This day is a day of distress…; children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.
(Isaiah 37: 3b NRSV)
Recently, I was reminded of my first pregnancy.
My doctor informed me that my due date would be on or about March 4. Our best friends at the time had also been married for several years, and had no children. When we told them our happy news, including the projected due date, our friend Paul chuckled and said, “March fourth! Hmmm. That sounds strong and determined! Almost like an order: ‘March forth!’”
Later we discovered that Paul and his wife were expecting about the same time, and so were my husband’s business partner and his wife. It was a veritable population explosion, there in our little West Virginia town.
When I went into labor at about 5 in the morning on the fourth of March, I thought, “Wow, my doctor was right on! He hit the due date exactly!” We drove through the early morning darkness to the hospital and decided on her name as we headed up the hill to the parking lot. She would be Sarah Jordan.
Jordan, however, did not feel bound by my doctor’s prediction of a due date. She had other ideas. To be blunt, she dilly-dallied.
I freely admit that I was a rookie at this labor business, and wasn’t sure how to go about it. Labor went on for some 21 hours before Jordan made her debut in this world. By that time it was no longer the fourth of March, but the fifth, and I was exhausted, but happy.
Jordan, on the other hand, was outraged that she had been pushed out of her warm, secure dark place, floating inside my tummy, and into a bright, cold world where gravity began its pull on her.
By that time, my husband’s business partner and his wife were just down the hall, also in the throes of labor. Their Amy also took her own sweet time, and was born on the sixth of March.
My Jordan has been a “march forth” kind of a gal ever since that day. As a toddler, her declaration of independence was an emphatic “Baby do it!” (meaning “Let me do this by myself!”). She has grown into an accomplished, capable woman who knows her own abilities. She has dreams and plans and goals, and the strength, stamina and determination to make them happen.
I ponder sometimes the way in which a day – any day – can suddenly take on importance, meaning, celebration, or sadness. I notice days – the birthdays (or deaths) of high school friends and teachers, of colleagues and composers, of presidents or princes. I notice anniversaries of events big and small, days of infamy, saints’ days.
I also take note of the ways in which special occasions seem to cluster in my family. January was always chock-full of birthdays in my parents’ generation; nowadays, April is the month studded with stars on the calendar. I am grateful for the people whose days (and lives) I celebrate.
Today I am most especially grateful for my Jordan, who marched forth, and made March fifth a holiday in our family. And I gladly forgive her dilly-dallying on the day before her birth. Heaven knows she has not done so since!