The responsibility of choice

IN the legends I have read thIn the legends I have read that males wrote to explain life, it was said that the first human creature was a man called Adam.  Eve arrived later, to give him pleasure and of course, trouble. But it wasn’t sin that was born when that careless woman Eve picked up an apple. What was born that day was a splendid virtue called disobedience, for which she and the rest of the women will bear children in that indescribable pain during child birth.

I’ve been taught that to be a mother is not a trade.  It is not even a duty.  It is only one right among many and what an effort it will be to convince others of this fact. How can a man understand a woman who is expecting a child? He can’t get pregnant.  Is this an advantage or a limitation– even a privilege?

There is something glorious about enclosing another life in one’s own body, in knowing yourself to be two instead of one. Invaded by a sense of triumph, nothing bothers you. Neither do the pain you’ll have to face; the work you’ll have to sacrifice; the freedom you’ll have to give up; deprivations of fun, waistline and sleep; the frustration of when those stretch marks will ever go away.

And now comes the terrible questions:  What if that child did not want to be born?  What if someday it were to cry out its reproach? Who asked you to bring me into this world, why did you bring me into it? In a world when moments of joy are parenthesis for which you pay a cruel price, is there a way to know if it wouldn’t be better if you throw that one away–the one who cannot speak, whose drop of life is only a cluster of cells that has scarcely began? Perhaps not even life, only the possibility of life, silent and without opinion, who can’t even help a woman decide with a nod or a slight sign. This cell’s blossomed through chance, perhaps by a mistake or a moment of carelessness of others, man’s inhumanity to another when he violated a woman, among those consequences. How would I even know  if that cell loves me?

We ask ourselves, why should we bring that child into this huge and ruthless world that could be sad and ugly? So it will be hungry, cold, betrayed and humiliated, to be slaughtered by war or disease? Rejecting the hope that hunger will be satisfied, cold will be warmed, it could be a world of innocence and gaiety, if they devote a life with magnificent effort, to eliminate war. These thoughts that strike fear in every woman’s heart.

A lifetime ago, the first time I saw the photograph of the four week old embryo of the first daughter, all my fears went away as quickly as it had come.  She looked like a mysterious flower, a transparent orchid. One could make out, perhaps a kind of head, with two protuberance that will become the brain, lower down a cavity that will become a mouth.  At four weeks, it is almost invisible.  My doctor explained she is about an eighth of an inch, but she was growing a suggestion of life with something resembling a spinal column, a nervous system, a stomach, a liver, intestines and lungs.  The heart is already present and it is big in proportions — nine times bigger than mine — pumping blood and beating regularly from the 24th day and beyond.

How can anyone throw that away?  What do I care if I’ll be walking around in a swollen belly for months deprived of fun, waistline and sleep, frustrating over the stretches that won’t go away?  I accept that children interrupt useful and joyous pursuits, including the challenges of splendid or horrible possibilities.

But a pregnancy is not punishment inflicted by nature to make you pay for the thrill of a moment.  In the darkness that enfolds the multiple breathing cells, who is not even aware of its existence, who could be thrown away or butchered and would not have known, who wont have a way of knowing whether I’ve done it wrong or a favor bringing it out on this world.

In accordance with the only arrogance that is legitimate, every  mother takes the responsibility of choice.  A child will be born — that is an arrogance no mother can resist. The child has no opinion whether the mother will choose to carry it.

I was wrong to think I could impose a choice on that unborn child. t happened because the magic of maternity could happen.  I don’t have a choice but to obey that child whose first encounter with the world is a desperate wail. Everything will make the child cry: light, hunger and anger.

I waited when that first smile came. It will be given to me, because I did the right thing…I obeyed!

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E-mail Mylah at moonlightingmdl@aol.com

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