And so my niece Angela and her husband Joey had their first child and named her Aria! It wasn’t an easy birth. Angela endured about 28 hours of labor, and found out why they call it labor, as in hard work. There’s a lot of pain and effort and sheer will involved in expelling a medium sized watermelon through an opening the size of a walnut.
I had a candid chat with Angela a few days before her due date because I wanted her to be prepared. Since she’s a perfectionist type, mostly I wanted to warn her that in the altered state that is baby-having things can get a little messy and extremely imperfect. That although throughout her life, her considerable brain power has always had the upper hand, in childbirth the physical imperatives of her body would overpower her brain like a killer whale swallowing up a penguin. In other words, unexpected events may cancel out her “birth plan,” so stay flexible.
When I had my daughter, Lamaze and the Bradley Method were all the rage, and we had husbands, not “birthing partners.” Both these childbirth gurus taught that by focusing on something distracting, breathing deeply, and then later doing shallow fast panting, “discomfort” would be minimized. Euphemisms like discomfort were rampant; perhaps for the first time in history, labor pains were instead called “contractions.” In the throes of “contractions” in mile-high Denver, my shallow fast panting caused me to hyperventilate, and suddenly I was on the ceiling looking down at this woman on the bed.
Too late I realized it’s a mistake to take birthing advice from someone who is physically incapable of giving birth – that is, a man named Lamaze or Bradley. And specifically a man who actually believes you can go to your happy place when there’s a freight train barreling through your body. Happily my husband had followed Lamaze instructions and brought along a paper bag for me to breathe into, landing me back on the bed. And I had thought it was in case I threw up.
I felt it my duty to clue Angela that Lamaze was a crock, unaware that she and Joey had signed up for a current version, called “HypnoBirthing, “a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques…as new as tomorrow and as old as ancient times.” Or as old as Lamaze. BUT – good news, it turns out it worked for Angela, whatever it is. Or semi- worked. And she was able to follow her birth plan: birthing center not hospital, no drugs, no stainless steel slab, and no thanks when they asked if she and Joey wanted to eat the placenta. Nevertheless, my Mom steadfastly recommends her own birthing experience: “When I had you kids, they just knocked you out and when you woke up they brought you your baby. And they let you stay in the hospital for a week! ”
Angela is forever changed by giving birth, as are we all. She calls it a “transformative” experience that blew her away. Indeed, having a baby baptizes a woman into a different realm of life, a sorority that includes all moms everywhere. If there weren’t so many of us, it might be a secret society. I wonder if this is why so many more women than men are religious, according to surveys.
Physically, the process of giving birth is a marvel of complicated bio-mechanical events that occur in precisely calibrated stages to move that medium-sized watermelon down the inner tunnel toward the light. It all happens in a step-by-step synchronicity like dominos falling in sequence, each hormone or enzyme triggering the next stage. It’s clear that this human reproductive computer program had to be in place from the very beginning, or it wouldn’t result in a living baby.
And so it challenges Darwinian theory that requires random mutation and natural selection; essentially, trial and error through eons of time. As Darwin himself said in Origin of Species,
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not
possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory
would absolutely break down.”
The same is true of a system like childbirth, composed of interacting parts, “wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning, “as bio-chemist Michael Behe explains in his remarkable book, Darwin’s Black Box.
And this is how God says hi: “look at the intricate way this works – look at how obvious I have made my plan – do you get it now?” Again, Behe, “Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on.”
Or as God says in his biography:
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb,
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139 13-16
All blessings of our great and amazing God to you, Angela and Joey and little Aria.