In some ancient culture, I once read, soon-to-be fathers lie down beside their spouses and howl as their wives give birth, thereby taking upon themselves some mysterious dose of their lover's travail. I don't know that's true. It's just what I read.
I did no moaning myself. At the birth of our two children, to call myself involved would be a stretch--well, a lie. Even though we'd done all the Lamaze exercises--pillows and breathing and timing and soothsaying--when the moment finally came and I stood there beside her, even though I think I held her hand in mine, I didn't feel at all like a participant in the process, more like a criminal.
An old friend--female--once told me that if men would really like to know what childbirth is like, it's not all that difficult: just take your upper lip, she said, and pull it back over your forehead. That's all I need to know.
Some warm and wonderful couples, I know, manage to share the pain and joy, the pangs of childbirth, and do so triumphantly, dutiful hubby recording every last glorious moment on flip video ultra series camcorders. Some beloved husbands are teammates, guides, honey-throated sweet-talkers; but when my wife had our two children, any perception of the two of us being one flesh was just so much hooey. I was useless, like some say, as teats on a bull.
Tomorrow, God willing, I'll be a grandfather again. It's a boy, and we pray he's got all his fingers and toes. I won't be sitting on pins and needles as I was that day in Phoenix when my daughter was born, nor will I be as anxious as I was when my daughter's first--our first grandchild--made her worrisome debut in Bellingham, Washington. But right now I'm still, well, expectant, I guess I might say--expectant and worried, a little.
So this morning's thanks is for my daughter, whose last few weeks haven't been any more sweet than those unending early nauseous weeks were. She's about to do something half the world knows absolutely nothing of, something profoundly primary and vastly beyond my imagination, something that literally will change our lives forever--she'll have a baby. They will--she and her husband. Because he'll be there too, probably just as much a spectator as I ever was--and just as humbled.
This morning, I'm thankful for our daughter. And worried. And anxious. And expectant.
What a great word--we're all prayerfully expectant.