Sunday, February 22, 2009

The beginning of "Life": when it IS

I really wanted to start this post with a clip from "My New Suit" (Scrubs, season 5), but turns out those aren't on YouTube. So you have to put up with my much less comical recap.

Remember the one where Turk and Carla are pregnant, and they pick names for the baby (a girl name and a boy name), and then Turk tells J.D. the names and Carla gets all mad at him?

Remember the scene when Turk and Carla at at the apartment, talking about little Angie, or little George, and how great everything will be? But then they freak out, because Turk was a climber -- what if George tries to climb out of his crib, and ends up falling out the window? Or if Angie inherits Carla's colicky nature and doesn't sleep through a night for the first year?

They panic, and decide those were stupid names. They're not going to name the baby until it's born.

"I hate it when things get real," Turk says.

You know when "Life" begins?

When the mother thinks of it as her baby.

Yes, I know Scrubs is a goofy show, but art imitates life and it's funny 'cuz it's true. When Turk and Carla named their future child, the baby became "real." It became a person.*

In a way, yes, "Life" does begin at "conception" -- at the conception of the idea. We are not robots ruled by science ("Life" begins as point X when conditions P, Q, and R are met; when you mix ingredients A, B, and C and element E is created), we are thinking, feeling beings. We interpret everything around us through our thoughts and emotions; why would this be any different?

This is why, for one woman, that baby will be a baby from the second she sees that second pink line appear. She has created life by deciding that parasite (because, technically, that is what it is) inside her is her baby. While, for another woman -- say, me -- that second pink line means a whole lot of things, but not "baby."

When I went to the clinic and they did the sonogram, they informed me I was three days past twelve weeks. This meant two things: I had to pay more (second-trimester abortions are more expensive, even if you're only three days past the cut-off), and that I had to have a D&C, which was a two-day procedure. They did Step 1 that day, then told me to come back the next day.

That night, while the ex was watching something or other, there was a commercial for Johnson & Johnson baby lotion, and, generically, it featured a mom and baby doing mom-and-baby huggy-kissy stuff. For a split second I put my hand on my swollen-enough-to-make-my-jeans-hard-to-button stomach, then realized what I was doing and made myself stop. Because if I didn't, I was going to be in big trouble.

You know why the beginning of "Life" has nothing to do with the moment of fertilization?

Have you ever met a couple stuggling to conceive?

Every time that second little pink line does not appear, they suffer a loss. Because that child has already been conceived in their minds, and each time it does not happen, they mourn.

"Life" is much bigger than science. I wish we were that simple, but we are not.

*Yes, this is a goofy sitcom; they had obviously thought of the baby as their baby, as in it was "alive" to them, before that moment. Please remember these are characters in a scripted, goofy TV show, not real people. This was the writers illustrating the moment when it "hit" them, that this was a person who was coming into their lives. You get my point.

1 comment:

  1. This post was perfect, Criss - you hit the nail on the head. I don't think I could add anything to how you've put this, except to say that this really is the only thing that can explain how the attitude towards pregnancy can change so drastically depending on the circumstances in which it occurs. Thank you so much for writing this with so much sensitivity and honesty.