Monday, January 9, 2012

Dear Beyonce

I haven't written since November and I'd like to say that I'm getting back into it, but I make no promises. 
The events of this past weekend and these articles have given me good enough reason to take to my keyboard and write a bit.

Dear Beyonce,

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!  I hope that you and your family are settling in nicely and have been able to spend time together getting to know your new little bundle.  Welcome to the world of Motherhood and all that it brings with it.

I have a bone to pick with you, and your husband, though.

I've read the articles and heard the reports.  You and your husband paid a lot of money to ensure that you and your newborn have had the utmost privacy.  It's funny, when my husband and I welcomed each of our 4 kids we wanted privacy, too.  It's a time in your life, as a family, when you want to hunker down and get to know your new baby and protect them as much as possible.  I appreciate your desire to exhaust all of your resources to make sure that privacy happened. 

What I do not appreciate is the way that you taking your privacy has directly and negatively impacted other families experiencing the same life changing event as your family.

Maybe if my family and I had the kinds of money and resources that yours has we may have acted in the same way and paid enormous amounts of cash to block off areas to protect ourselves and our children.  I doubt it, though.

Maybe if I were as famous as you and your husband are I would recognize that my newborn child would be more popular than Jesus Christ and feel the need to remove other patients' family members from waiting rooms to preserve our privacy.  I doubt it, though.

Maybe if I were having my first child all over again my motherly instinct or my husband's fatherly instinct would be so overwhelmingly strong that I would feel the need to place bodyguards at all entrances to the hospital, floor, ward and nursery, as well.  I doubt it, though.

Beyonce, I know that I can't begin to understand what it's like to be you or your husband.  I cannot begin to fathom what constant paparazzi presence is like. Nor can I begin to know what it's like to have your every move, decision and garment choice scrutinized day in and day out.  I cannot say that I know what it's like to be able to spend over one million dollars on a nursery or what it feels like to have my music played on the radio and, well, everywhere else.

But Beyonce there is something that you and I can both now say we know something about and that is being a mom.  The moment your daughter let out her first cry- or really long before that- you joined the ranks of individuals who can say that they gave life to a child.  You have joined a community of individuals who will experience the greatest highs and the lowest lows.  You now know what it's like to grow child in your heart, and luckily for you in your womb as well.  You should now understand that the little person you have given life to takes precedence over everyone and everything else.  I have to believe that that is why you and your husband acted the way that you did.

I hope.

I'm not sure you understand, though, what you did to other families- if the articles are accurate.  You see, Beyonce, having a child- or two or more- in the NICU is an experience that I do not wish on anyone.  My family and I, and a number of my friends' families, were quite lucky in that our NICU experiences have resulted in wonderfully healthy babies.  But there are families behind those walls that don't always leave with their babies and those moments in the NICU are all the time they have with them.  I'm not sure of the extent of conditions that kept Mr. Coulon's twins in the NICU but I can tell you that if they were in that specialized unit of the hospital, the conditions were at least somewhat serious.

Beyonce, when your child, or children, go to the NICU it is nothing like when they go to the regular nursery.  In the regular nursery you are able to take your child out of their bassinet and hold them, usually, without the confines of wires and tubes.  You are able, usually, to have your baby come back to your room with you and spend endless hours getting to know one another in the privacy of your own room, or a shared room behind a curtain.  In the regular nursery, it's rare that your baby is there for longer than the duration of your own stay.  In the NICU, Beyonce, everything changes.  And as a parent who has had two children in the NICU for an extended period of time, I can tell you that there is no way to accurately describe the events and emotions that surround one's stay in the NICU.

Beyonce, what you need to know is that motherhood is always full of uncertainties and with your celebrity I know that it brings even more uncertainty and fear.  Motherhood and fatherhood to preemies, to babies in the NICU, brings with it experiences that many new parents will never know.  And thank God for that.  Many parents will never know what it's like to walk into the nursery or NICU and see that your baby has taken huge steps backwards from their earlier progress and they are re-hooked to oxygen and feeding tubes and back in an incubator.  Many parents will never know what it's like to walk into the NICU and hear that their child has an infection that requires IV medication or greater medical intervention.  Many parents will never know the uncertainty that comes with the day to day moments in the NICU and how things can change in less than the blink of an eye. 

That being said, many parents won't know the joys of the NICU either.  They will not know the devoted, caring and skilled nurses and doctors who personally and individually care for babies day in and day out.  They will not know the camaraderie that is shared between parents of NICU babies.  They will not know unbelievable joy that comes with a tiny milestone such as an ounce of weight gain or a wet diaper.  And they may never know the way the words 'car seat challenge' can bring tears of joy and anticipation to the eyes of NICU parents.

Beyonce, I share all of this with you (virtually) because in your desire to protect your newborn baby you made it impossible for other parents to do exactly the same thing.  And while I appreciate your desire to be selfish in caring for your newborn and your family, I really wish you had risen above yourself and your money and recognized how your actions hurt and inhibited other families.  I had hoped you were better than that. 

Having a baby changes us in ways that we cannot even know until it actually happens.  And each baby or babies brings new emotions, choices, and reactions that we cannot anticipate or deal with until we are in it.  I only wish that you had, for one moment, realized that all of the men and women in the Maternity Ward at Lennox Hill Hospital were experiencing at least slightly similar emotions and reactions to your own and thought of that before you denied access and removed people from their families and their children.  I can't imagine that if the roles had been reversed and Mr. Coulon had tried to deny you or your family access to your newborn that you would have taken it lying down, so to speak.

So, Beyonce, congratulations on your new bundle of joy.  May she bring you and your family every ounce of happiness and unexpected joy that you could ever want.  And may she also bring you the understanding that while she is the center of your universe, you are not the center of the universe.




Kate said...

You're much more charitable than I'd be when discussing this. I wouldn't be able to avoid calling Beyonce the other kind of "B". BTW, can you send me the link to the article you read? TY!

Anonymous said...

KUDOS.....What a great letter, I could NOT have said it better !!

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