Let's Try Not to Use Babies

When Kate Middleton was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, lots of women who suffered through the same malady felt a sense of sisterhood.  When she got close to her due date, lots of moms groaned in sympathy -- not so much over the pain of the last few weeks, but over the attention she'd be getting.  What pregnant women want most of all in the third trimester is to be left alone, and this poor woman had more than just the usual wisecracking grocery baggers and curious old ladies watching her -- she had a whole nation, and then some.  Women everywhere felt a connection with her.  Even though she's "royalty" (whatever that means), even though she's poised and lovely and unerringly gracious, pregnancy made her an awful lot like one of us.

Then the baby was actually born, and something weird happened.  People who had sympathy for Kate Middleton -- who recognized her humanity, her ordinariness -- saw her brand new baby as an opportunity. 

There were some, of course, who saw it as an opportunity to be repulsive.  Pro-abortion bloggers like Amanda Marcotte, who may be some kind of sociopath, but she is not stupid, realized that there is no clickbate like being nasty about a newborn.  (I won't link to her, because I believe in privacy for the mentally unbalanced.)

But even pro-lifers took the baby and ran with him, like a political, sociological football.  "Kate Middletons' baby is born, and yet many in the UK are aborted because they have cleft palate" said one article just minutes after the birth was announced.  "Strangely enough, nobody's calling the new young prince a fetus!" another pretended to marvel with heavy irony.  And I even saw some lamentations that we are reading headlines about a baby -- a baby, of all things -- being born, when anyone who's not a card-carrying member of the lamestream media can see that the real story is the Pope's arrival in Rio for World Youth Day, harrumph harrumph.  Get lost, royal baby!  Who do you think you are?

Catholics, please.  Be classier than this.  A baby has been born, and that's good news, no matter whether it's the little velvety woogums who happens to be third in line for the throne, or the little velvety woogums born to your mailman's 16-year-old daughter, who everybody said was up to no good with that boyfriend of hers.  A baby is a baby is a baby, and when a baby is born, you stop for a moment and rejoice. Period.

In my own tiny way, I know what it feels like when people use my children as a statement.  When I trundled up with a giant belly and someone asked if it was my first, and I said, "No, it's actually my ninth" -- they assumed I was having a baby at them.  They assumed that I was trying to make a statement, or start a movement, or drive home a point, or turn the tide, or cause a ruckus, or reform the culture, or put them to shame, or something.

When in fact, all I was trying to do is have a baby.  Because I like babies, and they like me.  I imagine Kate Middleton had something of the same motivation. 

I understand that pro-lifers feel like they need to jump at an opportunity to make a solid point.  It stings a little bit when so many people are so in love with a child they never met, and yet they would be willing to abort their own flesh and blood if the timing is wrong.  It stings when our own beloved Vicar of Christ is stepping off an airplane to thunderous applause, and that's not news; but it is news when some has-been country with an irrelevant monarchy manages to string itself along for another generation.  I get it.

But I'll tell you what, that baby doesn't get it.  He's just a little guy who wants his milk and a clean diaper, and he wants someone to wrap him up warm because it's weird and noisy out here, and he doesn't know what happened to him.

Sometimes, Catholics have fought so long and so hard for the things that matter -- for peace in the family, for justice, for something good and wholesome happening in the world for once -- that when it actually happens, we don't even recognize it.  We're like a kid who's been concentrating on building an elaborate sand castle all afternoon, and when we get up, we're so stiff and dizzy that we trample all over it without even realizing what we're doing.

It's a baby, folks.  Let's not turn him into something else.  Let's not use the little guy.  He's not a pawn or a talking point.  He's a real person.  Doesn't matter who it is:  a baby is always good news.