Every Christmas, I post a little Christmasy birth information.
This Christmas, let me give you a little link fun and a little Biblical narrative.
First off, the First, More Accurate Than Most, Noel! This is a funny skit based on how Mary and Joseph probably interacted on their journey to census. It isn't meant to be literal, or philosophical in the least - simply entertaining. :)
Second, Whole Mother did an awesome radio segment, in honor of the "most famous unassisted birth" ever, on unassisted birth, the birth story of one of our other local doulas. Enjoy listening here.
Third, something we don't often consider. While Mary was waiting for her baby, she went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth, who was 6 months pregnant, for "about 3 months". Many theologians believe that Mary went to Elizabeth's stayed for 3 months, then left right before the birth.
I believe that Mary stayed with Elizabeth throughout labor and birth, but then left before Elizabeth's lying-in time was done.
Why do I think this way? The timeline.
Verse 24 says that Elizabeth went into seclusion for 5 months. Then verse 26 begins "in the 6th month" (coming after hearing about 5 months of seclusion, we know that this is the the 6th month of Elizabeth's pregnancy) Gabriel makes his announcement to Mary.
Right after that conversation (between the Angel and Mary - verse 39) it says "At that time" Mary went to see Elizabeth.
We then have the conversation between Mary and Elizabeth, Mary's beautiful song, and verse 56, which says Mary stayed "about" 3 months.
Verse 57 sounds like after Mary left Elizabeth gave birth, but we have to remember that Biblical authors don't always write in a linear fashion.
In the case of 1:56, it simply wraps up Mary's involvement with the narrative about the coming of John the Baptist. And in 1:57, the narrative is bringing Elizabeth back center stage by introducing the fact that Elizabeth had her baby.
Is it possible that Mary left prior to the birth of John? Absolutely. But I AM convinced that nothing in 1:57 necessarily or even probably implies Mary's absence. In fact, as was practice in that day and time, Mary would have stayed to help Elizabeth give birth, as was the custom of women supporting other women.
Additionally, it would benefit/behoove Mary to stay and help. She would see birth, learn, and know what labor and birth looked, felt, and acted like so that she was prepared for her own birthing time.
So.. would that mean that, not only did Mary have a beautiful birth in less than optimal settings... but she was also likely to be an early doula? I knew I loved that woman!