I have been carrying my son in my body for 29 weeks now. It has been another one of the greatest adventures of my life to date.
It has been an eventful pregnancy (likely the most eventful one I’ll ever have), as my son and I have traveled across the world together. With 53 flights to over 15 states and two countries, we have met many, many people. We’ve met all kinds of different strangers in airports, hotels, restaurants, on public transit, and more - people of every race, religion, and class in every different setting imaginable. It has been wonderful, and I can’t wait to tell my son the many stories of all the places we went together with our two hearts beating inside my body.
Something interesting happened along the way of our journey. Once my son was big enough to begin showing himself to the world in my expanding belly, there has been a way people have looked at me and treated me that is like nothing I have yet experienced in my life.
People treat me as though I am carrying something sacred.
I have wished countless times that I could somehow capture the way people look at me. I receive daily, constant smiles from strangers simply because my belly speaks a reality without me saying a word. Beyond that, people have been willing to do anything for me. Sitting in the only spot of shade I could find on a hot day at my brother’s baseball game, a kind man walked up just to see if I needed anything. People ask me what I need all the time. People carry my bags, make exceptions for me to skip lines, and hold elevator doors longer when they’ve seen me coming. This “special treatment” has been wonderful, but something about it - my interactions with these hundreds of people - doesn’t add up with what I see our broader culture saying every day about what I am carrying.
I live in a country with a Senate that wouldn’t even pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. I live in a culture with an innumerable amount of celebrities, politicians, and the like, who champion Planned Parenthood - an organization that would happily dismember my son at any point if I walked over to them and gave them some money, because to them my sweet son is just a “fetus.” To them, killing my child would be lumped into my “reproductive rights,” because, as they say, it’s “my body, and my choice” to do what I want with it. And yet... just the other day, a young man in his twenties ringing me up at Trader Joe’s sweetly began our conversation with, “How’s your baby?” Beyond my special treatment, nobody once, in the thousands of people I have met, called my son a fetus. Nobody referred to him as a bunch of cells. Everyone always referred to him as my baby or my child - and each stranger has recognized his personhood. And I have realized one thousand times over...
I am living a startlingly clear and firsthand testament to what humanity really knows and really believes.
Because there is a part of each of us, deep down in the depths our hearts, that knows we were all right where my son is right now...inches from the thrum of the heartbeat of our mother for many months. We may not have memories of it, but a part of us remembers when we were there. We cannot forget it. There is a part of our human hearts that simply cannot escape the reality that yes, each of us lived in the cozy darkness for that time when we grew ...and each of us knows in the core of our being that we were as human then as we are now. Every single one of us.
No matter what people may say, I have seen it and I have known it well the past 29 weeks...anyone can shout and scream and push their agenda all they want about women controlling their "own" bodies and what a woman is actually holding inside of her body when she is pregnant. But I have come to see with clarity that when any of us stands before a pregnant woman - in that one-on-one, agenda-less, Facebook-less, stripped down to our foundational humanity encounter, we know what she holds.
We know she holds a human. We know she holds her child. We know she holds the future of the world.