It's Christmas Eve in our household today. We normally start the day with a big family breakfast, and then we get to our favorite part of the day- opening the stockings. We do this on Christmas Eve because we've started a tradition to gift each other a book and chocolate. We've probably had this going on for the last 5 years now, and we've enjoyed it so much. The rest of this day will be spent with family, by the fire, eating, and sharing stories. We are eagerly awaiting the birth of Jesus.
Christmas Day brings a whole new meaning to my eyes after becoming a mother and even moreso after working in birth and maternal wellness for the last 3 years. Think of this time: a young mother who is ready to give birth to her first child. I now often think about her delivery experience. What did God intend for His Son's arrival? I find myself wondering about her contractions and how she probably needed to support herself on that donkey ride to Bethlehem. I'm sure that Mary felt these contractions long before actually going into active labor in that manger. Call it the mother's instinct or the will of God, but she and Joseph pressed on through those contractions and got to Bethlehem. We don't really know exactly how the labor experience went, but what we do know is that Jesus was born in a manger. I'm sure these conditions were not at all ideal, but Mary's active labor moved swiftly, and she needed a place to birth her son. She left it up to God's will, and one of the most miraculous free births took place.
I also often think about the role of women and childbirth in the Bible. The word doula means servant. First, when Mary finds out that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant, she goes to visit and offers her service to her cousin. It is very likely then that she was present for Elizabeth's labor. Could Mary have been Elizabeth's doula? Then, when Mary accepts the message from the angel that she will bear God's Son, she calls herself "handmaid to the Lord." Handmaid is another word for servant. Is Mary then both mother and doula for Christ?
Can you even imagine how amazing it would be if we left mothers to their own instincts when it comes to birthing children? Can you imagine the shift in our Healthcare System regarding birth? Can you imagine the change?
Can you even imagine the positive impact for mama, baby, and family when a doula can offer support where the system cannot?
As you enjoy this holiday with your loved ones, and you're cozy by your fires, I hope that the stories you share can be filled with JOY for each other. I hope those joyful tales can be as resounding as the story of the birth of Jesus. And, my hope is that you can offer a story of joy for others, too! As a birth doula and breastfeeding counselor, my goal for 2023 is to continue supporting families and bringing joy into their lives through my work in maternal wellness, and I look forward to walking in JOY with you.