Last year's Mar.ch of Dim.es walk came and went while I was still in an incomprehensible fog. I wanted to do something, but this was too much for just a few brief weeks after the death of my daughter. I went to the website frequently searching for, well, anything. They seemed like a great cause to get behind: We're against babies having health problems and dying. Who can't get behind that? There were helpful links on genetic problems, if you had no idea what a genetic problem was. It was easy on the sidebar on the front page to navigate your way through to explaining problems, specifics on genetics and even grief. I had told Mr. ABF that I wanted to walk this year, for Maddy. Maybe get brave and make shirts. I wanted Bella to see what it was like to be among people who had survived loss, survived perfectly, and survived with problems. I feel we now straddle all of these categories, and I want her and us to embrace the beauty of it all. I wanted my money to go toward research in prenatal testing so maybe someday people like us could know that their babies wouldn't live on the outside. Maybe someday, when we eat through tubes and fly around in our space cruisers, they could fix these issues on the inside. Or before you even got started.
I knew then that their focus was premature birth and complications. Believe me, walking around a NICU for a week, that's pretty much all you see -- very tiny babies struggling for life, trying to breathe, trying to gain weight. Maddy was the giant in the room, ironically worse off than the baby measured in ounces who shared her space. And I have no problem marching for this either. Especially now, having met so many of you who have lost babies born too early, apparently for no reason. I want to do anything I can to stop this. Too many deadbabies? Bad. Please take my money while I lace up my shoes.
So I clicked over to the MoD site to get the dates and figure out what I needed to do, and lo, they've revamped everything. (I know my memory is shit, but for some reason I don't remember the site being quite so, um, annoying? I do not remember "Birth Defects and Genetics" falling under the "Pregnancy and Newborn" category, replete with a smiling family of three splashed across the top of the page, for example.) The marketing geniuses ran a study and determined that not enough people knew what the MoD was or did. They realized that people were donating and (get this) even marching with office mates and family while completely clueless as to why they they were throwing out money and wasting a Saturday morning walking around downtown. The stats were nuts -- 85% of people surveyed had a positive view of MoD, while only 45% had a modicum of a clue as to what MoD did.
And so they changed things. When I thought about MoD I guess I always thought "birth defects," and I guess if you pressed me ever so gently, I'd concur that being born at 26 weeks for no reason at all leaves one with some fairly serious defects. But I felt, with my full-term baby and sloppy genetics, included in this banner and I guess I felt they cared about people like me too. The march is now called "The Mar.ch for Babi.es." Which, I must say, hits me hard. I'm marching for a DEAD BABY. I'm marching for NO MORE DEAD BABIES. And I suppose you're waving at me frantically, but tash, you're marching for a double negative! When you scratch that all out, aren't you really FOR BABIES? Ah, but I can see the chipper signs with the healthy cherubs now (well, in fact, they're all over the website for the walk) -- THIS is why we're marching people, so you can have one of THESE.
I can't have one of those.
At least, not for the reasons you're now espousing in earnest on your website and in your marketing materials. The widgets they've created for you to put up on your blog, in the event you want to, oh, raise money for this organization by announcing that you're walking, say "Tips for Pregnancy." (Is it that tough to make an "in memory" sort of widget? Maybe with some tips on grief? I have a few family members who might find that sort of thing useful.) People at MoD, I'm here to tell you that in the circles I run among, no amount of water drinking, exercise, sleep, and abstention from booze, tobacco, lemon stilton, mercury/PCB laden-fish, and cleaning the cat box is going to help carry a healthy pregnancy to term. (Today's "Tip of Day" directs you to a picture of (vomit rising underneath my psychotic laughter) a pregnant belly with a bow around it and the advice that you should look into the effects of drug and drug-free labor. I'll get right on that. Right after I, um, get pregnant again (relapse of psychotic laughter) and am guaranteed a LIVE BABY at the end of labor. The downsides of epidurals are the least of my problems, to put it mildly.) Unless your "tips" include "Use your Ouija board to determine whether your genes will align correctly this month" or "read up on how many complications there are for which we have no testing to determine -- go ahead, scare the crap outta yourself," I'm not horribly interested.
The one marketing video I clicked on involved some celebrity I had no knowledge of, poking away tears with her manicured nails while relating the story of her son's premature birth, followed by hazy happy video of said son, all smiley and ALIVE. And them marching. Because we're for babies, people. How can you not be for babies?
I feel, probably wrongly in my current state, that they've cut me out. That instead of marching for a child who died due to a genetic problem for which there is not only no cure but no means of detection prior to birth, I'm marching for people who live under rocks and don't know that smoking is bad for you while pregnant. Believe me, I'm all for public service (Don't drink and drive! Only you can prevent forest fires!), but this is one area where it's probably best not to inject my cynicism and snark. I know a good number of you out there find this a very appropriate and sympathetic charity, and I'm not judging you here. I'm probably just flailing about, trying to find something to piss me off. I'm fairly confident not too many other people feel the way I do, and will still march and raise money this year, like they have in the past, and that it will all be good, regardless. I am, I admit, the double-entendre bitch. I'm not sure whether to collect my thoughts and write someone in the marketing department, or say something on their new blog (I'll be sure to notify you so can pop over and bring marshmallows for the flamage that will undoubtedly ensue). (Perhaps you should go find your bag right now, because it may be taking place while you type, right here.) Or to suck it up and march for my dead kid anyway. Or to find another charity, who makes less of the lovely live baby sucking his toes at the top of the page and realizes that we still have a ways to go if we're really really really going to stem the tide of grief-stricken parents. Miles beyond "eat vegetables, set down that Chardonnay, and use a seatbelt!"