By Drew Griffin
We live in a culture obsessed with the topic of pregnancy and reproduction. Disagree with me? Then turn on any nightly news cast, watch any cable news network, or peruse any number of blogs throughout the course of the week and you will be struck with the number of stories and posts concerning abortion, pregnancy, reproductive rights, teen pregnancy etc. The trial of a Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell has gripped our hearts and disgusted our minds for weeks. Reality shows about pregnancy, teen pregnancy, kids raising kids, dot the wasteland of cable and Netflix. Somehow I think that when God commanded us to be about the business of being fruitful and multiplying this was not exactly what He had in mind.
A week ago in the Huffington Post’s Parents blog an article appeared that has just now garnered some attention. An expectant father, writing anonymously under the nom de plume Albert Gilbert, penned the article My Wife is Expecting Twins and I Am Not Happy About It. The title says it all, the author and his wife are in fact expecting twins and they are not happy about it; and not this is not hyperbole. Gilbert writes,
“To say we’re excited would be an exaggeration. More truthfully, we’re pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful. Why regretful? Because we brought this on ourselves. This is what we wanted, so to speak.”
Following the birth of their first son, Gilbert and his wife decided to try for a second. After two years of unsuccessful IUI (intrauterine inseminations) they turned to IVF (in vitro fertilization) and they successfully conceived twins. Their reaction was, well, lackluster.
“Thankfully, we nailed it on the first try. But while we were hoping for one girl, instead we got two boys. My initial reaction was full of disappointment, anger, fear, and guilt. My wife, who had been dreading the possibility of twins for weeks, took it worse. In her mind, this was her fault, since she’d encouraged the fertility doctors to put in two embryos to stack the deck.”
Gilbert and his wife briefly considered reduction (selective abortion of one of the twins), but thankfully, they chose to keep both.
Each paragraph of Gilbert’s piece oozes with disappointment and bitterness. He describes the “brutal” infancy of their first son,
“Those first six weeks were brutal. Then the colic arrived. Two months later, we were shattered, frazzled, damaged. Two years later, our son was still waking up for hours on end in the middle of the night. Three years later, we still struggle mightily with a boy who’s fiercely strong-willed and seems to inherently know that crying pushes our buttons.”
That experience has left them fearing a future with two more sons in the mix. There is a tiny bit of hope, Gilbert confesses,
“Sure, in 10 years I could have close to a starting five of super-athletic, NBA-hopeful alpha males living under my roof smelling up the joint. But right now it’s hard for us to see twins as good news.”
Gilbert closes his rant with the sentence, “They say the most important thing is the kids’ health — but what about ours?”
News of this article has been met with loud lament on the part of a number of the usual suspects. Twitter and Facebook lit up this past week with comments of how horrendous, disappointing, and discouraging this article was. But what does this article really tell us and what should our reaction be?
What modern parents are expecting
Gilbert’s article, which is more of a confession than anything else, is really a story of unmet expectations. They were expecting to conceive one child to round out their family and provide a sibling to their son, they conceived two. They were expecting to conceive a girl, instead they got twin boys. They expected parenting to be easy, instead they have found it to be difficult. At every turn the Gilbert’s dream of child rearing has seemed thwarted by reality. In an era of gene selection, selective reduction of multiple pregnancies, and select abortions of children with Down-syndrome or other maladies, preference seems to be the name of the game in modern parenting. Parents want what they want, when they want it, and if those expectations are not met, the reaction is often one of profound disappointment.
How we as Christians should react
Parenting is difficult. From pregnancy to preschool and beyond the labor of raising children can often be exhausting and painful. Despite this truth, it is easy to read Gilbert’s article and response with incredulity and righteous indignation. For anyone who has struggled with infertility or suffered a miscarriage, any complaints concerning the gift of children are not well received. The Gilbert’s expectations of pregnancy and their outlook on the future seem to fall woefully short of the Christian perspective on procreation. Christians are called to view children and the rearing of children as a solemn duty and a joyful pursuit. While children are extensions of our personalities, they are foremost images of God to be raised in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4) They are to be told of His great works from generation to generation. (Psalm 78:4) We as parents endure the helplessness of infancy and the toddler tantrums by reflecting the example of our heavenly Father, who continually astonishes us with His steadfast love.
Ultimately parenting it is not about us, our wants or our desires; raising children is about reflecting the image of God. We should recognize that each one of their young lives is but a canvas for God’s grace and a vehicle for His glory.
So we should pray. We should pray for the Gilbert’s that their hearts might be softened. We should pray that God would bring individuals and believers into their lives to help them as they struggle with the demands of parenting. We should also pray for their twin boys, that God would give them both grace. And we pray that one day, when they read their dad’s article, they might know and be grateful that the Heavenly Father’s grace is greater that their earthly father’s expectations.
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