Wednesday April 16, 2014

What do you celebrate at Christmas?


Two and a half-weeks before her due date, our daughter made a panicked 4 a.m. call to our house. We’d expected that call, just not quite so early — and not quite so terrifying.

“Mom, I’m bleeding like mad. We’re leaving for the hospital NOW. We’ll leave the door open.”

What came next chilled me. ‘‘Mom… the baby’s not moving.”

I’m grateful that for such times, we have Jesus to cling to. Thankful that God provided presence of mind to realize that I hadn’t gone blind. That a) I hadn’t turned on the light and b) I hadn’t put on my glasses.

When I stopped revolving and reached our hall, another dilemma confronted me: Do boots go on head or feet? Coat, on arms or legs? That I made it one street over to care for our four sleeping grandbeans was a small miracle. The big one was that our daughter and grandchild survived what proved to be a partial placental abruption — a term I’d never even heard before that night. I’m grateful.

The word “abruption” means “the sudden breaking away of a portion from a mass.” Combined with the word “placental” it speaks of a circumstance that means terrifying risk at best and death at worst.

The human placenta is one of God’s most intricate, awe inspiring creations. Each pregnancy forms its own, a wondrous delivery vehicle for all things necessary for a baby’s survival. Tucked into the secrets of a mother’s womb, new life thrives because of the placenta.

They know a few risk factors, but doctors don’t completely understand why in some cases, and at any stage of pregnancy, that amazing cluster of tissue suddenly — heartbreakingly — tears from the sustaining lining of a mother’s uterus. They know placental abruption is not predictable. That if it happens completely, a baby has mere moments to live, and its mother’s life is in grave danger. Nine decades ago, on an isolated Saskatchewan homestead, my grandmother died in childbirth — likely for that reason.

The phone jangled a half hour after I arrived at my daughter’s home. Like a sunbeam through a dark crack, came her relieved voice. “Mom, the baby just moved.”  

A few hours later, Lois Nasya, “desirable miracle of God,” joined our family. Perfectly formed. Beautiful. Healthy — like her mother. And a fourth sister for the only he-bean in the patch. “Nana,” he told me, “Now I won’t have to share my room.”

There’s a lot about Christmas I don’t understand. But here’s what I celebrate: a God-designed celestial abruption. But that abruption delivered Life, not death. The Christ-child; torn from Heaven’s majesty, the home he shared with God. Not unexpectedly, but after centuries of prophecy. Delivered on a tide of human blood and human water designed by his Father to reveal Himself to us in the only way we could understand: as a human child. Jesus. God in skin. Universe-maker, born to set us free.

I always celebrate a Child at Christmas. This year, our family celebrates two.



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