Monday, March 7, 2016

John Legend deserves a girl

And a girl is what he's going to get. Thanks to a whole bunch of misguided science.

In an interview with People, the singer's wife, Chrissy Teigen,  said, “I’ve made this decision. Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, ‘Let’s put in the girl.’” The article refers to gender selection as an IVF “add on” that's “a bit controversial.” But all's well that ends well, right? Teigen elaborated on her choice, saying, “I think I was most excited and allured by the fact that John would be the best father to a little girl. I think he deserves a little girl. I think he deserves that bond.”

Now if only those other fertilized eggs, those unfortunate other girls, and those rejected boys, could get what they deserve. But aside from that sticky little issue, isn't it odd that everyone from single men to the wealthy Hollywood set, to the sadly infertile couple you know from work, all think they deserve a child—and will go to whatever lengths necessary to get one? Or two? Or eight?

It's a strange time in history, because prior to 1977 if you couldn't get pregnant, well, you couldn't get pregnant. You were Hannah in the temple, pleading with God. You were Sarai, making desperate choices to give your husband an heir. But you weren't mixing babies in test tubes, selecting which one you would give life to. You weren't scrambling together eggs from one woman, sperm from across the country, and inserting them in another woman's womb, absent the unifying act of marriage, at a huge monetary cost.

The thing is, we don't deserve any of the blessing we receive. Infertility makes that crystal clear. Children are a gift from God. You can't force a blessing upon yourself. You can try everything to make new life happen: switch to decaf coffee, eat pregnancy “super foods,” visualize yourself pregnant, don't think about getting pregnant, or (my personal favorite, after our infertility) start a new hobby. “When you're not thinking about it, it will happen!”  says someone with two sets of twins and another on the way, who is also 26 years old.

We don't deserve children. Our entitlement culture encourages us to think we do, and an industry has grown up to fill this need. It's the same impulse that prompts people to buy houses that are too big, cars that are too expensive, and keeps the mall parking lot packed each and every day. You deserve this. It also keeps divorce lawyers awfully busy. You deserve better/different/more.

We destroy children when they aren't wanted, and create them when they are wanted. Industry giants like Planned Parenthood making millions passing out contraceptives and aborting children. Then when the switch flips—we have houses, degrees, fatter bank accounts, our friend has a really cute baby—there's another industry ready to give us the very child we went to such lengths to avoid. And in this process, there is even more death.

It's a post-Christian world, it's lucrative, and it's lethal. There's a saying attributed to Augustus about the tyrannical ruler Herod the Great: “It is better to be Herod's pig than his son.” He had his favorite wife and children killed, but he didn't eat pork. John Legend's sons haven't fared well, but his (male) bulldog, Puddy, has been given a mock wedding. Maybe if and when the urge strikes to give Puddy a brother, Legend and Teigen will pick another baby from their stash of frozen embryos, and “put him in.”

I hope John Legend does cherish his little girl. And may they learn that parenting is not about what mom and dad think they deserve or want or need. It's sleepless nights and poop stained clothes, thirty-second showers abruptly ended when the toddler flushes something down the toilet. It's a sanctifying process (much like infertility). So even though moms may deserve a full nights sleep, a warm meal, and clean clothes for a whole day, that's not always how it works. Thank God.