When someone is dying of a terminal illness, it’s hard on the whole family. They want to do whatever they can to help support the person and try and make the rest of their life as happy as possible. But what if the only thing the person dying wants is to be a mom?
This incredibly sad post on Reddit’s AITA board will break your heart. If a dying family member wanted to borrow your baby so she could get the experience of mothering, would you say yes?
“I have a cousin by marriage (husband’s cousin) that’s 22 and dying of cancer. It was always her dream to marry and be a mom and now that’s not going to happen. It’s hard on everyone. She has a much older fiance (30) and they had a symbolic wedding so she could have the experience. They started looking for ways to get access to a baby that she could take care of and experience some level of child care that way, but with 2020 and ethics in general, there’s not a lot of ways to do that safely. My husband and I have the first and so far only children of our generation, who are 10 months and 23 months old,” the OP says.
“I had hopes that it wouldn’t happen, but her parents asked me if she/they could borrow my younger baby for ‘a few weeks.’ The cousin and her fiance would basically be playacting having a baby. Her parents would also join in on pretending. There would be photoshoots and everything. This makes me really uncomfortable. It’s really creepy. I cannot understate how creepy I think this is. I know that her not getting to live her dreams is sad, but I don’t think this is the answer.”
As a mother who has struggled with fertility issues, I understand wanting to have a baby so badly. But I also couldn’t imagine giving my baby away for a few weeks. To make matters worse, the OP says the baby is still nursing, but her family doesn’t seem to care about that. The OP is mostly worried it will be traumatic for her baby to be separated from her and with a family that is new and strange.
The OP is also worried that “this is setting a dangerous precedent of my child living under other guardianship. Her parents will have time to get attached and they could try to use that for familial pressure if not legally. Her fiance is also a wild card in that regard.” I’m not super sure what that means, but I’m confident you can’t just take a baby because you want to. And if someone tried…yikes.
“I said no, and my husband’s entire family is hounding us about this because her time is running out and it’s time sensitive. They say we’re being selfish. They say that we could use this as a free vacation and bond with our older child because I ‘popped them out so close together.’ They want to compromise now by letting me come by a few times a day to bring milk. We still don’t want to do this.”
Redditors were pretty adamant that the OP stands her ground and refuses to give her baby to her cousin.
“You are never the a**hole for not loaning your baby for a 3 week make believe photo shoot. What your cousin is going through is tragic but this is insane. Hard no and never feel guilty about this,” said anabolic_beard.
“I can’t imagine pretending another women’s baby is yours for a few weeks will actually help her come to terms with the fact she will be unable to have kids and raise them. If anything, I think she’d feel worse. The fact that her family is buying into this nonsense is not doing her any good,” noted emmy1418.
“My dear poor harried Internet stranger, please don’t let them into your head. Look at how you phrased this question: ‘not letting my cousin experience motherhood.’ Life did that, and it sucks, but you didn’t do that. This question would more reasonably be phrased “not wanting to be separated from my 10-month-old baby for months so that my cousin and her fiance can pretend it’s theirs.” That’s a totally reasonable position! Grief can make people lose their minds a bit, especially when you’re watching cancer destroy a young life that was full of promise. I’m not saying that they are horrible people, but they are letting grief dictate their actions in wildly unreasonable ways. I know it’s terrible to see cancer destroy your daughter’s life and her hopes of being a mother, but the answer is not to relentlessly hound a young mother to give up her child to you – and with some pretty damned dehumanizing language, because that ‘popped them out’ crap is just crude and cruel. I know that they are angry with life and with the injustice of their daughter’s early death, but don’t let them convince you that it’s reasonable for them to turn that anger and resentment around on you. If you can, try to see them as people whose reason is coming apart in the face of this terrible loss. Speak to them as kindly as you can, but remember that they are not behaving rationally and you should not go along with their demands. Empathize with their grief, but don’t tell yourself that you have to cure it; unfortunately, nothing can. The best thing you can do is to urge them to seek professional help in dealing with this extremely painful loss and to be polite, gentle, but absolutely immovable on the topic of splitting up your own family,” advised Terpsichorean_Wombat.
“Are they just expecting you to not see your own child for a few weeks? NTA NTA NTA. Babies are constantly changing and learning. They are asking for you to miss some on those moments which you will never get back,” said happymom94.
“It’s very saddening that your cousin is dying of cancer, but you don’t need to spend a few weeks with a baby just to feel like a mother. When my cousin had his first child, simply holding her made me feel a specific responsibility that I’d never felt before. She’s not my child, but she’s family, and in my opinion, until I actually have a child of my own, that is the only motherly protection I know right now and it’s all I need,” said gonzaliz.
“It goes without saying that what’s happening to your cousin-in-law is very tragic, but it is wrong for anybody to expect you to temporarily give up your baby, who you are still at a crucial part of the whole mother/baby bonding for her. The grief of losing his as good as wife will be traumatic enough on her finance without adding the potential pain of having to hand the baby back once she’s gone,” explained luciejbetts.
What would you do in such a fraught situation?