Anticipating the arrival of a baby is such a happy time for expectant parents. And frankly, I’ve always been grateful that you have about nine months to prepare!
With each of our three children, I used those months to study and pray in order to welcome them into our lives. I also worked with a Christian Science practitioner, who supported my prayers and offered guidance along the way, as well as specific prayer-based treatment for any issues that came up.
Understanding metaphysical concepts related to pregnancy and childbirth is an important exercise for any spiritual thinker, whether mother or father, grandparent, adoptive parent, or even someone who isn’t ever planning to have children. Considering birth from a spiritual perspective opens thought to God’s grand creation, preparing us for newness, vitality, and a fuller understanding of God as divine Life—as our only creator.
Who’s the real parent?
At one point, I grappled with the question “If God is the creator and Father-Mother of the universe, then why does it appear that my husband and I have created a child? What’s that all about?”
The question lingered until I came across this line in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Multiplication of God’s children comes from no power of propagation in matter, it is the reflection of Spirit” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 303). Related to that, as part of an answer to the question, “What is man?” Mary Baker Eddy answers, “. . . that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker” (p. 475).
These statements brought the clarity I was searching for. As God’s children, we each reflect spiritually all that belongs to our divine parent—to Life!—including creative power. But that power never originates with man, with you and me. I saw that having a baby is an aspect of that reflection. It isn’t separate or disconnected from the expression of one’s spirituality and from a fuller understanding of God’s infinite creation.
A recent Christian Science Bible Lesson included the story of Solomon and his wise decision in determining the correct mother of a baby (see I Kings 3:16–28). Both mothers had just given birth and one had accidentally smothered her child in the night. When both claimed they were the living baby’s rightful mother, Solomon boldly suggested they should cut the child in half and share it! Of course, that was the intelligent key to discovering the real mother, who was unwilling to sacrifice her child.
After reading this story, my younger son commented, “Boy, Solomon sure knew the difference between a fake mother and a real mother!” My son’s insight, while seemingly simple on the surface, got me thinking in a completely fresh way about this story. I asked myself, Don’t we all need to discern between the “fake mother” and the “real mother”?
The fake mother would divide us in two, claiming that we are both material and spiritual; that we are physical, made up of our family’s DNA, past history, and faults. The fake mother (and you could say father, too) claims to love us, but the love comes from a smothering, selfish source.
On the other hand, the real mother, our divine Mother-Love, would never divide us in two, but assures that we are entirely spiritual with a divine heritage—pure, complete, healthy, whole—divinely cherished and created. This Bible story, opened up in this way, shows how important it is to listen to our real Mother, God, on a daily basis. She informs us of who we are and who everyone is in our lives, including a new baby. It’s helpful to ask yourself on a daily basis, “Is that my real Mother talking—or is that the fake mother, speaking falsehoods about my identity?” The real Mother is the only one who has a voice and tells the truth about Her creation. This silences any fears associated with complications, inheritance, genetics, etc., attached to pregnancy and childbirth.
What are you carrying?
As the baby grows, it’s important for both parents to grow in understanding their spiritual identity. It might be tempting to think that the baby is borrowing from the mother, perhaps taking away from her health or well-being in the form of nourishment—or just changing her body in general! But the spiritual fact is that both the mother and child are unique and fully formed, with their own relationship and connection to God. The weight and growth of the baby can be seen as a natural process that goes forward harmoniously. As Mrs. Eddy explains, “Though gathering new energy, this idea cannot injure its useful surroundings in the travail of spiritual birth.” And further, “Its beginning will be meek, its growth sturdy, and its maturity undecaying” (Science and Health, p. 463).
When I was expecting our daughter, I was caring for our toddler and teaching school full time. On top of that, my husband traveled for his job almost every week of the month. One evening after a full day, I was dragging a heavy trash can out to the curb, resenting the fact that my husband wasn’t there to help. Our relatives lived far away, and one of our neighbors (who was watching me as he brought his own trash to the curb) wasn’t offering a hand either! The baby felt heavy and for the past week I had been experiencing some abdominal pain from the weight.
That night I opened my Bible randomly, reaching out to God for an answer. I read this passage: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11). Well, this couldn’t have been more perfect for my need. I immediately felt so loved and saw that God was leading me, carrying me and the baby, and that I didn’t need to rely on my husband or my body to bear the weight. As Isaiah 46 says, “I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (verse 4). That lifted the burden, and the pain and frustration disappeared, too.
