Transformation through Birth
“I just love him! I know he hasn’t done anything yet. He doesn’t really have any personality yet, but I just love him!”
“Yes,” I responded to the new mother, “it is like God’s love for us. He loves us simply because we are His kids.”
Within the last two months, I have had the deep joy of witnessing the birth of two more grandchildren. Counting all our kids in the various ways God has grown our family (i.e., birth, adoption, foster) brings our children to seven, and now our grandchildren to nine with one more due in April. We feel that we have an embarrassment of riches.
As I’ve enjoyed the privilege of being on hand to witness the transformation that new parents go through and to re-experience the wonderful emotions that course through the veins of “Grandma” when a new grandchild comes along, I’m reminded anew what an amazing transformation happens because of love.
The nine months of gestation for a human baby is a miracle in itself as the fetus develops in such a remarkable way from something resembling a tadpole to a tiny human being. With current ultrasound technology, parents even have an idea what their baby will look like at birth! But to me, equally amazing is what happens to the parents during these nine months of preparation. From the excitement of “We’re going to have a baby!” to “Yuk, I don’t feel so great, but I think this will be worth it.” And then anticipation grows exponentially as the baby starts kicking and the reality sets in that a real live human is in there! As the weeks count down, the parents’ enthusiasm heightens. They can hardly wait to hold that baby in their arms, to kiss, caress and cherish. They think more and more of this unborn child as a real entity and prepare for the arrival as for a dignitary. They clean everything, launder and organize the clothes, prepare a bed and so much more. All of this they do for a person who is completely unaware of any of it. But no matter! This is our baby.
And then the day comes. Labor begins, and for some of us it goes on for a very long time. There may be times the birthing mother feels she can’t endure any more of this agony (they call it pressure. Ha!), but then she remembers that she must. She must endure and persevere, for this is the only way she will hold her darling. And then, all of a sudden, there is the child! “My baby!” she cries. And a woman transforms into a mother. She marvels at the love she feels for this beautiful creature that is covered in blood and vernix, whose skin is red and whose head is probably pointy. She will do anything for this baby. She may already be thinking, It was worth it! It was worth it! All the months of discomfort and more recently the hours of intense focus and labor. Now her every thought is for that baby. She can’t sleep if it isn’t near. She startles if the breathing changes. She instantly awakens at its slightest cry. With concern she checks everything to make sure all is well. She has become one with this helpless infant. She is now the provider and protector and would fight to the death if necessary.
It is awesome to behold this transformation of a mother. I have personally experienced it a number of times. But watching the transformation of a man to a father—that is something, too. The man marvels as the baby begins to move inside the mother, giving the first tangible proof of its existence. He may begin to interact with the unborn child—talking, reading, singing or simply touching the mother’s abdomen and wondering what this child will be like.
As the months go by, the anticipation grows as the eager father yearns to hold this “flesh of my flesh,” this child that will make him a father. And when the day comes, he, too, labors beside his wife, holding her hand (or letting her squeeze his), rubbing her back, reminding her how to breathe, comforting her, encouraging her, hiding his own concern for the unborn child and the difficulty that his wife is experiencing.
When that child is born, it is with such a sense of relief and joy that he hears the words, “Here’s your daughter!” or “Here’s your son!” And miraculously the man becomes a father. His world has just expanded to include someone other than himself and his beloved. Someone so helpless and perhaps strange looking has just become his responsibility, and he senses the burden of it. But more than the burden is the joy! As the father holds his newborn, flesh to flesh, emotion wells up within him—a love like none he’s ever experienced. He marvels that this is his, and he vows in his heart to love and protect, provide for and guide this, his child. His prayer becomes, “Lord, bless this child. May h or she come to know You and love You. Direct us as we guide him/her to grow in You. Thank You, Lord, for my child.”
And from that day on, the man and woman, now father and mother, will do anything for the good of their child.
God, too, experiences the joy of anticipating new birth. He, too, has labored, persevered and endured sheer agony for this new birth to be possible. He has already gladly given everything and sacrificed all for the love of this, His child. I’m humbled to realize this is His love for me, and I am transformed.