by Alice Eve Cohen
She didn't want the baby. Her first thought was to abort it, and later when she found out the myriad problems her infant could have- due to the fact that she had no prenatal care for six months, had been drinking and taking hormone supplements, etc. etc.- to possibly put it up for adoption. To make matters more complicated, she had awful insurance that wouldn't cover the medical costs and extreme difficulty finding a doctor willing to take her as a high-risk patient. It was overwhelming. I can't imagine having to fight the medical establishment for care while at the same time struggling with feelings of ambivalence towards the unborn child itself. Even after her baby was born (with unexpected health issues) she struggled to find love in her heart for it and wrestled with postpartum depression.
What I Thought I Knew must have been an incredibly painful book to write. I can't imagine going through what she experienced. The issues of her considering aborting or adopting out her child didn't bother me so much as the indifferent attitude of medical and insurance people. I couldn't believe that a gynecologist examined her at five months and didn't recognize she was pregnant! That infuriated me. And I was most disturbed by the lawsuit at the end of the story, where in order to pay for medical costs that were sinking her family, she had to go to court and present a wrongful-life case. Which basically states that if the doctors hadn't erred in not detecting her pregnancy for six months, she would never had had a child, that this baby shouldn't have been born. Can you imagine being that child, growing up and discovering that your mother went to court suing that you shouldn't have been allowed to live? Of course the author discusses how she struggled with that herself, but she really could see no other way to get money to pay for the astronomical medical costs. Still, it was the part of the book that I stewed over the most.
Somehow, I was expecting a bit more depth from this book. I breezed right through it; the storytelling is quick and vivid, the words flow easily. It's a book that can tear at your emotions and leave you closing the last page too quickly. I longed for just a bit more introspection, to slow me down and keep me immersed in the book longer. Yet I heartily admire the author for writing and sharing with all us readers what must have been a harrowing time in her life, and her complete honesty in sharing her ambivalent feelings and depression in the face of what many women would greet with unrestrained joy.
Rating: 3/5 ....... 194 pages, 2009
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