Note: This is a piece of historical fiction. The Bible only gives us a couple key facts about the birth of Jesus which leaves the rest to the imagination. As I reflected on the coming Christmas Season, I started thinking about what it would be like if I attended Jesus’ birth as Mary’s doula. This is simply the story of what I presume I would think and feel and see as I witnessed the virgin birth, and is not supposed to be regarded as fact.
If I were Mary’s doula, the story might have gone like this…
There’s a young, unmarried girl named Mary who has been causing quite an uproar. Recently, she disappeared for three full months and no one had any idea where she went. Later, rumor went around that she fled to the hills to visit her elderly aunt who is supposedly pregnant. Now that she’s returned, her secret is out: She’s clearly pregnant too. But what’s really bizarre is that she claims she’s still a virgin! Of course, no one is really buying it and she continues to be slandered everywhere she goes.
This whole story is all very strange to me and yet I can’t help but feel for her. I don’t believe a virgin could conceive and yet my mind can’t stop thinking of her. She must be scared, she must be confused, and she must feel overwhelmed as she navigates this new world of pregnancy and motherhood without anyone who believes in her. As much as I don’t want to associate myself with the drama, I just want her to know she’s not alone.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw her in town that day. We happened to cross paths and I instantly felt conflicted. Should I talk to her?
“No,” I thought, “just keep walking.”
But then, as if I didn’t have control of my body, I approached her.
She’s hesitant at first. Clearly she is used to being ridiculed, shamed, and disregarded. But I introduce myself and ask her to tell me her story. She slowly starts to open up. She explains that an angel came to her and said she would conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. I desperately try to hide the whirlwind of emotions I feel as she tells me this: the fear, the doubt, and the teeny tiny bit of illogical hope that it’s true. Mary knows she sounds crazy, she knows it’s hard to believe, and yet I sense a quiet confidence in her. She does not doubt what has happened inside of her and with wonder in her eyes, she repeats the angel’s words, “nothing will be impossible with God.”
“How God?” I think to myself. “How could this happen and why would you do something that’s so hard to believe?”
Several months had passed and though I hadn’t heard from Mary, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of her. I constantly wondered what she might be feeling. What would it be like to carry a baby who she believed was the Lord? What goes through her mind as she feels Him kick? Would she be full of more anxiety than usual knowing the Son Of God is in her womb or would she be completely at peace, knowing that God’s plans do not fail? I couldn’t stop playing through every possible scenario in my mind. Like I often do, I dreamt about the birth. If this truly was the Lord, surely the labor would be wonderful and smooth and the delivery would be perfect. A King should have the most glorious entrance into the world after all. I hoped so badly that I could be there.
I was shocked when she came to me that day, her belly fully round.
“Joseph and I are headed to Bethlehem for the census,” she told me.
I couldn’t believe she was willing to make the journey at this point in her pregnancy but I knew she didn’t really have a choice. When she asked me to go with her I very nearly fainted. She knew her time to deliver was coming. Of course, I packed a bag and was ready within minutes. I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity for anything.
I did what I could to make the trip easier for Mary but at this point in her pregnancy, there wasn’t a lot of hope for comfort. While traveling, Joseph told me the story of an angel visiting him as well and confirming that what Mary said was true. I still wasn’t sure what I really thought about the situation and yet I wanted more than anything to believe them. The hope, the peace, and the confidence they had was so beautiful and I longed to feel that way too.
When we arrived in Bethlehem there were swarms of people everywhere. There were no rooms available anywhere and I knew Mary needed to rest. Finally, we found a measly stable to stay in and settled in for the night.
Of course, as fate would have it, Mary’s contractions began. In a burst of nervous energy, Joseph quickly left to seek out a local Hebrew midwife. I could tell that despite the increasing pain, Mary was excited about what was to come. All that the angel told her would soon be accomplished.
Joseph returned with the midwife and then he waited outside because we knew the time was near. I cleaned up the place as best as I could but this was nothing like the glorious entrance I was planning in my mind.
Why would God allow His Son to be born into such humble conditions? It didn’t make any sense to me and yet there were no other options at the time.
Mary’s pains began to get harder. She went from breathing deeply through them, to moaning, to full out roaring as she got closer to delivery. Labor was as tough as any other birth I had been to. It certainly wasn’t the smooth, easy delivery I had pictured.
I supported her as she leaned and swayed and then finally, we reached that moment of relief and excitement as she naturally began to push. A bit later, those little pushes turned into strenuous burst of power. With all her might she fought to birth this little baby, the one she believed to be the Son of God. As her strength increased so did her fear, those all familiar moments of panic, the worry that she might not be able to accomplish her mission. She said it felt impossible, but had no choice except to press on, pushing harder and harder, stronger and stronger.
With the next contraction, she didn’t know what else to do but yell in anguish,
“COME JESUS IMMANUEL!”
She called Him by His name, as many mothers do at this stage. And with that, He was born.
It was the Holiest moment, the Earth was quiet in reverence and we all knew that phrase she yelled would be uttered countless times by millions of people throughout the rest of humanity. Men and women everywhere would find themselves in low and humble places, dealing with the pain and agony of this world and their solution will be nothing less than calling on the Savior Jesus Christ. Asking Him, begging Him to come and live with them. To completely change their life like He changed Mary’s that day. It was a chilling, profound moment, and it was then that I believed. God has sent his Son to deliver us all.
After Mary nursed her new sweet babe, she swaddled Him, and placed Him in a manger because that’s all we had. I always sleep well the night after a birth but on that night, because of what I had witnessed, my Soul could finally rest in a way it never has before. The Son of God has come to Earth the way all humans do. But because of Him, the way we live and leave this Earth will be forever changed.