The dilemma of giving life or denying it

This is about the one who cannot speak, whose drop of life is only a cluster of cells that has scarcely begun. The one who is silent and without opinion who can’t even help the woman who has helped conceive it. The one whose only existence began by chance — perhaps by a mistake or a moment of carelessness.

In legends, I have read that males invented 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 sinning that was born when she carelessly 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.

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, when he can’t get pregnant?  Is this an advantage, a limitation, or 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 the pain you’ll have to face, the work you’ll have to sacrifice, the freedom you’ll have to give up — deprived of fun, a slim waistline, sleep, and the frustration wondering when those stretch marks will ever go away.

And the terrible question is: 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 the parentheses 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?

Some women ask themselves, why should they bring that child into this huge and ruthless world that could be sad and ugly? Just 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 a magnificent effort to eliminate war and peace? These are thoughts that strike fear in every woman’s heart.

The first time I saw the photograph of the four-week-old embryo of my first daughter, all my fears went away as quickly as they had come.

She looked like a mysterious flower — a transparent orchid. One could make out, perhaps a kind of head, with two protuberances that would become the brain, lower down a cavity that would become a mouth. At four weeks, it was almost invisible.  My doctor explained she was 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, lungs.  The heart was already present and it was big in proportions — nine times bigger than mine, it pumps blood and beats regularly from the 24th day on.

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, a slim waistline, and sleep, frustrating over the stretches that won’t go away?  I accept that children interrupt; they interrupt career, journey, vacation, appointments, games, erotic attachments, telephone calls, self-development, education, meditation and other enlightened, useful and joyous pursuits including the challenges of splendid or horrible possibilities.

A pregnancy is not a 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 won’t 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. You will be born, that is an arrogance no mother can resist.  To carry that child, whether that child likes it or not, it has no opinion.

“So why did you bring me into this world, why?”

The answer: because I was wrong to think I could impose a choice on that unborn child. It happened because the magic of maternity could happen, therefore it had to happen. I don’t have a choice but obedience — that child whose first encounter with the world is a desperate wail, when everything will make it cry, hungry or angry.

I will wait when that first smile comes. It will be given to me, because I did the right thing: I obeyed!!


E-mail Mylah at [email protected].

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