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Christmas and Obstetrics--Gift-Wrapping Is Included

Nearly 2000 years ago a miracle happened that is celebrated today as Christmas. Regardless of any religious implications or historical ramifications, the fact that it was a human birth at all is miracle enough. As an OB-GYN, it's hard for me to get past the purely obstetrical scenario of that day so long ago. Today, when perfect babies are expected, we don't think of the odds against a newborn in the ancient Middle East before anesthesia, antibiotics, or blood banks. Women dying in childbirth was an accepted, even acceptable, risk of pregnancy back then. A man chose a wife who he thought might bear many children so that the odds of at least one or two making it would improve. The woman, as was expected, put her and her baby's life on the line.

The Bible tells of the solitary gamble God took in that single pregnancy. God, who certainly could have chosen Christ to descend gloriously upon the Earth flanked by phalanxes of majestic and omnipotent attendants--to immediately establish a new order for all mankind--chose instead the uncertainty of biology in a single throw of the dice. In other words, God followed His own rules. He was willing to take whatever came out of it. Think about that.

Now I know this is just an obstetrician trying to make sense out of something that everyone else takes for granted. But I can't help thinking what an awful chance this was. What if there had been complications? If God played by His own rules, I would expect his will to be intertwined with even a less than perfect result. Which is of course to his credit.

In this modern age we often take for granted a perfect baby. Unfortunately, some parents begin chipping away at that perfection as soon as the infant comes home. Raising a baby is difficult, time-consuming, and unselfish. There are a lot of mistakes. God took a chance there, too. Parenting doesn't always succeed in turning a perfect baby into a wonderful adult. And he entrusted the raising of Christ to two people who were a product of their age. Pretty scary. He had faith in us before asking us for faith in Him.

Modern obstetrics has a vast advantage in seeking a perfect outcome to each pregnancy, dwarfing the medical care of 2000 years ago. But it is still no guarantee. There are those among us who will see the disappointment of a less than perfect baby. When this happens, I can't help admiring the parents who make the absolute best of what they get. And I can't help feeling that God Himself demonstrated that same pride in us by choosing the very same circumstances under which Christ was to be born. He took a big chance on us, on biology, on parenting--all before anyone could even begin worrying about converting a world to the golden rule. Every 

Christmas, as well as on the very first Christmas, the best presents come gift-wrapped in mothers.

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