Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giving Birth and Giving Life

This week we welcomed Eva Caroline Scott into the world. I love my daughter. I'll say this at the beginning and again at the end so you understand that these feelings are disconnected from the thoughts below. I love my daughter. I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. I'm glad she's here and I can't wait to see all the amazing things we'll learn about the world together.

That being said, I was never really sold on having kids of my own. I want to love and take care of kids, but I never felt any real desire to make any of my own. It just seems like there's plenty of kids out there without parents that my own were sort of superfluous.

Over time, I came to see the evolutionary draw my wife had to children - at least a child. So we agreed that we'd have one and then look for other, non-traditional way to add more later. Still, I told her, I was doing this for her and I didn't necessarily think the pain and ordeal of pregnancy and birth were all that necessary to a full life.

It got me thinking a little bit about the difference between giving birth and giving life. Obviously anyone with the physical ability to reproduce can participate in giving birth. So may parents never experience what it means to give life. Some of the most impoverished and unprepared parents succeed at giving life; some of the most resourced and capable parents never do. It's a mixed bag - but I was more focused on giving life to kids in need, whether or not we gave birth to them.

So now we have a daughter. We've been through almost ten months of pregnancy, a few hours of labor and a lot of really terrible, painful pushing. It wasn't the best experience. Obviously there's discomfort with pregnancy, but for the most part, Katelynn did very well. She was rarely sick and kept working right up until the baby came. It was inconvenient, but not bad.

The labor was interesting. Before the epidural went into effect, the pain was awful and some of my worst fears were realized. My biggest objection to having a child was having to watch helplessly while my wife suffered. It was about as bad as I expected, although Katelynn's tendency to grunt rather than scream was quite helpful.

When it finally came time to get the baby out, well, we got ourselves into a scary situation. The baby was really too big for her to birth naturally, but we didn't figure that out until it was too late. We all popped into adrenaline mode and got it done. She was amazing and I have never been prouder of my wife.

It was a scary hour or so after the birth while they were fixing her back up and getting her blood pressure and body back to normal. I had faith in the doctors and no one seemed to be panicking too much. Still, it was unpleasant to be so helpless.

I told her that this is the ultimate, "I told you so" experience. I said pregnancy and childbirth weren't really worth the effort, especially with so many kids in need in this world. My mind hasn't changed. I'm not sure if she'd admit it, but I think Katelynn might even agree with me.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. I love my daughter. She's wonderful. I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. Of course, now that we have her, it seems difficult to think of life without her. Still, I'm not sure out life would be less full or less complete if she'd never existed.

For all of those people who said, "you thoughts will change when you have a baby in your arms," I just have to say it's not true. I still feel the same way. It's not as though having a child was a bad choice - it's pretty wonderful, but I'm still not sure it was the best choice.

I won't dwell too much on the questions since it's extremely moot at the moment, but I do still think it's a worthwhile conversation to have. There are people who choose not to have kids, just as there are people who choose to be celibate. They choose to give up something good for the chance at something better - a sacrifice.

That does seem to be what giving life is all about - that we sacrifice of ourselves to show the inherent value in another. In a world where so many parents treat their children like accessories, perhaps we need to shift the paradigm from simply giving birth, to giving life. It would certainly expand our definition of family.

In conclusion, I love my daughter. I think she's amazing and wonderful. Now that she's here, I would definitely sacrifice whatever it takes. At the same time, I hope, I would have the same kind of love for anyone so endowed with the image of God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm glad to hear things are going well for you and your family. I tremendously respect your courage in posting the above thoughts. As a married man that doesn't have kids of my own, I often ponder such things. Thank you for eloquently putting into words your thoughts and feelings from such a momentous event in life and not just in birth.

- I don't have a google id so I'll sign off here- Matt Lowe