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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's About the Baby

Occasionally, I like to write personal essays. In honor of my son's birthday today, I thought I would share this one with you that I wrote a couple of years ago, but pulled out and updated this year. I hope you enjoy, and all have a very Merry Christmas!




I about fell off the examination table when the ultrasound technician told me my due date was December 25th.  “Are you sure?” I asked, hoping there was some kind of mistake, or at least some cruel joke. While this pregnancy was “planned”, we certainly had not intended to have a holiday baby. My cycles had not been very regular after going off birth control, which is why we needed an ultrasound to date the pregnancy in the first place. So I was more than a little bit shocked when she reassured me that yes, this baby was measuring on course for a Christmas delivery.

My first thought was for my poor, unborn baby. He would never have a normal birthday! How terrible! My own younger brother had been born on Christmas day, so I knew firsthand how depressingly lame it was to have a birthday on the same holiday when every other kid gets presents too. If I could choose my child’s birthday, that was the one day of the year I would NOT choose.

A little more selfishly, I thought of my own ruined Christmas. We wouldn’t be able to travel to visit family. I would have to put up decorations with a nine month bulging belly. I would have to try to coordinate shopping and presents and holiday baking around the possibility of going into labor at any moment. Certain traditions were just going to have to be thrown out the window. And now I faced a lifetime of planning not just Christmas festivities, but birthday cakes and a double load of presents at the same time too. Christmas was going to be ruined, and I was grumpy about that.

I woke up in the hospital on Christmas Day, sore and tired with a two-day old baby. We signed the paperwork to be released and brought our baby home for the first time. Nothing that day felt like a normal Christmas. I’m sure there were some presents; I don’t remember caring about them. I think my mom made dinner, but I can’t remember enjoying it. I don’t remember if we played any Christmas music or watched any Christmas movies or did any of those normal Christmas things. It was a very untraditional Christmas.

The only thing I do remember, vividly, is holding my new baby. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and scared about the responsibility for this new little life. I remember hobbling around in pain, completely surprised at the sheer physical toll of this motherhood thing. I remember my baby crying all night long because he was hungry, and I cried myself because breastfeeding with a C-section scar was so much more difficult than I anticipated. It was a stressful, overwhelming, painful day.

But I also remember the incredible, pure sweetness of that day, bringing my first newborn son into our home. I remember snuggling that newborn softness, knowing that nothing else in the world mattered but that sweet little boy in my arms. I remember the feeling of awe at the miracle of his new life, at the bright future of hope before him, and the overwhelming love I felt. That year, Christmas was all about the baby.

This year is a much more normal Christmas. This year is full of all the traditional celebrations. This year is busy with addressing Christmas cards and delivering plates of cookies to our neighbors and traveling across town to wait in long lines for that necessary photo of a baby crying on Santa’s lap. This year is full of parties and shopping and travel to visit loved ones and more shopping. Christmas day will be full of lots of presents and a big meal with family and many normal, wonderful Christmas things.

But amidst all these wonderful, traditional, normal things, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for that Christmas day four years ago, when nothing was normal. That Christmas I thought was ruined. It was so much simpler, so much more elemental and clear, and I’m trying not to forget the lesson of that day. Because that was the year that I experienced so perfectly what Christmas is truly all about.

It’s about the baby.

Not just my baby, but another baby boy, born two thousand years ago to another mother. I wonder if she was just as scared and overwhelmed and tired as I was. I wonder if her baby boy cried all night, and if she cried a little bit too. I imagine she did. I think about her often this time of year, because now I know what that first Christmas day truly must have been like. There was no tree, no fancy dinner, no presents to open (the Wisemen didn’t show up for two more years). No, that first Christmas day was simply about a new mother and her precious, percious baby.

It’s about the hope and love and promise of peace that baby brought. It’s about stopping to remember that because of that little baby two thousand years ago, my baby today can grow up with peace in his life, and hope of life to come.

At its essential core, Christmas is about babies. Newness, innocence, peace, and a life of promise ahead. While everything else this time of year is nice and fun, it’s good to remember that none of it is very important.

The only thing that really matters is the baby.


*Photo: Painting by my lovely and talented friend, Cassidy Stephens.

2 comments:

  1. This is absolutely beautiful.

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  2. 2 years ago I too was due to give birth on Christmas Day, oh I prayed mightily the baby would come early. So I sooo relate to your feelings. Fortunately I gave birth to a girl 3 days before Christmas and in many ways it was actually rather a spiritual Christmas. I felt I journeyed along with His Mother on the journey.
    Yes I had to be more prepared but I ensured Christmas was simple that year. I only said to my husband this year that actually looking back I think it was a great Christmas, we enjoyed a slower pace, a more restful time than most of our Christmases.

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