It’s frustrating to be known not for what I do, but for what my wife does. In fact, I doubt most people know anything about my work. I'm just the husband of the midwife.
Midwife. There is a great job. The bringer of life. The deliver of hope. The healer of hearts. The revealer of the hidden. The announcer of new life. That's my Missus. Bethlehem's favorite woman.
Most afternoons she reveals the wonders of birth to young women and teaches the care and feeding of babies to those already swelling with life.
Many evenings there is a pounding on the doorposts of our house. “Come quickly,” some terrified father gasps. “The baby is coming!” And my midwife wife dashes off to be with a woman she knows well, a woman who is becoming a mother. Some for the first time. Some who are veteran birthers. All want the midwife to be with them and make it easier. Always, she’s helping women welcome new life.
Most babies arrive at night, I believe. Maybe that's because their lives were begun at night. I don't know, but it sure makes a mockery of the nightlife in our home. I’ve learned to love the mornings. That’s when the midwife pulls herself past our doorposts, slumps into a chair, and tells the tales of the night.
“Each baby is unique, each a special gift, a person in the making,” she says, “Each a tiny human who will bring joy and stress to its parents.”
Several times a week, if the baby is a boy, the parents quickly declare their baby to be the Messiah! Mother lifts her head from the pillow and says something like, “I knew it. God has blessed me with a man child in the village of Bethlehem. God's will is done and the King has arrived. This is the Messiah!”
Then the new mother slips back into reality.
We laugh about the flocks of Messiahs who arrive in Bethlehem's birthing rooms and wonder if God will be able to tell them apart. One thing for sure, during census time, there were more Messiahs than ever! All those folks traveling home from Tiberias, Jerusalem, Lebanon, and Greece. Who knows where they all came from! Many of the families stayed for a couple extra months so the midwife could deliver their baby in Bethlehem - hoping for a boy Messiah.
She came home this morning, nearly floating past the doorposts. Her smile as large as the early sunrise. Her face showed signs of a long night’s work. But her voice sounded like my mid-afternoon wide-awake Missus.
“It's Him,” she said.
“Who?” I asked. “Who Him?”
She quieted me and talked till noon about the young girl in the cave, the one with the starry eyes and the certain heart. Oh yes, I had already heard about the birth. There was nothing special about it, except that my wife had helped deliver a baby boy in the old cave up behind the inn. I’ll betcha the innkeeper charged them extra for the straw and the manger! No, the girl didn’t have a husband. Not yet. She was just betrothed. They were planning to marry after the birth.
“God is this boy's father!” my Missus whispered. “The Messiah has come.”
“How can you be sure?” I'm not about to let a good story get away.
“Three things,” she said. “First, the mother’s eyes. She was certain her baby would be a boy and that he was the Messiah! She told me a story about an angel beside her bed and a promise that gave her surety.”
“Second, the man’s talk about the angel who came to him and told him about the baby who would come, the angel who required that his name be called Jesus.”
“And third, the shepherds!”
“Shepherds?” I asked, “What do shepherds have to do with the Messiah?”
“They announced his birth,” she answered. “A whole crowd of shepherds came to the birth, shouting and dancing and talking about angels singing in the night.”
Our house was rather busy that morning, every mother in Bethlehem came by to hear the story.
I listened to the whole tale many times, always punctuated with my wife’s attempts to sound like an angel choir. She smiled brilliantly through the whole telling, the happiest I've ever seen my midwife wife. Messiah happy.