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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So, Are You Gonna Find Out?

          It seems that when one is expecting, especially with a first, one inevitable question is going to be "Are you going to find out what you're having?"  A reasonable question, in this day and age I suppose.  I personally have gone from "No" to "I wouldn't be opposed to knowing" to "I absolutely think it is a good idea to know." 
          Growing up, Mum always said that babies only come in two kinds, and don't you want to be surprised when the baby finally arrives?  Of course, there was always the "What if they are wrong?" factor that she also brought up, which made a really good argument for not having a baby shower until after the baby is born - much less likely to have a bunch of girl clothes for your little boy to wear.  And yes, they can be wrong.  A couple of years ago (or maybe a few more) a cousin of mine was informed they were having a girl, and when the day came, weren't they surprised to find a little boy instead!  Anyway, the basic gist is that my initial thoughts (when I thought about it, which was rare) were that I wouldn't really want to find out, but that if it happened (sometimes an ultrasound can be quite obvious) I wouldn't be all upset about it either.  
          Then I got to thinking more in depth about it, especially since I have been married (and it is now quite a real reality) and started volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy Center here in town.  I want to find out, so I can stop referring to the baby as "it".  I usually end up using the plural "they/them" because it adds a bit of humanity to the situation.  My child is not an "it".  I also tire of saying baby, and would much rather use a name and the proper corresponding pronoun:  Joseph/he; Mary/she.  Finding out also means better praying for the baby:  invoking the specific saint or loved one the baby is named after.  Though I'm usually pretty good at generalizations, sometime it is nice to have specifics, and to be able to dedicate that child to the protection of a particular saint as soon as possible seems like a really good idea.  For a less lofty reason, it would be nice to know so our mothers - now grandmothers - can go shopping for baby clothes.  Yes, kind of a materialistic and utilitarian reason, but both of them are so excited about their first grandchild, and looking at baby clothes is so much fun, it would be nice if they had a specific gender to shop for.  Especially since they are 6 and 10 hours away and a little bit left out of the baby preparation process as a result.  
          I've also been wondering what, if any, impact such a thing could have in regards to how society views the unborn.  For the most part, I think people have moved beyond the "just a clump of cells/tissue" argument, and are more focused on the "right of the woman to choose".  This I find to be a good thing, because it seems to grant that the thing to be sucked out of the uterus is more than a clump of cells, that it is a baby.  By focusing on "choice" there is an implicit acknowledgement that there is another living being involved, but out of fear of what explicit acknowledgement might mean the argument is refocused elsewhere.  Basically, I think most people will agree that there is another human being, a baby, involved; yet the idea of person is still too abstract, too vague, to impersonal.  It is easier for a soldier to kill the enemy, but not so easy to kill one's brother, even if he is on the enemy side; it is easy enough to slaughter a pig or a chicken, but much more difficult to kill Wilbur or Miss Biddy.  The unborn need more than person-hood -- they need identity.  The more pro-lifers refer to the unborn as individuals and by name, I think the harder it will be for pro-choicers to deny it.  The more we expectant mothers and fathers refer to our unborn children in a similar way to how we refer to those who are born, perhaps the world will come to see how there really isn't so much of a difference after all.  I am a mother, my parents are grandparents, and have been since my child was first conceived.  The only "will be" involved was before - there is no "will be" now, now it just is. 
          After Saturday, we will know our baby's identity, we will know who we will be welcoming into our arms and home in October.  I will finally be able to refer to my child with the dignity and respect that is due them.  I will be able to call them by name, to pray for them by name, to love them by name.  And I simply cannot wait.  

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