A love story
by Christian Childbirth Educator
Alexander, North Dakota
While scripture doesn't give us a detailed description we know the birth of Jesus was unique, safe, and joyful afterwards, even if we don't think about the birth itself. In our 'modern' world we 'need the same joy' after our child's safe unique birth. The good news is, help is available here and now.
In this story I explore the childbirth experience of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to help us understand what we are sometimes missing today.
By researching the scholarly books, written by Christian historians and archaeologist, we can get a idea of Israeli society around the time of Jesus Christ's birth, but the understanding (that comes with feeling what
their life was like) will take the empathic work of our imaginations.
start our story with a brief glimpse at their society and then narrow our
focus down until we can take a leap of faith and explore Jesus birth through
the experiences of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and some others. Everything
is scriptural that is scriptural, and I only fill in missing parts. Although
some of this story can't be confirmed with scripture it does ring true with
what we know. It doesn't contradict scripture, Mary's, Joseph's or Jesus's
human nature, or the common childbirth back then, I hope you enjoy Divine
dedicate this story to all the wise people of the world who are working to bring birthing joy to as many of the families of the world as possible.
When Archaeologist dig up the remains from a earlier time in history they find artifacts and remains of homes that can help us picture their life, especially when we combine these findings with writing from that time. They are constantly digging in Israel, and when they compared
these findings with the Holy Bible's descriptions they found that family life, at the time of Jesus's birth, was their life.
lot of children in a family, plus older generations, no formal or public
school, lots of household and farm work to do, mainly religious social
gatherings, and small homes, we can imagine children growing up in the
love and protection of their elders. If we compare their
life to ours we may be free but definitely less protected. These were the Israelites of the old testament where individual life was reserved for Kings, and prophets.
take a look at childbirth, in their society, we discover that mothers
resumed their household responsibilities right after the birth and midwifery
was common. Breastfeeding was extended, and ritual
circumcision was accomplished with only a slight nick.
always the prospect of danger, because Israel was a occupied nation, but at
the time of Christ's' birth Herod The Great had brought peace and prosperity
back to the land.
Mary was glad to wait, sitting on their donkey, while Joseph went inside to see the Inn keeper. She had given up her self-will way back in the beginning, when the Holy Spirit had first taken control. Ever since then her life had been one miracle after another.
the visit from the angel Gabriel, where she first heard that God had a plan
for her life, and then the incredible fact of her conception while still a
virgin. Her husband could have put her away for that, but instead he had
become a most wonderful man. Her family could have
abandoned her but her cousin Elisabeth called her blessed of all women, and said her unborn child had jumped for joy at the sound of Mary's voice... .
Now she would be away from home at birthing time, with no midwife or women relatives to help her, and yet she was not afraid!
had been long and she had passed the time lost in these wonderful memories
and now, as she felt her body caress her child just a little bit harder, she
smiled. It was just like the Lord to give her one more challenge.
Joseph wouldn't take no for an answer. After all Mary had said she thought birth was near, and he couldn't let her labor in a tent out in the open. The innkeeper was just as insistent, with all the people coming to their ancestral home in Bethlehem all the rooms in town were filled to
overflowing. The innkeeper had even taken relatives into his own home, as had everyone else he knew. These travelers would just have to take care of themselves, but Joseph wouldn't leave. He knew how crowded Bethlehem was but this innkeeper just had to help them.
"Okay, okay" said the innkeeper. "There is one place you can go for shelter. Out back, we have a stable where we also put up our guest's animals."
Joseph thanked him profusely as the innkeeper showed him the way.
been a long journey for Joseph and Mary, and Joseph had walked the whole
way. He said a silent prayer that God would give him strength to 'be there'
for Mary, during the birth. He knew God was near in his dreams but Joseph
still had doubts. After all husbands weren't usually
involved in childbirth, and all he was told to do was to make her as safe as possible, but since they were a long way from home (in a town where they were strangers) he would have to be Mary's helper too.
"Come Mary," said Joseph, "this kind innkeeper is making a place for us."
"Here, you can have as much room as you need, and to insure your
privacy I will shut the gate for the night." said the innkeeper.
"It's a late hour and no more travelers will come now, and I don't have
any rooms if they do." (I'm sure the innkeeper felt safe in doing that,
they were such a nice couple, and she was obviously ready to deliver, and Joseph had paid in advance.)
"Well this is wonderful, Joseph!" said Mary. "Let's pray, and thank God right now."
And for protection through the night, thought Joseph. He didn't share that thought with Mary until she had finished praying, and Joseph closed their prayer with that request.
had settled over Jerusalem by then and three Gift Givers were almost there.
Angels were telling shepherds good tidings of great joy and the praises of
the heavenly hosts were filling heaven. This would be a
night for the ages, and when joy flooded over Joseph and Mary she became elated.
relatives had talked a lot about their births with her, and midwives had
shared all they could about how she would feel (and she had witnessed
relatives giving birth). This had all encouraged her not to fear, but the
midwives had also instructed her on what to do if she had pain; but what she
was feeling now increased her faith that everything would be fine, and she
loved and trusted Joseph.
Joseph finished rubbing down their donkey for the night and provided plenty of hay and water, while Mary did a little tidying up.
was starting to really tighten up now, during
contractions, and she needed to stop walking when that happened. Even then she felt wonderfully secure. God is so good to us, she thought.
