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Man and Woman He Created Them Sans the Pink and Blue Balloons

St. John Paul the Great's "Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body" was an eye-opener for me when it came to navigating through my relationship with my husband when we were in the beginnings of our relationship. It certainly helped define my role in a relationship and outside of a relationship as a woman. We live in a world where everyone (family, society, companies, special interest groups, etc) has an opinion about what it means to be a woman and how to be a woman. Speaking as a mother of a toddler (holy cow, where has the time gone?), I have witnessed first-hand how soon we are bombarded by these voices that seek to define us.

I was one of those wonderfully heinous mothers who decided to not find out whether I was having a boy or a girl. I didn't care either way, but could feel the tension early on in the pregnancy as soon as news got out. 
"What do you mean you're not finding out?"
"What do you mean you don't care?"
"You would make shopping for this baby a lot easier if you just told me!"
"You're having a boy, you're just not telling us. I know it's a boy."
"Definitely girl. I can tell by the (insert arbitrary reason here)."

I think everyone else was more stressed out than we were about the decision to not find out the baby's sex. My reasons were simple. I did not want to be bombarded with blue or pink items before the baby was born. I already knew so much about the baby after so many ultrasounds so I welcomed a surprise. Speaking of surprises, the epidural didn't work, the labor took forever, and I ended up having to get an emergency C-Section...and since the epidural didn't work and I could feel them cutting into me, I was put under. The last thing I remember is telling one of the people in scrubs that I was Catholic and wanted the baby baptized if anything happened. I can honestly say that the sex of the baby was the last thing on my mind during that terrifying experience.

I woke up to someone handing me a baby and saying "Here's your daughter." Very anti-climactic, but still a very interesting experience because much of the sex-related fanfare was absent from the birth. No huge pink balloons, no pink cupcakes, nothing. Just me, still fuzzy from all the drugs that had been pumping through my body, holding my daughter in a sterile, hospital environment. I am sure this was anything but a Kodak moment what with all of the grime clinging to my body at the time, the grime associated with hours of labor, a surgery, and a birth. The first thought that crossed my mind as I held her for the first time was "how in the world could someone ever allow me to hold someone so small and fragile?" Then the second thought hit...this was MY daughter. Of course I could hold her. My husband and I were the ones who did the allowing, so of course I could hold someone so small and fragile. It was a strange experience, but one that turned into a very religious experience.

Here I was, a child of God and now a mother. I had brought a small child into the world after endometriosis, PCOS, amenorrhea, and other issues that, statistically speaking, virtually guaranteed infertility. I had been charged with raising a defenseless, tiny human whose life depended on my ability to feed her, care for her, love her, and worry about her nonstop until the day I died. Forget pink and blue, boy and girl. All of the color-coded BS society pushes upon us from the moment a baby's sex is determined is completely superficial and unimportant. It does not hold a candle to the momentous occasion in which you realize the beauty and the power of being able to take part in God's creation, whether it is through the birth of a biological child, adopted child, etc. The moment that child is born, a new lifetime begins to unroll. There is so much potential in that lifetime and so many stories that have yet to be told. The transcendent moment in which a child is born to continue a lineage that stretches back to the dawn of mankind, a lineage that connects us all by our genes as well as our inheritance as stewards of this world. This is what matters more to me.

My child, to this day, wears animal prints, unisex Finnish onesies, and a number of other articles of clothing that lead people to mistake her for a boy. I don't even bother to correct them when this happens. The joy she brings to the eyes of my father, who started a family late and never expected to live to see his grandchildren...that is what matters. The joy she brings her father whenever he comes home from a long day of work...that is what matters. The joy she brought me on the day she gave me a first hug, or the day she spoke her first word...that is what matters. Not the pink balloons. 

Pax Vobiscum

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