The Miracle of Birth
The most spiritual experience I had this semester was the day I was able to see my first birth while completing OB and Pediatric nursing clinical rotations at the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital .
That whole morning, I sat in front of a computer screen monitoring an unborn baby’s heart rate. Every 15 minutes I would have to chart how he was doing – what his baseline heart rate was, if there were any abnormal decelerations, etc.
The time finally came for baby to be born. I was so excited. I had gotten to know baby’s family that morning. There were quite a few family members there who would be present during the birth and they were all so anxious and excited. Rather than just watching the birth, I stood at mom’s side, with my arm on her shoulder, helping her breathe and monitoring baby’s heart rate. It was intense, despite the fact that she had an epidural.
As I watched her concentrated face as she struggled to bear down and saw her exhaustion and relief each time she was allowed to rest, my heart went out to her. And then, after minutes of contractions that involved pushing and resting, the baby finally entered the world. His first cry was emotional and precious. The second the mother heard it, she broke down crying. In turn I was suddenly overcome with so much emotion that I surprised myself when I started crying as well. I quickly reminded myself that I needed to be more professional and hold back the tears that kept wanting to come out. The grandmother later came over and, with a smile on her face, told me she had seen the tears. So much for trying to be professional. But she seemed to think it was cute.
As I have pondered on my experience with birth this Christmas season, my thoughts have naturally turned to the experience of Mary, who gave birth to the Savior of the world in a grotto filled with animals. After taking OB and seeing an actual birth, I have come to understand how miraculous the delivery of a baby really is. There are so many things that can go wrong, especially in a natural birth. Without pain medications to ease the experience, I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Mary that special night.
I can, on the other hand, imagine how hard the Adversary was working to prevent this birth from happening. Yet Mary was faithful and willing to keep the commandments of God. Her response to the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Son of God was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). How similar these words are to the words Mary’s son would later speak as He was about to do the most difficult thing He had ever done on earth: “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
So when the time came for Mary to deliver her baby, her faith allowed her to follow the Lord’s command, despite the obstacles that were placed in her way. This handmaiden of the Lord was able to discover God’s will, develop faith in God’s will, submit to God’s will, and praise God for allowing her be a part of His will (Luke 1:46-55). And I can imagine that Mary’s unexpected sacrifice to give birth in an animal-filled cave and the suffering she went through during her birth experience must have been so worth it for her.
Have you ever held a newborn baby? And watched it look up at you, somewhat confused as its eyes accustom to the bright lights? Have you seen the purity that seems to naturally radiate from its countenance? And the innocence that can be so easily found in its beautiful newborn eyes? After this semester, I can finally say that I have. As I cared for the newborn baby boy I had watched enter the world that special day, I could not help but think about where he had come from and what he had been called to do here on earth. I could not help but conclude that he was truly a child of God who had divine potential. And I could not help but confirm to myself that the Plan of Salvation was true thanks to the birth and lifelong ministry of the Only Begotten Son of God. And with the apostles, this Christmas season, I too would like to rejoice and declare, “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”
Ashley Dyer is a fourth semester BYU nursing student. She was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew up in Shanghai, China.