Mom was nearly ecstatic. She was the type of woman that every obstetrician and neonatologist has seen, a woman who just can't seem to have full term children. Her first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. Her second pregnancy ended with a stillbirth at 28 weeks gestation, and now this pregnancy ended at 26 weeks with a tiny baby who didn't grow very well inside her. I remember her speaking to me about this, about her discouragement and fear that she would never be able to have a baby. I sympathized with her frustration; fortunately, having normal babies was never a problem for me, but I can imagine the heartache that it must be, since the ability to have and raise children is such an integral part of our being. As I mentioned, we see women like this fairly often, women who have the burden of either difficulty conceiving or difficulty carrying a child to a viable gestation.
There was one thing different about this mother of the 26 weeker, though, something that made it a little harder for me to drum up the usual sympathy. She was 20 years old and single.
When she spoke to me about her problems with pregnancies, it once again pointed out to me how different the subculture she lived in was from mine. Worrying about carrying pregnancies at age 20? A 20 year old single woman has no business getting pregnant, not even once, let alone three times by that age. Once again, my compassion was mixed with a good dose of frustration. We humans can be so similar, yet so far apart.