I was asked a question this afternoon. Someone just figured out that we are expecting another child. While I was surprised that she hadn't known already, I was even more stunned at the way the conversation unfolded. She asked if it was a boy (it is), and looked sympathetic (a response that irritates me, but I'm getting used to). Then came the kicker: "So you are going to keep it?" She looked genuinely concerned for me. Worried, even. It seemed that she wanted me to say "no" so she could be relieved and tell me that she understood, and that 5 boys was certainly enough. I didn't know where to begin. I've heard a lot of ridiculous responses to my pregnancies over the last 12 years, but this one was a first. The fact that anyone would look at me and think that I could terminate a pregnancy at all, especially on the grounds of the baby's gender, is unfathomable. The fact that this little one is less than two weeks from clinical viability only makes the question that much more shocking.
Trying to clear my head and gather a response that didn't include asking if she might be out of her mind, I said "what else would I do? It's a boy! I can't change it now!" She sighed, looking resigned and so sympathetic for my plight (!??!), and repeated "you will keep it." To be fair, there is a significant language barrier in this relationship, and a cultural one, and to a lesser extent, a religious one. But I couldn't help but search my mind and my heart after she had gone, seeking to articulate what began as stunned silence and a whirlwind of thoughts too numerous and rapid to pin down.
What does this child mean? There are some answers that apply to every life begun, and some that only touch the intimate center of our lives as man and wife, and our family as a whole. In every life begun, there is hope. There is possibility. There is purpose. No matter the circumstances of any given conception, life is never an accident. It is always ordained, set forth in the image of God, unique and perfect. Even if we pervert the climate in which that life begins with impropriety, impurity, or violence, it does not pervert the miraculous integrity or worth that is God's fingerprint on humanity. We all come to exist out of nothing because the heart of our Heavenly Father desires us to be. How can we imagine that is it our right, even when it is in our power, to interfere?
What does this child mean to us? My husband and I took sacred vows 13 years ago. We entered into a covenant with one another and with God. In coming together, we pledged ourselves fully to one other and vowed to be open to the natural outcome of celebrating and renewing that covenant. This child, like his five older brothers, comes from our love. He is a precious gift. He is my husband, he is me, and he is uniquely and perfectly himself. It is a miracle and a mystery, and an unspeakable privilege to carry and nurture this life! For my other children as well, this child is a gift. They already love him. They talk to him, reach out to feel his movement, kiss my tummy good-night, and talk about what they will do when he comes. They are eager to see him, to hold him, and to play with him. He is, in their minds, already a part of their family.
Perhaps there is a blessing in the suggestion that I could end the life of the little one who is, as I type this, practicing his dance moves on my ribs. I've stopped and thought about what a blessing it is to be his mother. The woman who posed the question meant no offense, I'm sure. I don't think it occurred to her at all that offense could be taken; it was simply a practical consideration for a family that already has five children, all of them boys. If ever the opportunity presents itself, I will certainly give an answer for the hope that is within me. I will, I pray, be the one with the breathtaking and audacious question. Until that time, I will simply be grateful, anxiously awaiting the day when I will see my little son, cradle him in my arms, present him to his father and his brothers, and kiss his sweet forehead. Because I am his mother.