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John Edwards' Mistress's Gutsy Choice

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John Edwards' former mistress could have done worse.

Elizabeth Edwards John Edwards Rielle Hunte

Woman on the Verge of Having Kids: First, let me make clear that I am not celebrating extramarital affairs. And I do feel empathy for Elizabeth Edwards, former senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards' betrayed wife, who has been diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer.

But I confess to having an offbeat reaction to the ongoing story of John Edwards and his former mistress, Rielle Hunter: I am happy for Rielle that, as a single woman, she now has a beautiful baby, on her own terms.

Life is complicated. People fall in and out of love, "arrive" in their careers and personal lives at different times. But time and the tides wait for no man, and the biological clock waits for no woman.

Women have more choices than ever, including the choice to have a surrogate's eggs implanted if they want the experience of giving birth. But -- despite fantastical stories about movie stars giving birth in their late 40s and beyond -- the truth is that, if a woman wants her own biological child, the early 40s is pretty much do-or-die time.

Enter Rielle Hunter. Whatever one's views about the morality of her affair with Edwards, she found herself pregnant at age 43. She wanted a baby. And she went ahead and had Frances, her baby girl. Can anyone look at this beautiful child and call her a mistake? Or blame Rielle for wanting a baby whose father, whatever his imperfections, is smart, good-looking, and cares enough to try to provide for the child?

After all, compared to some of the chivalry-less, narcissistic, metrosexual men roaming the streets of major metropolitan areas these days, John Edwards doesn't even seem that bad!

People find themselves in all kinds of circumstances, and maybe what matters most is not whether the family structure is conventional, but whether one has the means -- financial and emotional -- to raise a healthy, wanted child.

Whatever Rielle's mistakes may have been, is it possible having Frances was her best decision?

next: I Hate It When I'm Right
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 24, 2009, 8:42 AM

While I certainly do not condone affairs, the point here is about the CHOICE of a MOTHER, and that at an age when she likely believed that she couldn’t have a child, she was given a chance to do so. As a mid 30’s single woman I can relate to this, and think its fabulous that she was given this chance and took it!

To be honest, when the affair came out I never thought about it from this point of view… But now I see a side of the story that isn’t about who slept with who (albeit not what I would do). But about the fact that against all odds (biologically speaking), a child was conceived, wanted and brought into this world. And as I wrestle with my options as a single woman who wants to be a mother some day (and who is running out of years for that to be possible), I hope to have support for the choices I ultimately make—regardless of how conventional they may or may not be.

Will I have an affair? No. Will I try to become pregnant without having planned to do so with a partner? No. But should I find myself in circumstances that were not planned or premeditated yet yielded an end result about which I dream, I too would have that child. And I would be thrilled to give her or him all of the love in the world, and would hope to have the love and support of my friends, family and community. Without judgement.

Vickie September 24, 2009, 1:58 PM

Destroying another women’s family so you can have a child as a single woman isn’t an option. Go to a sperm bank. Don’t destroy a woman’s world who needs her family so desperately when she is ill or otherwise. This is crazy. The idea you can conceive a child with a married man because of your biological clock is totaly amoral and damaging to women as a whole. Women who would do this don’t need to be mothers. They are too selfish. Go to a sperm bank.

You would be thrilled to bring a child into the world who is seen by another woman and her children as a betrayal? Woman do have the right to make choices, but this is a bad, amoral choice.

kate September 24, 2009, 5:23 PM

Women have to stick together. Ms. Hunter made horrible choices here with no consideration for anyone else. This article reeks of the very thing that we women should be avoiding. We need to be better than this!

kiwi26 September 24, 2009, 7:36 PM

If a woman wanted to have a child, and without a relationship, being the single parent, she has the option to adopt. There are many children who would love to be have a loving mom. There is nothing wrong thing adopting; but there is when a woman wants to have a baby from a married man; shame on woman and most of all, on the man.

Some people these days are losing their sanity :(

Vickie September 25, 2009, 4:49 AM

Amoral people don’t have any shame and raise amoral kids.

