it begin, when does it end? All very tough questions. What about life support? Is that body that can't pump its own blood or inhale its own oxygen still alive? Is limited brain activity or vegetative state thought of or classified differently if it is occurring in an adult as opposed to a work in progress? Is a pregnant woman analogous to a life support machine to the developing human? Does it make a difference if the rate of change in health is positive vs. negative? Yes, I think this should matter if anything matters. There is a clear difference between a healthy developing or developed human and the terminally injured or ill human. One's all potential, and the other has little to none. Yet, to rank and stratify life doesn't feel right either. Sure there is triage, and "Women and children first", but that doesn't apply to this argument.

When is assembly complete? Clearly it is not full term, not in the 9 months sense, but maybe in a developmental sense. But even then, development (manufacturing) can continue after birth. Is “complete” the time when you can remove it from the process and it can finish on its own, like the roast that you remove from the oven, and it will finish baking as it rests. Certainly mothers and fathers of premies are parents and there is no disputing that. But what if you reach a point in the pregnancy, where it is common for premies to be born and then loose the pregnancy? Now am I a parent?


Kami said...

The easy answer: You just decide. Does it feel good to consider yourself a parent? Then you are. I would be behind someone who never got pregnant saying, "I am a parent. I am just waiting to meet my children." No, I don't believe in the "laws of attraction" stuff, but if putting a label on who we are makes us feel better, why not do it? You don't need to justify it for it to be true. You are a parent. Your pregnancies count. Your "almost babies" count too.

The not so easy answer: I don't know. Does it matter? Should it matter? It is something I have thought much about. I used to consider myself a parent. I guess I often still do, yet I wouldn't join a mom's group or feel that I have anything in common with people who have live children. On the other hand, I have the qualities of a parent. I make decisions about my life for the benefit of our Someday Baby. I am nurturing. I think about how to be a good parent. I imagine the future of our children's lives. How is that different from parents who have live children?

I hope you can find an answer that works for you. I hope the journey through IF ends soon too

Jason said...

After reading the 5 parts so far of "Am I a parent" I would like to offer that you are. If you want to think about it in a pragmatic way then you are a parent because you and your wife most-likely gave birth to your child. I know during the miscarriages that my wife and I have gone thru (including one similar to yours, 12 weeks from LMP but development stopped way before that) my wife still had the developing fetus pass thru her vagina. In this way I would consider the child to be born. I know we mourned as if this was the case.

We've had multiple miscarriages now and it never gets any easier. From the first one where we too named the developing baby and announced that we were pregnant; to the pregnancies that followed where we took a more cautious approach. They've all been just as hard, if not harder as you go along. For me each pregnancy was harder to be happy during because of my fear that it wouldn't last.

Science fails all the time. Every doctor we met with, from ObGyn's to Fertility Specialists, all told us the same thing - "We can do these certain tests, but in the end we may never know exactly why your miscarriages occured." If that isn't one of the most disheartening sentences every uttered! This was the truth in our case, all of the tests came back negative for a cause.

I guess another angle to look at would be the spiritual aspect. I know my faith taught me that life begins at conception so that means I've been a parent 5 times now. I hope that you find your own answer soon.