Saturday, December 11, 2010

Being Pregnant

I was just thinking about how even the most pro-life among us (are there degrees of being pro-life? – seems absurd to say) consider being pregnant a deviation from the norm. Why that is seems rather obvious, but theologically speaking, we oughtn’t so to think. Ideas have consequences. And if we think that being pregnant is a deviation from the norm, we will act as if it is. I am not suggesting, of course, that it is unimportant – I am not suggesting that not being pregnant is unimportant. What I am suggesting, however, is that we should think of being pregnant as that other normal state of womanhood, and a normal part of family life. It is a fact that, even the ‘most pro-life’ among us, have family and friends to whom we feel we must justify our fertility. What a horrible additional cross to bear for a woman who is already in a taxing position! As ‘with-child’ she is just as God intends her to be at that exact moment. What would help would be for the couple to begin to think of their own pregnant state as just another part of life, the way they think of menstruation, of fertility, of all of their other children’s stages, of spring, of winter, etc. But we compartmentalize pregnancy. We treat it as something with a beginning and end. We should think of pregnancy as just another element of family life. Where’d the crib go? Whether we answer we put it in the basement or gave it away / sold it seems like a harmless distinction, but it isn’t. It might constitute a profound statement on family life.

Sorry, no pictures of Anne-Marie pregnant handy
 - not that she'd let me put them on here anyway!

I am not saying that a woman should always be pregnant – that might be very unhealthy, just like always jogging might be, in fact, very unhealthy. I am saying that we should not think of pregnancy as so special as to be unusual. It is so special because everything about family life is special: in its greatest normalcy do we see family life at its greatest. I think that if we begin to think in this way it will make pregnancy easier for the woman and for her family to bear. It is difficult, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t normal. Raising children for the remainder of those 18 years to adulthood is also difficult – that doesn’t mean that we should think of any of it as unusual.

For this we have our Patriarchs for guides. Is not the most remarkable him to fecundity the Nunc Dimittis? In ushering the salvation of the world through the birth of every new life, the Father of Life presents in this ultimate gift that is new life the promise wrought through His own begetting in Mary. In a way, then, every child brought into being is a sign and even an event of salvation. Thus, with each child can we say,

Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
We rejoice at each Easter, not because this is the Paschal Mystery finally come, but because each day effects the salvation of Christ; so too ought we to rejoice with each new life brought into the world, and also with each continuing life, since they too fulfill “that which is lacking in Christ.” Life is the salvation wrought by Christ. Family life is its continuity; pregnancy is its newness upon us.


  1. This is delightful, and very thought-provoking. I think 'compartmentalizing' pregnancy is what makes people so hung up on NFP or not. You know, either they think being pregnant and having a new baby is such a chore (which granted, it is very hard work) without seeing things more broadly -- that that child will eventually grow up and even, hopefully, be a service to his parents! -- or that pregnancy is SO VERY holy that a woman should either BE pregnant or being trying perpetually until menopause. Both are distorted views. I never would have articulated it like this, but you helped me snap things into focus, that we need to treat the whole continuum of family life with respect for its beauty and humbleness, and pregnancy is nothing different.

    That all being said, I am going to go eat popcorn now and relax because I am pregnant and feeling a little tired :)

  2. This post makes me wonder. Dave said it was just a normal Colin post but I thought it sounded more like an announcement.

  3. Nevertheless, I echo Jenna's comments. It is a beautiful and thoughtful post and I especially love the last line.

  4. Thanks, ladies. It was the "additional person" in the photo of you guys in Halifax that got me to thinking on all of this. AM thought you might construe it that way, though!