Today’s birth story and thoughts on birth come from Elaine Cannon, the former General President of the Young Women for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe she she wrote this in the 80’s.
When I had my first baby about thirty years ago, I was treated with great respect and infinite tenderness. My husband was anxious. Nurses hovered over me by the minute. My mother, who had conducted the affairs of my own arrival in her bed at home, stood by with the kind of maternal anxiety I had witnessed in her on only one occasion. That was when I was to perform at my first piano recital before some of her friends.
I stayed in the hospital bed for ten days, scarcely lifting my arm other than to hold the new baby at feeding time. Then I moved home to mother’s for further pampering. I wasn’t an invalid. I was just treated like one. That’s how they did things then.
We had babies nearly every year after that, whether we needed them or not. Gradually methods changed. Twelve years or so after the first baby, our last child was born. By then, having a baby was a rather simple arrangement. I was home cooking waffles for our little destroying angels almost before I could cry out for joy.
You know, there is a tender scripture in John 16:21 that reads, “ She rememberteh no mare the anguish, for joy that a [babe] is born into the world.
Travail. Change. Joy.
Is there any joy in change?
We are pregnant and then skinny. We are young then we get old. We are born and we die. We are relaxed, then the bishop comes to call. We are single and then somebody’s wife (or vise versa!). Crickets sing, then suddenly it is Christmas.
Sometimes change comes swiftly, startling. Sometimes its pace is so gradual as to be almost unapparent. Sometimes it is announced (ready or not you shall be caught!) Sometimes change is subtle, secret, until it is too late. Often it is painful, traumatic. And sometimes it is the best thing ever to occur.
Having a baby, holding a newborn, looking into the face of heaven is to recognize the partnership of God and change. “… weeping may endure for a night,” said the scribe, “but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
How can we be sure?
There are two important days in a woman’s life—the day she is born and the day she finds out why.
All of us have successfully accomplished the first. Now, if we can just grow in understanding of the second. That second day—the day we find out why we’re born—may lengthen to a lifetime as we grow in the gospel and in understanding of the plan of life with its governing principles, until at least we see that life is change, life is learning.
There is believing. And there is knowing. There is the mighty change that must occur in the heart of each of us before we can see God, see his face, and know that he is (See D&C 93:1).
And then there is joy.
When we succeed in finding out why we were born, we should understand at last that we are here to be tested. Change in all its many facets, is implicit in the test.
Change is the big challenge.
Change is pain.
… We can bear the babies and know that ever- wondrous joy. We can nurture the child and lovingly serve the needful, and in the process we can experience in part what the Savior did when he told the Nephites, “And now behold, my joy is full.” (3 Nephi 17:20)