Monday, November 22, 2010
Excerpt from: I WILL KEEP MY BABY
What would you do if you were told the baby you were carrying could not be brought to full term because your boss had not given you permission to have a child? In China, there is compulsive birth control laws that are arbritrary and often unfair.
I WILL KEEP MY BABY
Published by Lady Leo Publishing
“It is foolish,” Mother Chen, my mother-in-law, admonished as she sifted through the latest pile of bills.
“So foolish,” she repeated for emphasis, fanning the air with a bill. “You cannot afford to pay a single one.”
“No, Respected Mother, it is not foolish. It is principle now.”
“Principle, heh? Stupid girl try to buck system. Hotel too big to fight. Will swallow you whole like shark. Impossible to win. Accept court ruling.”
“Never! I believe in my heart that the court ruling is wrong and unjust. I will keep going until I have nowhere to go.”
My mother-in-law merely shook her head and disappeared behind the curtain that separated her room from the one my husband, Zhang Chen, and I slept in. I was left alone with my thoughts and a huge pile of unpaid bills. Mother-in-law Chen was right about one thing: There were way too many bills for my husband and me to pay, with my poor husband’s meager salary. Sifting through the unwieldy pile, I felt my resolution begin to crumble. Perhaps I was taking on too much, and I could never win. If so, it would be prudent to give up, as my mother-in-law had advised, before things worsened. But then I look at my beautiful sleeping daughter, Han, and I know that what I am doing is the right thing. Had the choice been up to my former
employer, Han would not be here today.
Burdened throughout history by overpopulation, our great nation of China has taken major strides in the attempt to curb its population growth by passing several birth control laws. One of which empowers employers with the authority to decide when their employees can have their children. It meant that as a worker, before becoming pregnant, I’d have to ask permission first. If my employer did not think it a good time for the company, I would be denied permission.
The problem with my job position as hotel clerk was quite obvious. We were always busy, and there was never a good time for me to become pregnant. If I waited for permission, I’d never get it. My biological clock would expire long before the hotel supervisor saw fit to grantme maternity leave.
The government also empowered the employers to force their employees to submit to abortions if they became pregnant without prior approval. Because of that law, I had already gone through two abortions—neither of which I had truly desired.
Thinking back, I will always remember that most fateful day when I discovered I was pregnant again. It was a cold, rainy one that matched my most foul disposition. I would not be able to tell Zhang of my plight until he returned home from work that evening. He could not receive personal phone calls at his place of work and hardly ever called home on his half-hour lunch break. I feared telling my mother-in-law. She had so little respect for me as it was. Besides, she was such a snoop she would find out soon enough, anyway. Nothing ever seemed to pass by the old woman’s ears. I’ve often suspected her of standing awake at night with her ear pressed to the curtain separating our bedrooms.
At first, I was not at all sure what to do. It would have been so easy just to have another abortion. But I remembered the serious words of my doctor the last time I had aborted my child. He told me in no uncertain terms that if I had another, I would most likely never be able to bear more children. And more than anything else, I wanted to have a child. The thought of having a child was so desirable that I wept with joy and yet I knew, without permission from my employer
to have my baby, that joy would be short lived.
But what would my loving husband say? Would he be angry with me for putting him in such a bad light? I wanted to run away into the hills and hide, but I realized that would solve nothing. It was indeed most childish of me to think in such a foolish manner. I had to stay and face Zhang. I wanted to be joyous and glad that we had been given this chance to be part of the miracle of life. However, to do so would go against the laws of our country. What shame that my country had taken away the joy and freedom of having children.