A Mother's Diary

Fiorella Nash FAITH Magazine May-June 2006

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” my grandmother-in-law commented, when I made the mistake of telling her that I was starting antenatal classes. “Just take deep breaths and push. That’s what the rest of us did.”

I am not sure quite what I was expecting when the Parentcraft invitation slipped through my door. I had already turned down pregnancy yoga classes on the grounds that I would be the annoying person who giggled at some crucial moment in the meditation and ruined it for everyone else. I think I imagined that Parentcraft sessions would involve E and I running the gauntlet of breathing exercises, beanbags, whale music and thinking beautiful thoughts that I had heard about on the urban myth circuit. I was pleasantly disappointed at how practical it was – not a beanbag in sight and only one relaxation exercise with the lights off. If anything, the only notable thing about it was that we were visibly the youngest couple present. Everyone else was at least in their thirties; grown-ups who couldafford slick new maternity clothes, aerobics DVDs and birthing balls [I didn’t even have the nerve to ask what a birthing ball actually is]. By contrast, we felt like a pair of scruffy kids who had had to ask our parents’ permission to be out so late.

The average age in the UK for a first birth [note first birth not first conception, the distinction is significant] is now twenty-nine years of age and will shortly be over thirty as more and more women postpone motherhood until their thirties and forties. The serious medical consequences of this trend are finally being openly discussed and make for alarming bedtime reading. Women in their thirties and forties have diminished fertility, are at higher risk of miscarriage and are more likely to experience birth complications requiring a caesarean section. E and I ought by rights to be feeling very pleased with ourselves for being responsible enough to start making babies nice and young, i.e. at the time at which nature intended women to have them, but this is no longer regarded asresponsible or even normal behaviour by society.

“I wouldn’t have been in quite such a hurry myself,” commented a friend when she found out, which made a refreshing variation on “babies already?” and “gosh, you’re a bit keen!”
The amusing thing is that the more society treats you like a child, the more you start to play up to it. “Why can’t the stork just bring them?” I found myself asking aloud after a recent Cambridge Faith Forum talk.

“Is there something I need to explain to you about where babies come from?” answered a priest.
“Oh, so the stork can’t bring them then?”

One of the most distressing pieces of information I received before going on maternity leave was that Amnesty International is currently holding a consultation on whether it should adopt a pro-abortion policy. To some extent, the debate is already over for Catholics as Amnesty sold the pass on sexuality years ago; the organisation already supports a right to contraception including the abortifacient morning-after pill, which it claims does not cause abortion, and affirms ‘sexual rights’, a term which includes such gems as the right to a pleasurable sex life. Sweet as it is of Amnesty to affirm my right to an entertaining night in with my husband [or anybody else for that matter] I find it hard to believe that there are so few prisoners of conscience left in the world that Amnesty has theresources to waste on these matters.

The consultation to date has not filled me with much hope. The material Amnesty has produced has been strongly pro-abortion and a seminar held in London last year was addressed by exclusively pro-abortion speakers. However, on the off chance that someone out there is listening, I would like to make my contribution to the debate:

Dear Amnesty,
You will not know who I am, but over twenty years ago your organisation came to the aid of my father when he was a prisoner of conscience in our motherland. You believed in his innocence and campaigned on his behalf, ensuring that his plight was not forgotten.

I have never forgotten the debt that my family owe you and over the years I have rattled tins, waved banners, written letters and sat in a damp cage for hours at a time – small actions that conveyed my gratitude to Amnesty for standing by my father when he would otherwise have stood alone.
But now I come to you with another request and ask you to listen to what I have to say.

I am in the final stages of my first pregnancy. I am carrying a boy, my father’s first grandchild, and I want to ask you this: please uphold the rights of my unborn son as you once upheld my father’s rights. You protected my father when he was defenceless, but my son is more powerless than my father was and has no voice, yet you are seriously contemplating siding with those who would deprive him of the most fundamental human right of all. Please do not fall into the trap that so many corrupt regimes fall into, of stripping an inconvenient section of the human family of its rights. Please do not turn your back on forty years of human rights work for the sake of embracing a flawed ideology. Your current slogan is ‘protect the human’. Please do so.

Faith Magazine

May - June 2006