Thursday, February 06, 2014

She Didn't Want A Child. Just A Baby.

I'm coming round to thinking that a common problem in society is girls who want a baby, but don't want children.

I had a young boy stay for a while who I had to take to contact, his pregnant mother had made it clear she was going to continue getting pregnant because she "wanted a girl". She already had a clutch of boys, the youngest of whom was a toddler. She gave birth to the baby, a boy, and social workers told us she pretty much blanked the other children, because she could only see herself as a mother of a baby -even if it was the "wrong" sex, as far as she was concerned.

For some people it's the other way around; newborn babies are a bit boring by comparison to infant children. They sleep, eat, cry, and make wetness; a lot of wetness. When my own children were babies I remember a massive sense of love and responsibility, as you'd expect. But I also rejoiced at every sign my baby was growing into a person.

That first smile of recognition (as opposed to wind). A look of understanding in their eyes that the thing coming towards them is their feed. A grab on your finger. The first turnover onto their tummy.

There aren't words to describe their first words.

So what is it with these girls who have a baby, then as soon as the baby begins to become an infant, they kind of put the little one aside and get pregnant again?

Is it that these girls believe deep down they can only cope with providing what amounts to simple (but crucial) needs; feeding, changing, sleeping? 

Is it that a baby is reminiscent of the soft toys or cuddly pets that were their childhood companions?

Maybe the reason is that little babies get lots of attention from friends and relatives, lots of visits from nice ladies in uniform. Newborn babies start to lose their native appeal for strangers at about 9 months old. Shame, just when they are becoming aware of people, some people start paying them less attention.

Is it that children are too complicated for them, requiring non-stop concentration and devotion in order to understand them. Children, especially infant children, need to be nurtured and policed all the while, for their own safety as much as to ensure they develop a good perspective on the world. You can't "put them down for a sleep" (I hate that phrase) while you go out for a smoke or have a game of internet bingo or whatever, no matter how great your need to inhabit your own head for 10 minutes.

Infant children need their parents switched onto them every second they are awake, and yes it's exhausting, but it's also brilliant, better than anything, and I mean anything on earth, isn't it?

Maybe this deficient approach to mothering is a reflection of their own mothers. Present day society has largely dispensed with having at least one pair of grandparents on hand to help with support and advice. Shame, but maybe it could work to the advantage of babies whose grandparents were hopelessly inadequate.

Is it that these girls don't like people. Perhaps they have good reason to be wary of humans. A baby can't hurt or humiliate them. Perhaps it's a negative type of appeal; they love babies not because they are babies, but because they aren't full-on people.

Tragically, I suspect a big reason is that their infant children disappoint them. The child isn't the doting, eternally grateful, permanently photogenic social kingpin they expect. So, they say to themselves "Let's try again. Maybe we'll be lucky next time".

What's to be done?

Ideally it's that old Tony Blair (remember him?) mantra of Education, Education, Education. Everybody should be learning all the time, only for some people learning is imperative. Pilots can't rely on what comes naturally to land a plane. Some mums need help. Education. Training. Support.

In reality the solutions seem to lie in intervention, assessment, and if necessary a Care Order.

But will the girl who has just had her infant taken away be supported so she doesn't do the thing she has always done, namely have another baby?

Well, my social worker tells me there's a procedure available which prevents pregnancy for 3 years.

But I suppose everyone is scared of the controversy which would blow up if they started pursuading girls to use it.

In the end there's not enough cash in the bank for proper support and education, and not enough courage to grasp the nettle of promoting industrial contraception.

So it's left to you-know-who to do a job, whether it's trying to help a mother be a mother of her baby, or foster a child who has known little love and devotion and is showing he hallmarks of attachment deficit.

It's left to You. Assuming you are a foster carer.

Or Soon-To-Be-You, if you're thinking to sign up.


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