Perspective

I’ve been fortunate to spend my pregnancy in a community that’s very supportive of our decision to start a family. With the exception of a few irritated glances from people who may or may not have been victims of an accidental belly bump as I wrangled my six-month-stomach down the narrow aisle of a plane, I have not been subject to any discrimination, harassment, or abuse. No one has accused me of single-handedly over-populating the world. And though I’ve been overly sensitive to the “Wow-you-look-ready-to-pop!” comments, no one has actually made any untoward remarks about the physical changes I’ve experienced during the process.

Instead, I have been showered with encouragement, empathy, and gifts for the little one. My boss (who is a mother herself) has put absolutely no pressure on me to make a decision about returning to work next year. My friends have listened sympathetically to my litany of woes (the kicking! the swelling! the exhaustion!) and have managed to compliment my figure with a straight face. Or, you know, at least my hair cut. My parents have made plans to drive out here all the way from St. Louis, to take care of us and just be here to welcome the baby when he comes. Dad is even building a bassinet for him.

And my husband: where do I begin? He has endured over 15 hours of birthing classes where words like “perineum” and “amniotic fluid” are mentioned about 5 times a minute…and he’s taken notes! Just to make sure that he can be as supportive as possible during labor. Instead of making fun of me when I burst into irrational tears, he kisses me and offers to indulge my every craving or whim. He’s actually excited about trying the whole cloth diapers things. And, most importantly, he’s even more eager than I am for the baby to actually be here.

I remember how freaked out I was when I first looked at that pregnancy test…and by the time I took the test, I already pretty much knew (thanks, NFP). That confirmation, though, was terrifying: I didn’t feel ready at all. But, with time and prayer and the reassurance of mothers who have gone before, I’ve become accustomed to the idea of being a mother. And, of course, I’m terribly curious to meet the tiny creature who has been tucking his feet under my ribs for the past few months.

It’s hard to imagine what this year would have been like if no one else had been excited with me, if no one else thought that having a baby was a good idea. I’ve always been adamantly pro-life in principle, but I don’t think I realized how much support I would need to carry my own child.

I came across this article earlier today: Ask an Abortion Provider (warning: explicit language). It’s basically a young woman’s defense of her choice to abort her baby and her aspiration to become an abortion provider. Her tone attempts a weird form of jocularity, but ends up sounding, not surprisingly, defensive and militant. And the “warm fuzzy” moments she’s experienced during her training fall rather flat as she celebrates the success of the procedures she’s performed.

She sees herself as courageous for daring to enter a profession so fraught with danger (from pro-life activists) and so laden with stigmas (from pro-life culture). And that she has plenty of examples (death threats, verbal harassment, people egging the family planning building) to add some legitimacy to her self-victimization is definitely discouraging.

Frankly, the article is kind of obnoxious and I don’t recommend you spend time reading it (or getting involved in fights in the comment box, for that matter). I just bring it up here as a point of contrast: I wonder how differently this woman’s life would have turned out if her loved ones had been able to celebrate her pregnancy and her baby instead of celebrating her independence. Yes, she’s responsible for her own choices and yes, I think she’s making poor ones. But, ironically enough, after experiencing pregnancy, I’m no longer able to see her as an independent agent.

She is a victim, but not in the way she thinks. She’s the victim of a pro-choice culture that did not support her life-giving potential and denied her baby a loving, welcoming community.  Her failure is our own.

***

I’ve always loved this Lauryn Hill song, but I appreciate its simultaneous struggle and celebration even more now.

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3 Comments

Filed under Catholicism, Courage, Faith, Marriage, Mothering

3 responses to “Perspective

  1. I love that song :0) And I appreciate the perspective. I would add to your statement of “She’s the victim of a pro-choice culture that did not support her life-giving potential” that she is also a victim of a pro-life culture which uses hatred and terror to promote life. Which has always struck me as …. counter-productive, to put it lightly (or utterly destructive, to put it accurately). I would agree that in both cases, our modern culture (particularly evident where I live) doesn’t put nearly enough energy into creating a loving environment for new life (or for new mothers). Its fascinating to me, having lived in both the midwest and out here in California, how noticeable the difference is between the two cultures. For example, I don’t have any friends my age in California who have children or are pregnant, and very, very few who are married. Outside of Christian community, it is not really promoted as an intelligent or “productive” life choice to get married young. It’s all about your career. The fact that I don’t want children of my own makes me wonder how much of that is my own decision, and how much is dictated by the culture I’ve embraced the past 10 years.

    I am so glad for you, that you have a loving husband, and family, and community, to support you in caring for your little one :0)

    (As s side note, I can NOT believe it’s been almost ten years since I moved to California.)

    Apologies for the long note.
    -lizard

  2. D.C. is a less-than-supportive area to have a child, especially for very young but not ghetto parents like us.

    I think culture is worse than merely “against children,” as in, most people don’t see a baby and think, “Terrible child, cutting off that mother’s choices.” But most people do think of marriage and childbearing as an obnoxious burden or hindrance to “the other things we want to do”–it’s one of the things that is “ok for other people but not for me.” Parenting is a hard sell to a frivolous people.

  3. I too love that song, and six years into motherhood, I still tear up whenever I hear it (or think about it, as I’m doing now 🙂

    To add to Liza’s statement about California and cultural differences, when I was pregnant with Vierra during my fourth year at UCSD, I can bet you, I was the only one teetering with a round belly on a 20,000 student campus.

    There is a line in a song that often haunts me: I would rather have love than freedom…(or something to that extent). It takes a certain level of wisdom and maturity to say that, to believe it. In our modern culture, we’ve forsake love and made independence our idol. To be free, to be free….this is what the world is telling us is the most important thing. But free from what? And at what cost….

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