I decided last weekend that I would start writing in this blog again. I stopped for two reasons: One, I felt I could only write authentically about people I knew, and I didn’t feel comfortable exposing people I knew to public view. Two, the main reason I had wanted to write was to share the knowledge I worked hard to gain over the years, but I suddenly felt like waving the white flag. Even people in my immediate environment, and who therefore had a good chance of sharing the same questions and a similar path, just weren’t curious. If that was the case, what was the point.
In our neighboring village a 17-year-old girl got pregnant. She had always been very overweight, extraordinarily pear-shaped, sullen. She finished her Hauptschule (10th grade), and got involved with boys (though the kind of boy who liked her and his motives for inviting her out to a group bonfire in the woods always alarmed me). After school, she started a home economics training course, but ended it. She started a geriatric-care course, and ended it. She started a low-level hospital care trainee program, and there she met a boy with a baby face and a 10th grade education. They moved into a room together. She got pregnant. She ate lots of chips and fast food. She gained more weight.
Through her classmate I sent her some pregnancy yoga books, some that I thought would have a chance of being looked at. Through her classmate, I tried to encourage her to take a birth preparation course, anything that would foster her bond to the baby. The messages I received back were grim. “Our friends are all saying ‘don’t nurse, you’ll ruin your breasts'”. “She wants her mother to take care of the baby so she can go out”. All through the last 6 months I’d cautiously inquire and receive some sort of statement and try to respond with something calming. I figured, well, maybe something would sink in, even something as basic as rubbing oil on her belly to ease dry skin and help against pregnancy stretch lines.
She never did attend a pre-natal yoga or breathing course. She told her friend how scared she was of the pain she kept hearing others talk about. She was watching birth shows on trash television. A C-section was almost pre-programmed. And, a lack of breastfeeding was also pre-programmed.
Indeed, the baby was born by caesarean section, labor having being induced because of the danger of eclampsia, forewarned by her doctor. The baby developed an infection because her immune system wasn’t well-developed. She was very weak. She was taken to intensive care in another hospital. Within the week, she grew stronger and was able to go home. Breastfeeding, though, ‘didn’t work’.
The story of the 17-year-old and her baby has another, very positive, side to it, which I’ll talk about in later posts. For now, I’ll just say that I was saddened by the fact that the mother was so young and felt so helpless yet sated herself with the least helpful kind of food and information. In theory, she could have done it all so differently, but in reality was held tight by her fear and lack of education.
And it is in story after story like this, that I began to feel ‘what is the point’? They don’t listen anyway.