I have four children. I remember the day each one was born…mostly. The one that is always the clearest in my memory is my first born. You’d think it would be the most recent birth…(the youngest)…but that’s not true…it’s the first. It’s kind of like how I remember having my very first cup of coffee…I hated it…and now I can’t even remember how many cups of coffee I have had today.
Hannah, my oldest daughter, was born on the coldest day of the year…it was a cold day in late January…pushing 40 degrees below zero. My wife, Sarah, was about a week overdue…all three of our girls were overdue. I have learned a few things about interacting with a spouse who is pregnant and overdue. Such as..."Don’t ________". You could fill in the blank with anything you like…it’ll be accurate. For instance, don’t eat all of the chocolate ice cream…that’s for her. Don’t paint the walls…it smells bad. Don’t let her see raw meat…it makes her sick.
Sarah always talked about loving being pregnant…up until the last 7-9 days…by that time she was just ready to be done. I can’t say that I blame her. Did you know that the average gestation period for a human is 280 days? That leaves only 85 days when you wouldn’t be pregnant. That’s barely enough time to return the shirt you were going to lose enough weight to fit into, but realize that was just a pipe dream.
We should just be glad that we are not elephants. The gestation period for an African Elephant can be between 660-760 days! That’s crazy! I couldn’t imagine what that would be like…living with a wife who is 100 days overdue! That’s a lot of time to “anticipate” a new baby.
I remember the months, days and even the hours leading up to Hannah’s birth. I remember hearing her heartbeat for the first time. I remember feeling her move, and I remember watching her doing somersaults and contort Sarah’s belly. Each visit to the doctor was a step closer. Each day was one day closer to the due date…and then each day later was another day…late. It could happen at any time. Finally, seven days after Hannah’s due date…the doctor told us…it’s time…to induce. What she meant to say was…“We will admit you to the hospital…hook you up to a bunch of tubes and wires and then you will have this baby in about two days from now.”
I remember the three hours of pushing…myself up out of the chair to encourage Sarah to keep breathing. It’s hard to encourage your spouse to breathe when her left hand is closing in around your throat.
The room was filled with screaming! I was saying push…breathe…you can do this! She was saying…“Don’t touch me! Just Stop! I CAN’T breathe.” Everyone in the room is attempting to talking this hyperventilating patient down from the ceiling…when a new sound entered the chaos of the room. The sound of a wounded, tiny, purple faced screech owl reached my ears and my life was totally changed.
I was filled with fear. I was filled with joy like I had never experienced before. I looked down and made eye contact with Hannah. I still remember that moment. I thought to myself…I don’t know what to do…I don’t even know how to hold her. I still don’t know what I am doing…and I still don’t know how to hold her.
However…I still know the joy I felt that day. The whole experience was a sequence of anticipation…drawing Sarah and I toward a joy that words cannot express. Each day brought us closer and closer to the moment of our anticipation.
In Luke chapter 2, we read the well known story of the birth of Jesus Christ. We read about how an angel appeared to the shepherds and they told them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” There is something there! God fulfilled ancient prophecies about a Savior that he had promised…that the people had anticipated...and it came in the form of a message of joy…that is for ALL the people.
It’s a message of joy for you…and for me.
What are you anticipating this Christmas?...Gifts? Family? Traditions? Trees?...Joy?