The day I realised I was going to have a baby was just four weeks before the date that she was due.
Not that I was one of those women who don’t know they’re pregnant. I knew I was pregnant. It had been a miracle of my own, having had fertility treatment. I had had all the tests and the scans; had been to all the antenatal appointments, changed my diet; done the exercises. Even decorated the spare room.
And I had enjoyed being pregnant. Got used to moving in a certain way; felt full of energy; felt connected to the being growing within me – would have happily stayed eight months pregnant forever.
But that’s not how it works and four weeks before the due date I went om a tour of the hospital delivery suite and suddenly realised that I was going to have to ‘have’ this baby – and I did not feel ready.
I suppose it’s all about control – in pregnancy I was in charge –or at least I thought I was– I had lived my pregnancy carefully, haphazardly, healthily, hopefully but generally as I wanted. The last few weeks gave me just a few more boxes to tick - phone numbers, birth plan, bag packed, ready meals in the freezer.
But more and more it was wondering if I should go to work, visit my friend who’s had flu, take a weekend break, chance climbing into the loft or drive across town by myself. Instinct made me more and more reflective; absorbed in the division taking place within me; establishing connections that would outlast the ‘due’ date. Telling the baby ‘you are mine’ – but realistically, it was the baby who was now in control. The baby who will born when she is ready (two weeks late as it happened) and everything would then revolve around her. As much as I had prepared I did not feel ready and as much as I had planned I felt lost.
And that is true, because when a baby is born everything does change – the baby is born -and you are reborn – as a mother. And all around you, other people are reborn as fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. The house and the car become too small – the world too big - the future both exciting and frightening. The ripple effect of just one tiny new life.
And how can anyone possibly be ready for that?
St Luke has been trying to prepare us all year– the Gospel of Luke the Physician speaks to us of a practical almost pragmatic Jesus; a Jesus who wants us ready for anything. If we have listened; if we have taken the teaching seriously, then we will have taken opportunities to become more prayerful, to bring God further into our daily lives.
Romantically, the idea of spiritual preparation is often compared to going into battle, becoming one of God’s warriors – onward Christian soldiers.
But it is much more like pregnancy – what we are preparing for is a lifelong commitment; a relationship that will change; will change us; will grow, may waiver but will never go away; will never be without belonging; will never be without love.
In Advent even the Church changes; changes from being a mother to being a midwife - calls us in to reflect - nurses us towards our new beginning – moving our focus from ourselves to the One who is coming - from the Jesus we think we think is only ours – to the Christ who holds us all.
In Advent we are invited to share the last few weeks as Mary spent them; no fait accompli –but making ready, being ready; wondering and waiting; laying awake at night feeling uncertain and unsettled; anxiously journeying towards an event that would change her life; that would change the life of the world –the birth of the One who is the Light of the World.