January 8th, 2011


 I've been thinking about poliphilo 's post from the other day about surrogacy.  I think one of the things is that we in the West - or 1st world - are so used to choice.

My mother says about when she got married you either had children or you didn't.  They were a 'consequence of marriage'.  Certainly before the advent of the NHS in 1947 you wouldn't have looked into your infertility unless you had plenty of money.  It would have been seen as a waste of money to pay a doctor for someone when they were well.  It was only with the advent of good birth control - my mother was on it as soon as she possibly could be - that women started having the choice, this was then extended with the abortion act, ivf and other advances in medicine.

Now we feel that we should have a choice, which of course makes us want to exercise it.  It works in other things too. One might not want to go out anywhere, but persistent snow, or other hazard, which keeps you in,  starts to feel like imprisonment.  Since my stair lift has been broken staying upstairs in the bedroom has become a real pain.  Yet there were quite a few days in a month when I stayed there from choice - but now my choice has been taken away.

Tony gets quite cross at my mother ringing up and dithering on the phone to me, about things that (he thinks) aren't important.  Yesterday, late afternoon, she rang about not being able to get any cash.  My dad is the driver in their family and his health is such that he often can't face going out.  Yesterday was one of those days.  They usually get money when they go shopping, but they're having it delivered these days.  So she rang to ask if I could get her some money, take it round and she would transfer it from her bank to mine.  Thinking she needed money for the hairdressers this morning, I offered to do it there and then,but that wasn't what she wanted.  She really just wanted to know that I could - and would - do it if she asked.

Again, it is setting up choices.  Up until recently she could get in the car and get money whenever she wanted too.  She did say that she wanted to go into Oldham shopping - where she could easily get money - but that isn't what she is used to and hadn't occured to her.  She was thinking that we would be going shopping and would get her cashback when we did.  She has lost her element of choice.  Once I told her it could be done, it was a case of 'okay, leave it for now, your father may be up to going out tomorrow'.  Her mind was at rest.

I try not to be too big a pain about choices.  When I ask Tony what's for lunch, he's often decided and as he's the cook why not.  But there are things I'm fond of that he isn't and vice versa.  I try not to quibble, but sometimes I do feel a bit sulky about the lack of choice.  It's not so much the what as the how.  I am there, usually, when the shopping is done, but it's things like mashed, boiled, baked or roasted potatoes.  Rice or no rice, which is totally unimportant.  It's only that sometimes a choice would be nice.  It's like straws on a camel's back, and sometimes, I admit, I will snap for no reason, over something I'm not even that bothered about, just because I want to make a choice.

Petty, that's what choice is often about, feeling we are missing on our 'rights'.  That we should 'fight for our rights'.  This, I'm afraid, is what has happened with having babies.  They have become an item of choice - a right to choose - which is easily and often taken away from us by Mother Nature - who does, perhaps, know us best.

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