March 11, 2016
I saw something today that was difficult to comprehend. Though it was something very common in our day and age, something I have heard about as far back as I can remember, it was hard to believe. I saw on a TV monitor, grey, white and black splotches that etched out the shape of a complicated little object. I am told this a computer image of what is inside my wife’s uterus but I cannot seem to make this connect to the same reality of my wife’s tangible fingers interlaced in mine and the technician at the computer across from us.
Finally I’m able to move passed the feeling that this is just the same ultrasound picture that I’ve seen in movies and TV shows and realize this is not a stock photo or a YouTube clip; this is a real-time image. Those grey and white blobs define the unmistakable arch of a skull complete with teeth, the dashed line of a spine, the pulsating spaces of a heart, the stripes of ribs and various white sticks that are arm and leg bones. What I’m watching is the actual movements of a tiny human baby and not just any of the millions around the world this same day, but this one….this one is my son.
If I recall correctly, it was about 2002 and I was 23 the first time I felt like I was really ready to be a father. I didn’t even have a girlfriend at the time, but a friend had just given birth to her baby boy and was bringing him around the house I lived in at the time. I’ll never understand God’s timing, but here it is nearly 13 years later and finally it’s really my turn to be a father. I feel like every year gone by has made this a little harder to believe, but it doesn’t dull the enormity of it all.
The usual thoughts of expectant parents start pouring in like: Will he have my nose? Does he have Shelly’s lips? Is he going to have those big blue eyes like his mother? Is he going to have a great sense of humor? What kind of man will he grow up to be? Like all parents I hope he’ll grow up to be great, to be honorable and wise. I think about all of these traits and where they’re coming from. I look at the perfect curvature of his little scull. How is he so perfectly human? Shelly and I only “knew each other” to put it in Biblical terms, but other than that, what did we do? Nothing. We didn’t have to concentrate really hard. We didn’t have to carefully sculpt him with our hands. We didn’t have to be careful to remember what all goes into a human to make sure he is being built right. So where did this new little person come from? If not our hands, whose are guiding his shapes and numbering his ribs and vertebrae? So much of who and what we are is laid out like a computer program in our DNA. So this organic code is driving the formation of our boy, but now more than ever I am hung up on where on earth did this blue print come from? It passed from Shelly and I, and ours came from our parents which got theirs from our grandparents and so on. But how long does that go back? How long has the code been building humans as we know them?
I watch that screen in perpetual amazement; I really think I could sit there all day watching. What is most fascinating is when he decides to move. This creature inside of my wife is making an autonomous movement and it just hits me that he is a complete entity of his own. Yes he is tied to his mother by an umbilical cord and at this point could not survive outside the womb, but that does nothing to mute the loud averment of this distinctly human gestalt displayed before us.
Later that same day I am scrolling through Facebook posts and I come across a post that would normally get my hackles up, but today it hits me more somber. Its a liberal friend’s post about how evangelicals are fickle because they have only defined life at conception since sometime in the 70’s. I’ve read many posts like it and the bottom line is that the author is trying to find some loophole or some new angle in which they can debunk the Pro-Life movement. It is just so sad to me that my friend, like the writers of these articles, is so desperate to find some argument or point of view that proves people don’t really have souls so their conscious can be clear if they or a friend should choose an abortion.
I could drown in the quick-sand of addressing each of these articles and blogs, but I’ll save us all the pitiful sight of more of these online shouting matches. You may think I am choosing to remain ignorant by not hearing out each of the Pro-Choice arguments, but I think I can safely say I don’t need to hear anymore. Why? Because I know what I saw today. I observed, with my own two eyes, my own son-with a skull like mine, two eyes, a nose and little fists and I saw him get uncomfortable-the same way I do in bed at night-and roll over. From this point you can level every argument known to man against the Pro-Life viewpoint and it simply wouldn’t make sense to me. Recently NARAL was upset when a Doritos commercial humorously depicted a baby shooting out of the womb to grab a chip. They tweeted “#NotBuyingIt – that Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses…”. “Humanizing fetuses”? Besides the silliness of the baby reacting to the Dorito outside the womb, in what way did the creators of the commercial humanize the fetus? Maybe the people at NARAL have never seen what I saw today, because the fetus in an ultrasound is plenty human on its own without any manipulation or editing. Trying to tell me what I saw today isn’t human is the same as telling me a puppy isn’t a dog, or a sapling is not a tree: it just isn’t rational.
As the days go by I only get to watch my wife’s belly grow, but she gets to feel the little guy squirm, kick and roll around. His movements are a daily reminder that he is alive and well and Shelly’s growing womb is an undeniable sign of the eventuality that our son will have completed his stage of dependency on the confines of mom’s body. We will soon hold in our hands a crying, breathing, human baby ready for the outer world.