Where will the money come from?
Perhaps related to this is the thought that the baby will be a burden on the family finances. But just as a child cannot take away from the mother’s health and well-being, it’s important to claim that it cannot strain a family’s economic stability either. Effortless adjustments can take place that bless everyone involved.
Before our daughter was born, I made the decision not to renew my teaching contract. My principal urged me to reconsider, even offering me support for the next year with child-care options, etc. But my prayers gave me the confidence that I’d made the right decision—despite the fact we needed my income to cover our mortgage. That summer, after our daughter was born, I continued to pray every day, cherishing the desire to be able to stay home with our two children.
Soon my husband was offered a new job close to home, which didn’t require any travel and doubled his income, covering my former salary exactly and allowing me to care for our family full time.
How will the birth take place?
It’s easy—perhaps especially as Christian Scientists—to get caught up in thinking that a natural birth (often attended by a midwife) is somehow a more “spiritual” way to go about things. That may be a wonderful way to have a baby (I know from experience), but what are we really talking about here? Isn’t the real desire to keep thought so elevated from the human event that you gain a deeper appreciation for the spiritual meaning of birth—and “detach thought from its material conceptions”? In a paragraph on scientific obstetrics in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy counsels: “To attend properly the birth of the new child, or divine idea, you should so detach mortal thought from its material conceptions, that the birth will be natural and safe” (p. 463).
“It’s not about the event.” That’s the angel message I got when I was about to have my first child. The doctor said there were complications, and he recommended that I come in the very next day to induce labor three weeks earlier than my expected due date. I was devastated. All along, I had planned to have a natural birth, and now I was being told that was not to be. I cried all the way home from the hospital, certain that I had failed.
The spiritual preparation and care that go into thinking about welcoming a new child into one’s family are what will best ensure a harmonious birth.
But the doctor had given me the night to pray (he knew I was a Christian Scientist and he honored my beliefs). That night, as I turned to God in prayer with all my heart, I thought about Daniel in the lions’ den. Was his safety compromised just because he was surrounded by lions and had no escape route? Was the king really determining his future? Where was God and where was his trust in God’s protection? Daniel’s thought—informed by his prayers and reliance on God—remained calm and trusting. The lions never touched him that night in the den.
In my case, I saw how the lions represented my fears. Fears of medical procedures, complications, the various predictions posed by the doctor—even my fear that I wasn’t demonstrating Christian Science fully. But my prayers showed me that I could shut down these fears—“shut their mouths”—with the knowledge that my perfection and the perfection of my child could never be compromised. The king was like the doctor, caring and compassionate, yet following the material laws he thought to be true. But God was communicating a different message: “It’s not about the event.”
My husband and I wanted the birth to be “natural and safe,” and we wanted what was best for our child. So I stopped connecting the birth to a material, physical process—to how I wanted the birth to take place—and focused instead on recognizing the spiritual qualities already present and fully available. Qualities such as harmony, peace, joy, and perfection. They couldn’t be “induced” or forced to be present. By morning, I was no longer afraid when we drove to the hospital, and I no longer felt willful about the outcome of this birth.
In the end, the birth was natural and the doctor was present to witness it. Later, one of his nurses asked me, “How was your C-section?” certain that was how it had gone. But the doctor replied, “Oh, no, it was a natural birth, completely without complications.”
Since then I’ve had two more children, each very unique pregnancies and births—and also natural.
But the take-away that has stayed with me is that human birth and the physical process of giving birth can never mirror the divine. The birth process, however it takes place, is still a human event. In reality, the immortality and spirituality of each new child is completely intact, unaffected by how birth occurs in human experience—and prayer reveals that.
The spiritual preparation and care that go into thinking about welcoming a new child into one’s family are what will best ensure a harmonious birth. Prayer breaks down the false limitations that would say pain, complications, or fear accompanies pregnancy and childbirth. These have no place when we recognize God’s control of every event of our lives. And then we can trust that birth is both natural and safe.
As expectant parents (grandparents and others) acknowledge this, we will bring home more than a beautiful new baby. We will have gained invaluable spiritual insights about our relationship with our real Mother and Her beloved children.
Ingrid Peschke is the managing editor of the Sentinel and a Christian Science practitioner in Framingham, Massachusetts.
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