We realize that not everyone will be celebrating the Christian world’s most beloved holiday of the year, but perhaps we might ask for your indulgence for just a moment as we pause to consider what might be quite possibly the greatest birth story every told. Not that we need to compare one birth story to another, but we thought we would just point out one or two lessons learned –whether you believe it actually happened or not– that can be applied universally to the work of a doula.
As the story goes, an angel from heaven appeared to a young women by the name of Mary and told her that she will soon become the mother of the Son of God. She was a virgin who was engaged to marry a man by the name of Joseph. An angel, perhaps the same one, also appeared to Joseph, instructing him that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, though she was obviously pregnant and not with his son. The whole series of events seemed to have been divinely orchestrated with angelic interventions. Though utterly unexpected, they must have taken some peace in the knowledge that there was a plan in place. Yet perhaps neither Mary nor Joseph were fully prepared for how this birthing experience would unfold.
It was tax season among the Jews, and according to Roman custom (to whom the Jewish people were subjects), each man was require to return to the town of his ancestry to there pay his taxes. Consequently, Mary and Joseph made their way to Jospeh’s ancestral home in a town called Bethlehem. It was a notable journey from their prior residence in the town of Nazareth, and though there was no record of Mary actually riding any sort of animal to make the journey, one might safely assume that she must have been riding a donkey or something similar. Whether on foot or on an animal, the journey probably helped to prepare Mary to give birth, perhaps even encouraged the contractions along!
Arrangements for a place to stay must have been hasty upon their arrival. Either she was already laboring when they arrived, or they were running late in comparison to other travelers (again, probably because it was slower going than either the first-time mother or father had anticipated). Whatever the reason, lodging accommodations were not to be found, and so they sought shelter in a stable. It was entirely unexpected, apparently very ill thought out, and utterly humiliating on all accounts.
What started out supposedly so divinely-orchestrated ended in what appears to have been a complete fiasco! But then angels came again, this time to shepherds in fields near Bethlehem, with an amazing message that they would find the new-born baby, the Son of God, lying in a feeding trough wrapped in mere rags. The shepherds found Joseph and Mary still in the stable. How did anyone know they were there? Well, Heaven knew where this new little family was staying, and the shepherds told them as much. This news brought a significant affirmation to Mary. She thought on the shepherds’ words and then must have realized, though it wasn’t anything like what she probably was expecting, it was perfect.
Such is the role of the doula. No matter what the outcome may be, no matter what the original plan was, a doula’s work lies in helping the mother to understand the majesty and significance of bringing new life into the world and she, the mother, is wonderful for doing it!
And so, perhaps with this slightly distinct perspective on the wonderful birth story that is celebrated at this time of year, whether you are Christian or not, we say “Merry Christmas!” and we look forward to another wonderful year working with you!