On the day before Christmas, the early hours of the morning found me curled up in a ball on the floor, exhausted, listening to one of my favorite Christmas songs and playing back the chorus on repeat in my mind as a way to focus through the pain.
I’d never particularly cared for that Christmas song before, but this year it was quite poignant. For the first time ever, I understood some of the emotions of the song, which is sung from the perspective of Mary on another Christmas Eve long ago.
Though I would give birth in a hospital (not a stable) and my child was mortal (not the long-awaited Messiah), there is still a feeling of immensity that attends the birth of a child and becoming a mother. As my body entered the early stages of labor, I found myself praying many of the words in that song: “Hold me together,” “Be with me now,” “Help me be strong.” I was entering something new and unknown. But I prayed with a certainty that I indeed was not alone—and with an assurance that with heavenly support, I would be able to accomplish the task ahead.
I had experienced painful contractions (and poor sleep) for three nights in a row. This morning, however, instead of subsiding with the dawn, my contractions increased and intensified, finally coming at regular intervals—the sign I had awaited to signal the advent of the promised birth. My husband and I drove to the hospital. Thanks to modern medicine, I was then able to have a respite from my labor pains and even took a much-needed nap.
The most tender part of labor for me was right before the baby came. The nurse had gone to call the doctor and set everything up. There was a lull with just me and my husband in the room. I felt very calm and we prayed together.
I could feel heaven surrounding us. Our baby girl was about to pass through the veil to this world. It seemed to us that angels on both sides of the veil came to attend that birth to support her and us through it. So my baby girl came into this world, surrounded by love.
I spent Christmas Day in the hospital learning how to nurse a newborn. And never have I been so grateful that Christ Himself came into this world as a babe. I had not expected nursing to be so hard. I cried tears of frustration as I felt like I was fighting with my baby, desperate to give her the nourishment she needed.
And helpful as it was to have a Savior who understood me, what I really needed was a Savior who understood her—because I did not. I do not remember what it is like to be a newborn. But Christ was “born of Mary … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:10, 12).
Succoring His people includes young and old. Through this experience, I came to know that He understood her, and He helped me understand her. Over time, and as I continued to pray for help with feeding, I discovered that the tears and frustration from both of us turned into bonding moments of peace and stillness—just what I needed with my baby.
In those first few weeks, I felt strongly that my baby came to earth with a close connection to heaven. She knew Christ. She loved Him. She trusted Him. She knew He loved her and felt His continued influence in her life across the veil of mortality.
She reminds me that Jesus Christ is the one who is holding me together through it all—carrying her, laboring with her, and now raising her. He is my Savior in the big moments of my life and the small moments. And I’m thankful for Him and His help every day.