I wrote this post on Christmas day in search of a new way for me to meditate on the value of this holiday. It is written in good fun and sometimes a little tongue and cheek. I hope you enjoy it.
Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
My Name is Mary, I am originally from Nazareth. This is the story of the birth of my son, Jesus.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
I am not sure what Jesus’ due date was. But he was born on the 25th of December.
What was Jesus’ weight and length?
He was 7lbs 7.7 ounces and 21 inches long, with a head full of dark, curly hair
Please give a brief, one paragraph synopsis of your birth.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, Joseph and I traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Seventy miles. It was a long arduous journey; I remember my contractions began to come in stronger waves just as we spotted the lamps of the city shining in the distance. We still had four hours of walking to do, though. Joseph suggested I sit on the donkey to rest, but it was too uncomfortable to sit – much less on a donkey. So I walked, and walked and walked. I kept my eyes open and looked up to the hills and I took in the arid landscape around me through each contraction.
When we finally arrived in Bethlehem Joseph found an inn for us to stay, but the innkeeper, seeing me in labor (I was really making a lot of noise through my contractions by this point) told us he did not have any rooms left. But I really think that he didn’t want us to use his room for giving birth. Either way, he directed us to a stable. At that point, I just needed a quiet place to focus and go inward.
The good news was that there was a midwife that was staying at the inn. Upon learning that I was in labor she and her daughter came and assisted me through the rest of my birth. I’ll never forget her gentle, reassuring presence. Joseph was relieved to have them there, too. He had never seen a woman in labor so, as you can imagine, he was starting to have concerns as to what he would do when the birth time came.
Jesus was born after 27 hours of labor. I pushed for about an hour. It was hard and often painful, but also beautiful and peaceful.
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
I was able to witness many of the women in my family labor and give birth. It helped seeing and knowing what to expect when it was my time to give birth.
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
Laboring outside – I’ll never forget the crystal clear night and the bright, bright stars in the sky. I remember looking up to the sky in prayer and taking comfort in the creation around me.
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
The smell of stable was quite unpleasant.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
I was surprised at how my emotions and thoughts affected my labor. At one point, I had a deep, powerful contraction – I knew birth was imminent. I remember how scared I was. I leaned against a large, round rock and stretched my hands out to God as I cried out in pain. At this point, I knew in my heart that I was scared, not of labor, but of mothering – how could I ever do a good job mothering the Son of God, the Messiah? That’s so much responsibility! I remember shutting my eyes and I began to cry – I wept as I clung to the rock. My life had changed so much already with this unexpected pregnancy, now the weight of raising my son as the Son of God was right before me. How would I do this? It was then that Joseph came to me, held me in his arms and told me (as if he knew what I was thinking) that we would simply raise this child as our son – the son of a carpenter, raised in Nazareth, born of Mary, quiet and lowly… and we would leave the Messiah part up to God. So simple, but it comforted my heart. After I came to terms with this idea of God raising our son in the ways that we couldn’t my labor seemed to get easier. I think the fear that I had of becoming a mother kept my labor from progressing, and once I let that go, my labor sped up and the contractions seemed to flow over me with ease.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
I would have acknowledged the concerns I had about becoming a mother sooner and had dealt with that fear before labor started.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
How quiet the world seemed to be when I placed Jesus against my chest and sang the Shema over him – it was as if the world was listening.
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
Well, I didn’t expect to give birth in a stable. And I had this crazy idea that because I was giving birth to God’s son that my labor would be fast and easy, but it wasn’t. It was long and hard. In reflection, I think it needed to be. The work of salvation is not a quick or easy work, and so my labor took the shape of salvation’s work.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
I felt alive with wonder and thanks. I felt blessed and in awe of this beautiful child. His dark eyes and olive skin. His lusty cry. I felt very connected to the destiny of my people.
How would you describe your recovery?
It went well. The midwife treated me with herbs and kept a close watch on me. The shepherds that came with their flock also made sure I had lots of yummy sheep’s milk.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with Jesus changed in the last 2000 years since the first week of having him?
You know, all these years, my perspective has remained the same. I am still filled with wonder and awe at the memory of Christ’s birth.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
I learned that my job as a mother is no greater than any other woman’s role of mothering their child. We instill what we are able to, with great wonder and fear of God we approach raising our children, and we learn to let God parent the areas that we cannot. We trust that God uses everything to bring His Grace to our life and our children’s lives.
I am so proud of my son, and I’m grateful that I was able to play a role in his life on earth.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to other women?
Being the best mother you can be is more important than how you labor or where you labor. But I do recommend that women know what to expect during labor and have a good team to support them through it.
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
Have faith that if you are chosen, that you will be able.