Her cousin Elizabeth said she felt close to God during John's birth, and during the bliss afterwards. Mary remembered all the prayers relatives had spoken and she just knew some were praying for them right then, and what was that? Did she really hear angels singing?
get proud of myself, thought Mary, It's only the beginning of the birth. The
other mothers had told her how she needed to be open to what was happening
and, since every birth is different, there isn't one clear path. Mary also
knew that talking would distract her now but she
felt good enough to start lightly humming the tune in her head, on this silent and holy night.
When Joseph returned to Mary, and saw how content she looked, tears came to his eyes. He knew this childbirth would change their lives, but what was it the angel had said in his dream? This child will save his people from their sins. What kind of baby would this be, thought Joseph,
and how would he feel towards him?
He was glad to see Mary happy, and just her presence seemed to put these anxious thoughts away.
walked over beside her, and put his arm around her shoulders. She smiled
sweetly, and what was that sound? Later Joseph would say that he thought he
heard angels singing.
"It stopped!" exclaimed one of the three travelers. "I think we can be there by morning." They had been following the star every night for weeks and they knew the end of their journey was finally in sight.
Mary asked Joseph to make a bed of straw for them, as she needed to rest, and he choose a corner for preparation. He was tired too and laid down next to Mary. Before long they were both asleep.
"Is this a Dream?" thought Mary. It was not daylight yet but something had awaken her, or was this a dream? Suddenly she felt a strong force pulse through her body that was unlike anything she had felt before, and she realized it was almost time for birth.
"Joseph" she called. "Joseph I think its time."
Joseph was instantly awake.
"What's happening Mary?" asked Joseph, as he stood up.
Mary was on her hands and knees with the next contraction and she felt her child move noticeably down into her softer tissues. The suddenness took her breathe away, and that's when her water broke.
Tears flooded down her face, and she couldn't control them as she looked into Joseph's eyes. There was something she needed to tell him, something she needed to ask, but she couldn't remember what.
Joseph could tell this was the real thing and not knowing what else to do he reached out and drew Mary to her feet. As he wrapped his arms around her the animals in the stable watched, with rapt attention.
The thought "Something wonderful is about to happen" flooded Mary's mind and, already thankful when Joseph held her close, she felt better.
She was still on her feet when another overwhelming feeling began to course through her body, and the intensity of the sensation made her knees weak.
The silence in the stable was
broken by a long low groan that took
Joseph by surprise. Mary had gripped his hands right before she suddenly
squatted in front of him, and he was shocked when he realized the sound was
coming from her.
Mary would say later that her mind had gone blank, and the sound seemed to come out on its on, as she spontaneously squeezed her whole body with the contraction. She had felt better when she squatted and there was no pain, only the sensation of fullness an great pressure.
This would be the only time she
would feel the urge to push, and
when the sensation passed she felt her whole body start to relax. Joseph
was on his knees in front of her by that time and Mary leaned towards him
and put her head on his shoulder. He felt his own heart pounding rapidly as
he took the weight of Mary's body in his arms. He had never witnessed a baby's birth before and he prayed for wisdom as he tried to calm his body with long slow breaths. Time seemed to slow down for Joseph and he became aware of Mary's heart beating, almost in time with his.
Mary was in a almost dream-like state when she felt another sensation building up in her body. She wouldn't tense up with this contraction and remained slumped against Joseph. He could feel her breathing pick up and suddenly another sound came from her lips
Mary felt a slight burning sensation right before her whole body seemed to explode with the most wonderful feeling she had ever experienced. She was still leaning on Joseph when her body seemed to pause for rest.
After a short time she felt her body contract again, and another wonderful feeling went through her as she felt her child slide out.
When she suddenly leaned back on her hands and then laid back on the straw bed, Joseph beheld the child laying at her feet, and gasped, and his breath stopped.
When he saw how perfect the child looked, and so tiny, he felt the warmth of love flooding his mind, body, and soul. This child would grow up under the umbrella of his protection and fill their lives with joy, but at that moment Joseph only knew that this child was like no other.
Mary raised up and, filled with
compassion herself, she reached
down for her child. Joseph lifted the baby up to her outstretched arms and
she drew the child up towards her breast. Jesus's eyes locked on hers, and
when his lips found her breast Mary bonded with her child, body and soul,
and became the universal mother we love today.
When the innkeeper came to the stable at dawn he saw Mary nursing her child, with Joseph sitting beside them. The sight was captivating and he stopped, and just stared with wonder. After awhile, and not wanting to intrude, he quietly slipped out unnoticed. Nobody was leaving the Inn that day so they wouldn't be disturbed and he could quietly feed the animals later.
There had been no need to sleep anymore that night for Mary and Joseph, and they marveled at the child in their presence Joseph no longer needed to wonder how he would feel towards this child, as joyful contentment quieted his mind.
Mary was filled with feelings of fulfillment too as she got to know her child. The baby Jesus napped on and off, but when he was awake he looked at his surroundings with the most amazing alertness and delighted joy.
Joseph and Mary would never again puzzle about the meaning of their life. These feelings and their experiences after Jesus's birth gave their lives a deeper meaning than they ever thought possible and lasted their whole life.
Others would come to behold the child, and three would leave gifts. There would be another dream for Joseph that would prompt him to take his family and quickly leave for Egypt, but for now there was only these feelings of peace, hope, love and joy.
Neil Sorrells is the author of 'Shanjerneil' insights from and results of a peak birth experience, and is currently working on 'Writing Shanjerneil', a book about his decision to become a childbirth educator
"Neil Sorrells" <email@example.com>