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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Labors Of The Nativity

by Aimee (bio)

Here is ScottHeff and me, 42 weeks pregnant and going on 23 hours of labor. Walking the neighborhood and climbing the stairs was our last-ditch effort to get this baby past seven centimeters. Otherwise, I had to report to the hospital from the birthing center. Little did we know we had 8 more long hours to go before we would officially become parents.

You can probably guess that we ended up at the hospital.

And now, 15 months later, as I look down at my belly and find myself ripe with child again, I can’t help but anticipate the next delivery ahead of us. Hopefully this one will go smoother (please, oh, please!). I am crossing my fingers that this baby comes spontaneously so I can try for a VBAC (apparently now called a TOLAC—Trial of Labor After Cesarean). If not, a c-section is not the worst thing in the world. Prepare yourself for the classic cliché: All we really want is a healthy baby.

And we do.

Speaking of deliveries, did you see CJane’s beautiful post on their recent unassisted birth? It is worth a read. Articulate, relationally loving, spiritual, and body positive. She also had a post a few days later that mentioned the ultimate birth story of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Her words combined with my state of  pregnancy during this season got me thinking ...

Who was there to see the Son of God take his first breaths and hear his sweet baby cries? Did they bring in a local Bethlehem midwife? Or did Joseph deliver the baby boy? If so, was this progressive of Joseph for the culture of the time? (Would we dare call him modern?)  Did someone teach him how to cut the cord? For some reason I love to picture him learning how to do that task. What an incredible man he must have been to be so trusting and to have so much faith in Mary that he would be by her side to deliver this baby (not his) with her.

Clearly, Joseph was one of the good ones.

And close beside the manger bed 
He dimmed the lantern's light, 
And held the little Jesus close upon that holy night. 
-Children's Songbook #38

If there was a midwife, what an honored calling to be entitled. Who was she? What was her name? Was she a seasoned midwife—having delivered many little humans? Did she realize that the baby she was helping to bring into the world would grow into the man that would ultimately be her Savior? Did she and Mary gain that universal bond you feel with the person who helps bring your baby into your arms? If this midwife did exist, it is unfortunate that she and the other women helpers may be forgotten players in one of the most celebrated and important births in all of history.

How I wish I could read Mary's birth story of her first born son.

A rare art piece featuring midwives in the nativity scene via Google.

Do any historians out there know the customs of the time regarding birthing? Please shed any light on the topic.

Unassisted, home, birthing center, adoption, hospital or in a manger, there is something powerful in witnessing a baby entering the world in all settings.

 May the spirit of His birth be with you this Christmas season.

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