by Chris Beneteau
The mystery of motherhood was never more apparent as I sat nervously and stroked the face of my wife as she gave birth to our ninth child (Lila) by caesarian section. This is a mystery that we fathers can never truly understand because, while we may experience the pain of seeing one of our loved ones suffering, we can never willingly embrace pain so that new life will emerge from our bodies.
Upon entering the operating room, I noticed that my wife was shivering intensely, and the doctor said that this was a side effect of the anesthetic. As we made eye contact a big smile appeared on her face and she was so happy to see me. Like most males, I immediately went into problem solving mode. My wife was experiencing intense stress and discomfort, so I started to think about what I had to do in order to calm her down. Her heart rate and blood pressure was through roof at this point, so I decided to start talking about what the other kids had been doing at home that morning. Almost immediately her heart rate started to come down, and the doctor whispered that I was doing a “great job.”
The doctor however, was focusing on the health of my wife and my child so she could not see what I could see. Here was my wife going through the pains of major surgery and all she could think about was her children and how they were doing. This is the sacrificial nature of motherhood that will never be fully understood by fathers.
Most of us fathers, in contrast, will try to do everything in our power to protect and support our families at great sacrifice to our independence and comfort. Motherhood, howerver, is a whole different level of sacrifice. I firmly believe that my wife and the majority of other mothers out there would instantly offer up the own lives for the safe arrival of their children into this world.
Contrast motherhood with the brutality of abortion and we see that abortion is nothing more than a perversion of the true nature of sacrifice. One involves the giving up of one’s life so that others will live, while abortion involves the paganistic practice of choosing to destroy someone else’s life, so that they can live.
As the team of doctors delivered our beautiful daughter into the weeping hands of her mother, I was struck by how glowing and radiant my wife looked despite the obvious exhaustion. Her head was surrounded by a blanket that contained a few streaks of blue. In some ways it looked like a veil or halo, and for some reason all I could think about was Mary embracing Jesus for the first time or mother Theresa cradling an orphaned child in her arms. For some women there would be no tears of joy, or congratulatory well wishes, but tears of pain as these same wonderful doctors sacrifice the life of a child as a result of a choice.
My wife is no saint but I certainly believe that she will be in their company someday. As for myself, I will continue to slog through fatherhood and be confounded by the great mystery of motherhood.