Almost totally done with Momlogic  September 25, 2009, 10:23 AM

Dear friend of the author, oops I mean Dee:
I never implied in any way that this author doesn’t have a right to her (ridiculous) opinion or that single women shouldn’t have kids. YOUR comment touts a stereotype of women, not mine (Narrow minded. Suburban house with picket fence).
My point is I’m sick to death of mom sites I used to love and champion becoming empty and tabloid-ish. I feel manipulated by this kind of post because it was obviously chosen to stir us up and “get us talking.”
I came back to see if any other moms/readers felt the same way and it seems like there are a few. I’ve taken MomLogic off my reader where it has had a loyal home for a long time. It’s not just this post, it’s the trend. Like I said, I think we are smarter than MomLogic gives us credit for.

Feraday McCall September 25, 2009, 3:37 PM

I am amazed at the women who have read this article and don’t “get it.” Clearly, JE’s family did not implode, his sick wife is hanging in , thank the Lord, and the author offered no sympathy about the couple’s liason. This piece makes the case for Reille’s decision, on becoming pregnant, to proceed, become a mother and give her baby having a chance to live. That, ladies, is the point. F. Mc.

jude September 26, 2009, 5:51 AM

Who believes for a second this skank really wanted a child? What she wanted was a meal ticket and the child was her vehicle. Poor baby. A woman at age 43 has a less than 10% chance of getting pregnant. I have always believed she set out to do this, even took fertility treatments to increase her chances. There is a special place in hell for her. I pray for this child, and Elizabeth.

Anonymous September 26, 2009, 12:52 PM

“Jude” points out a fact then ignores it’s obvious implications: a woman of 43’s chances of pregnancy are so very slim—- clearly Ms. Hunter seized her one and only, last moment to have a child. The choice was one I would have made, although I, like the author, do not condone the affair.

Julia September 27, 2009, 3:10 PM

I agree with the points that this writer’s detractors are making. However, at the same time I found myself taken with this very singular, almost unfindable, silver-lining take on the situation. And perhaps that’s what the writer was going for.

I think the point is that out of all the wrong that was done here, an opportunity to do something right resulted. And that was keeping the baby. Granted, to focus on the silver lining means setting aside a whole lot of moral questions, but no doubt the writer’s perceptions are very much informed by her personal situation: staring at the big 4-0 ahead and wanting a child but not having any desirable, conventional prospects for getting one.

So this was what stood out to her in an otherwise reprehensible situation: a 43-year-old woman for whom it wasn’t too late and who was granted a spontaneous pregnancy rather than a tortuous and no-guarantees fertility treatment process.

Naturally, us girls with husbands and children aren’t going to abide such a tunnel-visioned take on the irredeemable situation that led to the child. But given that preganancies are our connection to the spirit world, it appears that the baby was the point all along. I just wouldn’t give the mistress kudos for anything—but can see where inspiration could be drawn out of this by a Woman on the Verge.

JS October 2, 2009, 8:25 AM

Correction, she had a girl. Sorry bout that. As for them being two consenting adults, I have to take issue with that. John Edwards had no RIGHT to be a consenting adult. He had a legal contract with Elizabeth Edwards. He committed Criminal Conversation with R Hunter, and there is also grounds for Alienation of Affection. If Elizabeth Edwards were so inclined, she could take legal action, so no, this is not about two “consenting adults”. That term implies that it is ok. It was NOT ok. It was illegal.

jennE4 October 9, 2009, 7:40 AM

I believe that there are a lot of different styles of families out there and you should be able to have a baby whether you are married, single, adopt,donor eggs…but I do not believe in extramarital affairs.

Black Iris October 21, 2009, 6:25 PM

I think Rielle had the baby because she wanted to create a tie to John Edwards. I think she is a vile somewhat unbalanced woman who made wedding plans for when Elizabeth is dead. I don’t think any of the things she is doing now are for the best interests of the child, I think they are efforts to tangle herself up in John’s life.

In terms of what’s good for the baby, I think the author’s baby lust is blinding her, or perhaps she just doesn’t know what it’s like to be married. The child is not wanted. I am quite sure John Edwards did not want to end up with an illegitimate child to prove to his wife and the world that he lied about when he had the affair. Any relationship he has with the baby is going to be strained. He has children and a dying wife to consider and is unlikely to feel a tie to this baby based only on genetics. So this kid is going to really, really know that she was unplanned and undesired and strongly resented by some people. That’s not a good start to your life.

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