On Higher Ground

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By Bill Horner

The thrill of anticipation of a newborn baby


Somehow we must have known this one was going to be a girl. We were agreed on a girl’s name but not a boy’s. Susanna. A combination of Susan, Anne, and Nancy, three girls who had had a significant impact on my wife Marcia.

It was 1982 and we were living in Ft. Worth, Texas, as I was attending our Baptist seminary there. We were living on a shoestring budget. Logic argued against having a baby at that time. But Scripture seemed to argue in favor:  “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).  Besides, we weren’t getting any younger. We had a son.  We wanted another child.

Marcia woke me up about 5 a.m. “I’m having more pains, Bill. I think this it!” I hastily called our friends, Mike and Phyllis, who would come over and take care of two-year-old Josh. It’s fun calling people so early in the morning, at least if you have a good excuse. They can feel your excitement, and they reflect it back.

In no time we were on our way to Harris Hospital. After three children I’ll confess I still don’t know what a mother thinks at such times. But I sure know what the Dad thinks, “Please don’t have this baby in the car! I wouldn’t know what to do!” I asked Marcia how she was feeling. Her answer put me at ease in one way, but disturbed me in another. “The pains have stopped. I think maybe this is a false alarm.”

I pulled on into the hospital anyway. Escorting Marcia into the cavernous lobby, I sat her down and we examined our situation. We could turn around and go back home and risk having the baby in the car but save ourselves the embarrassment of having trained medical personnel telling us to turn around and go back home. Or we could proceed to labor and delivery, and have the nurses check her over. Our indecisiveness brought us up to 7 a.m. and the shift change.

Harris Hospital had a policy for expectant mothers with Marcia’s dilemma: they could bypass admitting, go straight to the second floor, and if they were experiencing false labor, they could leave as if they had never been there. We finally went upstairs. I’m glad we did.

When Nurse Kate checked Marcia, she announced that Marcia was going nowhere but the birthing room. “This baby’s coming fast,” she informed us through her Irish accent.

The birthing room was a new option at hospitals in those days, and the mother and baby had to be near-perfect to use one. Harris’s had not seen a new baby in over a month. But it did that day. An hour and a half later, Dr. Jeffers delivered a healthy, eight-pound Susanna. Kate stayed over her shift to help out. As we carried Susanna down the hall to be weighed, Kate proudly told the other nurses, “This is our little birthing room baby!”  My feet didn’t touch the floor all day.

The birth of a baby is always an exciting event. So can you even fathom the anticipation of Mary and Joseph? God had told her that her baby, conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit, would be called the Son of the Highest and would reign over Israel forever.  The angel informed Joseph that the child would be Immanuel, God with us, who would save His people from their sins. 

Where were they when Mary began to feel the labor pains? Was there a midwife in attendance? Did Joseph feel as proud holding this baby as I did that day holding Susanna? Undoubtedly, but did he realize just Who he was holding—God in the flesh?

“For unto us a Child is born.  Unto us a Son is given.  And the government shall be upon His shoulders.  And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).