I was hoping to avoid this story because it’s horrible and I didn’t want to deal with it. But it’s all over the news now and so we have to talk about it.
A lawyer, Cynthia Wachenheim, on leave from the Manhattan Supreme Court, jumped to her death from a Harlem apartment with her 10-month-old son strapped to her body in an Ergo baby carrier. The baby survived.
I know that society requires and expects me to use restraint or even show sympathy for suicide “victims.” But I just can’t muster the will to conform to social conventions in this case. This woman left behind a 13-page suicide note (of course a lawyer leaves a 13-page suicide note) explaining that she thought her baby had cerebral palsy based on internet research (doctors found nothing wrong with the child). When nobody believed her crazy rantings, her solution was to try to kill her own child — as if even an actual diagnosis of CP was worse than death.
Screw this woman….
Having just been through the process of having a newborn, I’m acutely aware of all the time hospitals, pediatricians, and psychiatrists put in telling new parents how to handle the feelings of anxiety and sometimes depression that affect new parents. According to the reports filtering in about Wachenheim’s suicide note, it seems like she refused to listen to anybody else or seek out readily available help for her mental health issues. From the New York Times:
According to a law enforcement official who has seen the note, she wrote that her infant son, Keston Bacharach, had previously taken a few tumbles, including “two shameful incidents,” a fall from a Gymini play set onto the wood floor when she walked out of the room for five minutes, and off a bed. She blamed herself, and was convinced that those falls had led to a series of concussions and seizures that aggravated or contributed to maladies that would harm him for the rest of his life.
Her friends, family members and pediatrician did not believe her, she wrote. But she noticed changes in the baby — changes that only a mother who spends all day with her child would notice. For instance, she wrote, her son had grown sleepier and cried more frequently.
She wrote that she could not bear the thought that he might suffer because she had failed to protect him. She wrote that what she was about to do was “evil.”
Damn straight she was “evil.” Look at how her concerns are all about her: she felt shame, she noticed changes, she couldn’t bear the thought. What a selfish, awful woman.
She said that she would give her life to bring his health back and that she hated herself for the first time in her life.
She’d give her life to make him healthy, but apparently couldn’t commit to nursing him through the fake diseases she made up for him in her mind.
The Times reports that Wachenheim was a Columbia Law grad who was on leave from a “$122,800-a-year job as an associate court attorney in the Manhattan State Supreme Court system.” We’re not talking about a person who couldn’t afford a shrink or medication or whatever the hell else she needed to convince her to NOT selfishly try to take the life of her own child.
I don’t know, Casey Anthony (allegedly) kills her child, and she’s a monster. This woman most certainly tries to do the same thing, but she’s a “victim” because she tried to kill herself at the same time?
Don’t let the fancy law degree and respectable job fool you; she’s a monster.
UPDATE (5:45 PM): For a different perspective, see this commentary from a friend of Cindy Wachenheim. According to Professor Elizabeth Nowicki, who grew up with Cindy Wachenheim, Cindy wasn’t evil or selfish; she was just very, very sick.