Life Is Fragile, Mother's Love Is Fierce
In recent weeks, three friends of mine, in separate yet related ways have left me awestruck at the fragility of life and resilience of a mothers’ love. Their stories are a testament to the value of human life, the strength of motherly love, and the need to protect the vulnerable and weak. More powerfully than political jargon, more eloquently than any argument; these mothers and their children bear witness to the sanctity of human life and core foundation of the pro-life cause.
One mother gave birth eight weeks early. She and her baby were rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section and her tiny, premature baby is now being cared for in the NICU. As the baby fights for her life, the efforts of the medical team are mingled with the tears, prayers, and hopes of her mother. Her little body was meant to be nestled, safe and snug in her mother’s womb. Instead, an incubator and countless wonders of modern technology attempt to recreate what a woman’s body just does so well – provide nourishment and safety for the life of the unborn. How magnificent is a woman’s body, powerful and plentiful.
How fascinating the innovations of modernity which work to sustain the life of a child born too soon. How devastating the movements of modernity that snuff out life at exactly the same stage. At the hospital where this mother, father, and the medical team are fighting for a fragile human life, other babies are brought to be aborted. Same hospital, different floor. Same gestational age, different circumstance. The only perceivable difference between a baby brought to be aborted and a baby in the NICU is whether that child is wanted. Should this be the measure used to weigh the value of any human life?
Another resilient mother began noticing labor signs during her second trimester of pregnancy; a troubling occurrence, especially for a woman who has suffered previous miscarriages. Determined to preserve the life of her preborn child, no matter the cost to herself, this mother is resigned to bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. She is an active woman who loves cooking for her family and hiking outdoors, but she will sacrifice her desires for the sake of her little one.
How counter-cultural this decision. Women are told that to get ahead they must delay motherhood or forego it altogether. That the nuisance of pregnancy and the burden of motherhood are fetters holding women back. The “nasty woman” who is unafraid to say or do whatever she wants is heralded as the heroine of the feminist movement and the at-home mother mocked. But doesn’t the mantra, “my body, my choice,” ring hollow compared to the heroism of, “this is my body, given up for you.”? Every epic movie hinges a hero or heroine unafraid to risk it all for the sake of a greater good.
Mothers are specially made for sacrifice. Far from being a weakness, this is a sign of fierce feminine strength. Mothers have an unparalleled ability to offer their lives for the sake of others. To paraphrase St. John Paul II’s famous quote: woman can fully find herself only through a sincere gift of herself. And that gift of self begins the moment a child is conceived in her womb. I have known women who have spent entire pregnancies on bedrest and ones who have given themselves daily shots of progesterone to keep their babies alive. I have heard heroic stories of women carrying their babies and giving birth in the most devastating of circumstances; willing to withstand any hardship for the sake of their children. It can be hard to chose life, but women are perfectly capable of doing so!
The pro-life witness of the third mother cuts me to the core. Her full-term baby was stillborn. His entire life existed only in the place and for the time that society says life does not matter. Can you imagine this mother’s pain? She offered her body to nourish him, she felt him move within her, she celebrated the gift of his life while anticipating the gift of his birth; only to have him born not into her arms but into the arms of our Heavenly Father. And yet, this fiercely faithful woman said, “We are grateful for the nine months in which he was entrusted by God to our love and care. ‘The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” She testifies to the fact that his life had meaning and that he was here for a reason.
The arguments about when life begins or when it should be protected continue to swirl about our world. But this baby who lived only on the inside for nine months testifies to the fact that pre-born life is vulnerable, valuable, sacred. His heart which beat its last before he took his first breath reminds us how fragile life is and how narrow the divide between life and death. His life reminds a culture confused about when life begins that from the moment of conception a unique being is created, never to be repeated, worthy of respect. Would the loss of mere tissue break a mother’s heart or cause a family to mourn the loss of a son and brother?
The stories of these three mothers and their children compel us to cherish the gift of human life. In a world that so often values life only when it is wanted, belittles the role of sacrificial motherhood, and denies the life of children in the womb, these mothers and babies are poignant reminders of just how fragile life is and just how resilient a mother’s love can be. When it all comes down to it, isn’t that the core of the pro-life movement?
How thin the veil between life and death. How fragile the precious gift of life and how fierce is a mother’s love. Let this be the core of the pro-life movement. Let it be where we start and end as we build a Culture of Life!