Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mama Drama

Apparently the online feminist community is all atwitter about NYU prof Katie Roiphe's article on Hanna Rosin's site Double X. Maybe it's because I'm not much of a feminist, but I enjoyed this brief piece and can't really see what the hubbub is all about. 

I imagine a better metaphor would be addiction. There is an opium-den quality to maternity leave. The high of a love that obliterates everything. A need so consuming that it is threatening to everything you are and care about. Where did your day go? Did you stare blankly at the baby for hours? And was that staring blankly more fiercely pleasurable, more compelling than nearly anything you have ever done?

One of the minor dishonesties of the feminist movement has been to underestimate the passion of this time, to try for a rational, politically expedient assessment. Historically, feminists have emphasized the difficulty, the drudgery of new motherhood. They have tried to analogize childcare to the work of men; and so for a long time, women have called motherhood a "vocation." The act of caring for a baby is demanding, and arduous, of course, but it is wilder and more narcotic than any kind of work I have ever done.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Otty Sanchez

How Could a Mother Eat Her Own Baby?
The story of Otty Sanchez taps deep veins, unfolding like a Greek tragedy: A new mother breaks with her lover three weeks after giving birth to their child. Insane with grief, she hears voices telling her to kill her baby -- the fruit of their union. After murdering the infant, she begins to consume him, returning him to the body from whence he so recently came. In a moment of clarity she sees what she has done. Horrified, she tries to take her own life, stabbing herself in the heart and slitting her own throat.

I only heard of this yesterday -- and not the whole story.

This article is the first I've read of what happened. It's gruesome and hard to understand how anyone can do this - but that's coming from a woman who does not have mental illness.

Even more questions plague me. Should we not allow those who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness (i.e. those that cause delusions and severe paranoia) to become parents unless they can prove they are continuing to take their prescribed drugs? How does the zigzagging of hormones intensify mental illness and why aren't the physicians doing a better job of monitoring this?

This is a doozy of a case - one straight out of the depths of our worst nightmares - so clearly it's being heavily followed by the media. But could this be more common than we think? Could other less dramatic cases of infanticide being improperly labeled as SIDS or whatever simply because our system of dealing with mental health problems AND (pregnant) women is so flawed?