Mary and Elizabeth interpreted the event as a miraculous acknowledgement of the Messiah.
Having something alive and kicking inside your body must be an extremely weird experience which, I dare say, most men have never had the slightest desire to share. Women, or at least some women, think their unborn child doing trampoline exercises is not weird but wonderful. When my wife was pregnant she was always waddling up to request that I “feel the baby” leaping around.
In expecting our third child I was quite relaxed because by then I had taught Margaret all I knew about how to give birth. When we got to the hospital, the physician asked me if I wanted to come into the delivery room. I told him, “Nothing doing” because I had a book I wanted to read. Besides, I had successfully completed my part of this process some months before. However, he insisted that since I was present at the conception I should also be present at the delivery. As a result I put on a white coat, a bandit’s mask, and informed the doctor that at the first opportunity I planned to faint dead away. He said I was not allowed to faint because some student nurses were attending who had never observed the father in the delivery room. I gave permission for them to look all they wanted, but to avoid stepping on me since I would be stretched out on the floor.
In the delivery room I understood why the doctor had insisted on my presence. I was given the most important part of the entire medical procedure. My task was to keep a cold, wet cloth on the mother’s brow. This was not easy to do since Margaret and the doctor were animatedly discussing a movie they had both seen. After a few minutes, and while I was concentrating mightily on my difficult assignment, the doctor said in a firm voice, “Push, Mother.” I leave it to you to judge the likelihood that I so far forgot myself as to abandon my task, jump up, wave my arm, and shout “Push, Mother!” Margaret says it is very hard to push and laugh at the same time.
As soon as our son was born, my wife pointed out that in Africa where she was born the umbilical cord was bitten in two. Her physician demurred. I think he had bad teeth. Nevertheless, it was abundantly clear that Jonathan was my true son since his very first act in this world was to urinate on the doctor, incidentally decreasing his birth weight by about two pounds. Since I knew the amount of the bill I would shortly receive from that physician, I had the strongest urge to perform the same action myself.
At this point the doctor helped Margaret off the delivery table, put my baby on his wet arm, and took Margaret with his dry arm. I grabbed her other arm and with six student nurses trailing along we walked down the corridor to her room.
Now here is the most amazing part of my nativity story. Somewhere behind us in that hospital was the entire University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band in parade performance. I walked very proud and straight. The second miracle is that I seemed to be the only one in our group who could hear the drum rolls celebrating my outstanding accomplishment.
There are those who say the hen delivers and the rooster crows, but being a father is clearly a job for a real man. It is always nice to have mothers nearby when the baby is born, but I am sure Zechariah and Joseph had great stories to tell and it is a crying shame that nobody bothered to record them.