Motherhood is an exulted vocation because she bears in her being a life from heaven and earth. For nine months of pregnancy a mother reflects on what is happening in her womb. Along with morning sickness comes a time of wonder. Kim Neyer reflects, "I used to lay on my side with my hand tucked underneath my belly. My son would rest on my hand and I could feel every movement. I would close my eyes and try to picture what his face might look like and envision his personality based on the way he moved. Another woman wrote, "The feeling of life, a child growing inside is truly magical. I remember feeling that I was just overflowing with love and goodwill when I was pregnant." (pregnancy.com) The father experience is pregnancy is far from the mother but he can also participate, one wrote, "The transformation of my wife was very inspiring. ... I think the thing I enjoyed most about her being pregnant was the expression of contentment, peace, fulfillment, contemplation, wonderment on her face."
The mystery of motherhood deepens when we consider that, "Every dawning motherhood has received the sweet visit of the Holy Spirit. The Fiat of the Annunciation is repeated by every woman accepting in herself the incarnation of love. The veneration surrounding motherhood is due to the fact that a woman becomes the mother not only of a body but of a soul. The majesty of the Creator descends upon her marriage, as she becomes the guardian and priestess of a life given by God. Something of the imperfect priestly character of the Mother of God is given to each woman as she brings down to earth a soul, by her consent, and as she offers it to God, as the Mother of God offered up her Son. Each new child with baptism becomes a brother by adoption of Christ, co-heir of heaven." (Futon J. Sheen, Three to Get Married, Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1951, Ch. 13)
Then comes the time of birth which can be summed up in these words, "When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world." (Jn 16:21) Here is an actual experience. "Without waiting for another contraction, I gave another push, and then whoosh! ... My husband's priceless, passionate words, 'Oh God, it's a baby!' And mine, 'A boy!' I leaned back in ecstasy. He had made it to us! He was here! Alive, beautiful, perfect! We looked at each other, unbelieving. We were shaken by the miracle, we had been rocketed together into an ecstatic awareness of God's presence and proof was right here between us: this new being, our son." The father experiences experiences a spiritual awakening, the realization, "I am a father". The baby draws from the their unconditional love, a love which is "tangible, primal, transcendent, experiential and transforming", a father's love which is willing to sacrifice his life for the life of the child. (Rose St. John, Father and Birth, Ringing Bell Press, 2009, Ch. 6)
(1919 photo of my grandfather Giovanni and family on my mother's side.)
St. Paul tells us that all fatherhood in heaven and earth originates with God the Father. The Son is begotten by the Father, not made. What does this means? "The Son is generated not by part of Himself, nor by a division of Himself, nor by a power issuing from himself, but by a plenitude of all that He is personally." (Ibid., Ch. 14) So, the inherent desire of mankind to increase and multiply was willed by the Father from the beginning so that His eternal fecundity might be revealed in creation. Human fatherhood is a reflection and a participation in the creative power of the Father.
With mystical insight Bishop Sheen ayes this of the father. "His is the supreme moment of self-recovery, the re-signing of a lease on life; it is time's best moment, when a man feels, within himself, the shimmering refraction of the eternal joy of an eternal Father begetting an eternal Son and saying to Him in the noontide of paternity: "Thou art My Son; I have begotten thee this day" (Ps 2:7). As the Son is the Lumen de Lumine, the Light of the Light, so in the newborn infant is "flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone."
While the mother brings forth the child physically, the father undergoes psychological changes. The realization dawn that he is now a father fresponsible for the support of his children.