Have you seen little man? No, not that piece of crap with Marlon and Shawn Wayans. I mean the documentary by Nicole Conn.
Nicole and her partner, Political Activist Gwen Baba, had been together seven years and had a daughter, Gabrielle. When they decide to have a second child, they opened all kinds of doors. Gwen had carried Gabrielle, and felt she was too old for another pregnancy. So, they decided to use a surrogate.
The pregnancy was fraught with problems and their son, Nicholas, was born 100 days early - a micro-premie. He weighed one pound. His heart was the size of a cashew.
Nicholas goes through medical procedure after medical procedure - because science and medicine "can" keep a fetus alive. But at what price do we hold onto life? Nicole is faced with the question that haunts in the night: When does caring become cruelty?In the film, Nicole talks about timing. When they learned that the fetus was not growing properly, Gwen wanted to consider abortion. When the baby was born, Gwen was terrified of the efforts that would be required to keep this baby alive. But Nicole said that had Nicholas been their first child, she would have agreed with Gwen - but having their daughter, Gabrielle, changed that. She could not terminate the pregnancy, nor could she turn her back on what she termed "her son's need to be here."
Their marriage is pushed to the edge. How do they manage to keep some semblance of normal life for their daughter, while Nicole spends nearly all her time at the hospital with Nicholas? He was in the hospital for 158 days; when he came home, he was hooked to oxygen, and continued to require special attention. The question is raised, again and again, when is enough, enough?
The film disturbed me to my very core. Oh, man, is that an understatement. It caused me to look at all kinds of philosophical issues, and examine my beliefs deeply. This film was the darling of the GLBT Film Festivals, as well as several other independent festivals. So for me to say I didn't like it one bit will probably label me as homophobic; I am not. The "pro-life" crowd already hates me, because I believe in a woman's right to choose. But guess what? That means a woman can choose to have the child against medical advice, just as she can choose to abort.
In his first month of life, Nicholas endures four surgeries, two codes, chest compressions, ventilators, needles in every vein, collapsed lungs, excreting feces from his stomach which caused 8 centimeters to be removed from his intestines, blood transfusions, intubations, kidney failures, and a spinal tap. How much is too much? How much can a mother watch? Doctors often remark “they don’t feel pain the way we do.” But how do they know? Is it simply a defense against the indefensible? Can anyone define the line between caring and cruelty?
Nicholas survived, against all odds. Nicole and Gwen are still together, their family of four living happily in the Los Angeles area. Nicholas wears glasses, hearing aids, doesn't speak, has all kinds of challenges. He will need constant care for his entire life. The financial cost is huge. The emotional cost was huge. Nicole said the experience truly brought her to faith.
Faith in what? In a higher power? Is that higher power the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit? Because if left to nature, this child would not have survived. He would not have been born. He would not exist.
Remember Terri Schiavo? Of course you do. Her parents set up a foundation that is “Helping Families Fight for Those Who Cannot Fight for Themselves”.
The mission of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation is to develop a national network of resources and support for the medically-dependent, persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations. Promoting a Culture of Life, “Terri’s Foundation” embraces the true meaning of compassion by opposing the practice of euthanasia.How much is too much? If someone is terminal, is it really compassionate to keep them alive by extraordinary means? How many of these self-declared compassionate people have no qualms about the death penalty? Hunting? War?
Nicholas lives with his mothers and sister. He is shown in the film laughing, smiling, loved. Yes. Both his mothers love him. Gwen came to terms with his survival, and loves him without regret. In Nicholas's case, science and medicine and Nicole's dogged determination to pull him through gave him life. Nicole attributes this all to God and to Nicholas's will to live, but I don't agree. His life is his because of science, because of her obsession. Don't mix god up with her selfish need to see this child come to be.
Yes. Selfish. That's how I saw her. Forgive me for my harsh judgment, but there it is. I saw her as selfish as Terri Schiavo's parents.
But Terri Schaivo's husband was equally selfish, as was Gwen Baba, who did not want to put Nicholas through that ordeal. Because it is impossible to NOT be selfish in these situations. Nobody has the ability to make an impartial decision - it is your child, your spouse, your partner, your family at risk and you cannot be impartial or dispassionate. And the decisions and choices are so incredibly personal that WE, on the outside, have no right to intervene or make laws or dictate.
I may not agree with your decision, but it is yours to make, yours to live with, yours to process. Just as my decisions are mine. Don't bring god's will into the mix. Not one of us has spoken to god directly - unless you're off your meds - and while we can ask for direction, and ask for guidance, at the end of the day the decision to pull the plug or not rests with an individual, a person. Not god.