Advent PT. 4 – Vulnerable

The day Royal Mae Providence was born was bonkerz.

June 7, 2014.

We chose the midwifery route for our 2nd delivery after a less-than-positive 1st delivery. We loved the whole process, and the care we received from start to finish. We also hired a doula (the best Doula named Becky) because Steph was mad that I feel asleep during Anthym’s delivery…. but to be fair, with Anthym we went in a 3AM, then they put us in a dark bath tub room and I had no where to sit so laying on the ground seemed like the best option at the time. The other 2 times I fell asleep I have no excuse for.

With Royal, we knew we were going to be held up at the hospital for some time after her birth due to her cleft lip and palate. So we decided to wait as long as we felt comfortable with before we went it. When active labour started Becky came over and started supporting Steph and helping us (I asked her to knock instead of use the doorbell as to not wake me). A couple hours went by and Steph’s contractions were getting closer and closer together, after about 17 times of me asking to go to the hospital, we decided to go for a walk around the block. We got Steph’s shoes on, walked down the driveway and Steph declares that she feels like she needs to push.

In Penhold, in our driveway, 20 minutes from the hospital.

Becky quickly realizes that Stephanie is a lot further along than she seemed. I guess Steph has this weird superhero high pain tolerance where she puts up with excruciating pain with a smile on. So we all load up in our green 2007 Nissan Sentra. Steph in the front seat on her knees, Becky in the back seat. Steven in the driver seat.

I drove fast, safely, but fast. This is probably literally the only scenario that if you get pulled over, you get a police escort to the hospital. I was passing cars on Highway 2a, at one point Stephanie asked me to turn down the classic rock but I asked her if I could just have this moment. She obliged.

As we entered Red Deer and passed the entrance to our church, it just so happened that a wedding for one of our friends let out at the exact same time that we were driving past, with Stephanie half mooning everyone out the passenger window. Our apologies to all our fellow congregants we drove past that day.

We arrived at the hospital, parked in the underground lot, then did a series of walk, walk, stop and contract, walk, walk, stop, and contract until we could get to the closest elevator.

My driving skills fuelled by the Van Halen soundtrack had transported us to the hospital before the midwives had even arrived.

19 minutes later we took this picture.

Stephanie holding baby royal mae, minutes after she was born.

The days after, all the hormones and emotions wear off and you become acutely aware that the baby is….a baby. Babies can’t do anything.

Can’t talk.
Can’t read.
Can’t keep their eyes open.
Can’t make sandwiches.
Can’t even hold their head up.

They are 100% dependant on their parents.

Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the happiest baby on the block, calls the first 3 months the “4th trimester”.

Dr. Karp explains that babies are born too soon! Yes, you read that right. If given the choice, babies would definitely have voted for a few extra months inside the womb. So, the first three months post-birth –the Fourth Trimester – you should think of babies as fetuses outside the womb. (1)

Basically stating, for the beginning of life, infants are just as dependent on their moms in the first 12 weeks as they were for the previous 40.

This is where we stop talking birth stories and babies…. kind of.

Imagine for 30 seconds, you are time-machined back to your own infancy.

No… you have to actually stop and imagine. Don’t read. Just imagine. Close your eyes. Imagine. 30 seconds. No peeking.

Can’t talk.
Can’t read. (this blog)
Can’t keep your eyes open.
Can’t make sandwiches.
Can’t even hold your head up.

As a finite person that knows a percentage of a fraction of all the information from all time, that would be rough.

Now imagine an omniscient, omnipotent, all-powerful, God being reduced to a helpless, 4th trimester, Mary-dependant, vulnerable infant.

Frederick Buechner put it like this in his book, Whistling in the Dark:

Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one. But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed—as a matter of cold, hard fact —all its cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading. The Word became flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush onehanded. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God… who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.” Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.

Let’s for a minute pause and remember the intentional vulnerability our saviour took on.

We spend so much time and emotional effort attempting to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.

Don’t look weak…
“Don’t let them see your idiosyncrasies…”
“Don’t reveal too much”

“Don’t seem needy…”
“Don’t be a bother…”
“You can figure it out on your own”

…are all things we tell ourselves, and are also simultaneously the opposite of what God (who knows everything) decides to do.

We are not better, smarter, wiser, braver, tougher than God.

So, this season. Let’s be more Christlike and approach our lives with the same kind of vulnerability. It might just work.

Merry Christmas everyone, you got less than a week to get your stuff together.

Also, here is a photo of Royal Mae now, taken by the incomparable Montana Dennis.

Girl jumping in a californian park

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