I’ve never posted this picture or shown it to many people. I was embarrassed of how I look in it. And to be honest, looking at it brought twinges of disappointment and jealousy. I saw other pictures of beautiful mamas holding their tiny treasures for the first time. They wear looks of pure love and relief as they hold their babies to their chests.
I had what seemed like such a brief moment before they pulled him away from me. They took him across the room and those few feet felt like miles. I couldn’t see him at all but heard his cries for warmth. I chose an unmedicated birth and don’t regret it for a minute. But when it was “over” it wasn’t over. The pain was still very raw and very real and my husband and baby weren’t by my side or in my arms. It was just me, my doula, and Jesus while the doctor finished up.
This is the only picture I have of the first time I held my sweet, sweet baby. By the time they poked and wiped and weighed him, they returned him wrapped up tight looking like a little glow worm…. Those pictures are precious to me although you can only see his tiny little face.
I’ve been thinking about that picture today. Who knows why. My face does not appear as one who feels relief but rather pain, but if you look closer, in the midst of the pain, there is a mother newly born along with her baby. And as the pain rages she clings with all her love to the one who was worth it all. He is hers. And I remember the beautiful moment when I had reached my limit. When I was overwhelmed and starting to panic. I simply could not take one second more, and my doula said “Look down, America!” And there he was! “My baby!!!” And he was purple and all curled up and screaming as they lifted him over me but the very second he was placed on my chest, he fell silent and was contented. He was home. I was home. I was hurting, he was adjusting. But I clung to him and he melted into me. That is beautiful.
And isn’t that life? It’s not all picture perfect. But we cling to each other and the faith and the love that we share. The pain and the cold and the shock of change… It all softens in love’s warm embrace.
Even more, when I look at the picture, I think of the sacrificial love Christ gave on the cross. Not that giving birth is equal to his torment, but it’s the closest I ever expect to come. And in the way that his suffering gave way to our new life, a mother’s suffering gives new life to her child. I believe it was his great love that held Him there. His love for us. His obedience to the Father. And he is there ready to embrace us, to give us refuge from our ever changing world. And as we melt into him, as Oliver melted into me, we are home and we are contented there.