This time a year ago I was celebrating my birthday by cuddling my baby – with my arms instead of my uterus – having just met him on the outside for the first time.
SBJ was born thirty-four years-minus-four-hours after me, and conveniently arrived at 11.10pm, just squeaking in to get his own birthday.
Not that I would have minded sharing. He’s very good company, and I could gladly shimmy over and make some room for him.
My husband is on nights at the moment, so I have just woken on my birthday, cuddled up to my baby again. He still sleeps in our (now gargantuan) bed, which suits us all very well. As a child, I apparently kicked a lot in my sleep, so wasn’t great to share a bed with, but SBJ is cuddly and not wriggly at all in his sleep. He does sleep-crawl still, and last night I wondered if he had inherited my family’s tendency to sleep-talk. My sisters and I have lots of stories of sleep-conversations from whenever we’ve shared bedrooms. Anyway, that’s a digression (but I’m allowed one on my birthday, right?)
Being both a December baby and a December mother, I have developed an affinity for Mary’s perspective on the Christmas narrative.
I missed a huge whanau gathering for my uncle’s 70th birthday when I was eight months pregnant. We couldn’t face four hours in a car or countenance being an hour away from a major hospital. If only Mary had had such autonomy. I just can’t imagine – or rather, I am now much more able to imagine, with horror – how she must have felt hauling her tired bones across country.
I wrote a bit more about this on my occasional blog at Kiwi Families earlier this year:
At nine months pregnant, it was coming up to Christmas and I thought a) I would emphatically not want to be walking to Bethlehem right now, donkey or no donkey, and b) did no one in Bethlehem see a pregnant woman looking for a place to stay and want to accommodate her? Seriously?
I’ve never before appreciated how isolated Mary must have felt. Not only was she on her own with Joseph having her first baby without her family around her, but she was the exception to the seemingly universal rule that people get excited about pregnancy, even that of a stranger. How sad.
Anticipating your labour is scary enough in modern Aotearoa, let alone in occupied Israel, centuries before Entonox, antibiotics or ultrasound. The Message begins John’s Gospel with ‘the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’ Mary’s role in offering her flesh, her blood, to that endeavour, while being shunned by whole neighbourhoods is pretty astonishing.
You can read the rest here. I’d love to hear your thoughts – there or here – about Mary, Christmas babies, or the intersection of pregnancy and spirituality, or (just about) anything else!
And a cheeky birthday self-promotion request (a once-a-year indulgence, I think): if you feel like giving me some birthday love, do you think you might be able to share your favourite Sacraparental post with a friend who hasn’t met us but might like to? That’d make my day