One last groan, one last push and a thin wailing cry broke the silence. The young mother slumped back, exhausted yet curiously elated.
The midwife cut the cord and held the baby up by his ankles. He was red and wrinkly, smeared with his mother’s blood and yelling furiously now.
“It’s a boy’, she said unnecessarily.
The old woman lay the baby down again and began wrapping him swiftly against the cold night air. The girl watched languidly, getting her breath back.
After laying the baby to one side, the old woman tended the girl; delivering the afterbirth and making the new mother more comfortable. She settled the baby at his mother’s breast and showed her how to hold the child, how to support his head, how to guide him to the nipple.
Once they had convinced the child to suck she went to the door.
“You can come in now.”
A young man came in. He looked at his wife lying on the rough cot and at the baby at her breast.
“Isn’t he beautiful”, she whispered.
Her husband looked down and every last reservation he had had about this pregnancy and this marriage vanished. The shame he had felt, the hesitation and uncertainty; all were gone.
He knelt down beside the bed and smoothed the tip of one finger over the baby’s cheek.
“You were right.” he said. “We are blessed: both of us.”
He stayed there, kneeling for a long time, watching the baby as he slept. He took his wife’s hand and they quietly rejoiced over the miracle of birth and the precious new life they had been given.
Then the young man gently took the child from his wife’s arms. He cradled the sleeping infant gently and with his free hand he unwound the cloth from the baby’s feet.
He stood for a long time, unmoving, his heart full of wonder and he remembered what his wife had said some months earlier. He lifted up his soul to God, his creator and his heart echoed the same refrain. “My heart magnifies the Lord”, his mind sang, “And my spirit rejoices in God.”
Then he looked down at the child in his arms, gently bent his head and kissed his saviour’s tiny feet.