Birth Story: And All This While I Thought I Was in Charge

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We have another son! Our third baby, a complete miracle, a wonder, a gift.

Everyone, even people who aren’t overtly religious, recognize that one time in their lives when they truly felt the presence of God was at the birth of a child.

I always like to record my experiences after a birth because it is one of those rare moments where you take leaps and bounds toward your divine destiny.  Of course being a parent adds volumes to your eternal identity and purpose, but also just the birthing process draws you out of yourself, your barriers, your pride, and gives you a glimpse of your true relationship to God.

Namely, that He holds all of life in His hands and while you have many liberties given to you, ultimately, you are His.  You came from Him, you will return to Him, and when it matters most, He is the only one who can help you.

I am reminded of a scripture from the Pearl of Great Price which echoes my feelings, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” (Moses 1:10)

And concurrently, I remember these wise words, “This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast.” (The whole address by Dieter Uchtdorf is amazing, you should read it.)

Every new mother knows that there is something more to her child than just their physical creation, majestic and awe-inspiring though it is.  There comes with every baby a sense of that more-ness, which Uchtdorf calls “the spark of eternal fire”.  I feel it also as a grave importance, a discernment that this child is not mine, but Gods; not mortal, but an immortal spirit in an earthly frame.  Not solely an infant, but a fully-formed soul to whom I am beholden to protect, nurture and prepare for a unique purpose under heaven.

Don’t worry. That’s not staggeringly overwhelming at all…(picture me sinking out of my chair, landing in a puddle of ineptness on the floor)

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often hear new parents in testimony meeting.  One common phrase that’s said is that their newborn “brings a sweet spirit into their home”.  I’m going to be completely honest and say that I have, at times, found that statement annoyingly trite.  “Oh, come on,” I call their bluff internally, “You’re not sleeping a wink, the baby can’t even smile yet, let alone interact.  Having a newborn is just plain hard!”

Which is true.  Having a newborn is hard. (Did I mention that I’m nursing WHILE I write this?  BTW thank you for picturing that, it’s as awkward as it sounds. I nurse 40 hours a week right now and feeding the baby is just one aspect of the job. It’s a big undertaking.)

However, with this baby perhaps even more than the previous two, I have been reminded why this experience is so transcendent that it’s hard to find words (and we tend to grasp at the familiar ones, even sensing that they can’t do justice).

So, I’ll also add my imperfect attempt to describe a glowing, knowing mother heart and the thoughts that trail from clouds of glory along with the birth of a child:

I know that God stands at the helm of this life.  He loves us.  He sends us here to earth, and while that seems like a cruel fate at times, He is so much closer than we can understand.  He is eternally and endlessly interested in our well-being.  When the dust, drudgery and distress of this life have passed away, we will be shocked to realize that while life felt so real, it was more like a dream (albeit sometimes a nightmare) and the reality is that God had a plan and a place for us all along.

Why is it that it’s so much easier to see these truths on behalf of our children than for ourselves?

Perhaps that is why God has given us parenthood and family.  Little children help their parents fathom the mysteries of life.

Humph. Imagine that.  And all this while I thought I was in charge.

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  1. I love this Johanna! Everything I wish I could say but can’t! And I love seeing your kids holding West! So sweet!

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