Mothering in Sickness and in Health

Mothering in Sickness and in Health

Rachel Balducci of Testosterhome has written a lovely column for Respect Life Sunday. She describes a phenomenon I’ve encountered many times and has the perfect response:

There is an interesting exchange people like to have with a pregnant woman. It goes something like this: Boy or girl? You don�t know? Well, as long as the baby is healthy, that�s all that matters.

Of course, a pregnant mother prays for her unborn child, for his health and wholeness, for a safe delivery. But I started to realize, after several of these exchanges � but what if it�s not? What if things don�t go smoothly? Is that really all that matters?

The truth is that with God�s grace, it would still be okay. A baby�s health is important, but it isn�t all that matters. What matters is Life.

I have watched women walk through the very scariest childbirth circumstances, the kind a mother prays against. �Be with me, Lord,� we pray, �spare us from that.� But what we don�t always remember, what these women have learned firsthand, is that in the midst of that, there is incredible grace. And there is the beauty of life.

I have known families who must walk through those situations we dread. Some have babies born with severe health problems, babies who will struggle physically their whole lives. Some will give birth to a baby that cannot live, a child they usher into the world knowing they will soon usher that baby back up to heaven.

And in the midst of it all � there is God. And there is the beauty of life.

As we celebrate Respect Life Sunday, we think about life in all its forms. We pray for all those babies that will not experience the joy of Life because of the sin of abortion.

But we�re also incredibly grateful for all the babies that will experience life � those babies who have health of body; and also those precious babies that may suffer on earth but draw us closer to Christ through their beautiful health of spirit.

These babies remind us of the thin veil between heaven and earth, of the incredible gift of life, and that in the midst of it all, there is God.

Of course, I’m still not exactly sure what to say when I get the line, as long as they’re healthy. I suppose the shortest and sweetest response would be something along the lines of: I’ll love my baby even if she’s sick.

Once a lady was admiring Bella, telling me how beautiful she was, which is true, Bella is a very beautiful girl. And she said something which shocked me, along the lines of what would you do if you had an ugly child. For once I had an answer that tripped smoothly off my tongue: I would love my child no matter how they looked. I said it with such finality that she was rather taken aback, which was my intention. That pretty much ended the conversation because she didn’t know what to say next. I hope it gave her something to think about.

The truth is every life is precious and even though I find it hard to know what to say when I encounter these kind of statements, I increasingly feel the necessity to say something, not to just brush off the casual thoughtlessness.

Also, see Fr. Fox’s homily.

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