I am a planner, researcher, analyzer, and overthinker.  For me, preparing for my baby meant spending hours reading car seat and stroller reviews online, polling my friends for registry tips, and creating a 7-page document for my family with maps to the hospital, important phone numbers, and nearby dining options.  So, naturally, creating a birth plan was right up my alley. For those unfamiliar, a birth plan is something some expecting mothers create as a way to think through and communicate birth experience preferences to their doctor/midwife.  

Now with childbirth under my belt, this Christmas I find myself marveling at Mary's birth experience.  What if she had hoped for everything to happen just as it did? Her birth plan might have looked something like this:

  • Where do you plan to give birth? I'd prefer someplace quiet and private, maybe even dark, damp, and dirty.  A stable or cave would be ideal. 

  • Who do you want present at the birth? Joseph and a slew of smelly, snorting animals, absolutely.  Family and midwife, optional. 

  • What will you do for pain relief? Joseph will coach me through our Lamaze exercises.  But, to relax when I can, I wouldn't mind a comfortable pillow...perhaps a large stone, a bag of feed, or a pile of straw, I'm not picky. 

  • What activities or positions do you plan to use during labor? As we'll be going out of town before delivery, I plan to ride my donkey for at least part of the labor and possibly walk around in search of a place to stay for the remainder.

  • What are your preferences for your baby's care? We'll have his swaddling cloths packed and simply ask for a suitable bed for our baby.  A feeding trough would work nicely.  

  • Will you take visitors? Yes, please send visitors to us as soon as the little one is born. Friends, family, strangers, unbathed shepherds straight from the fields.  We'll just ask that everyone wash their hands with the Purell I'll have packed.

  • Where are you registered? Babies R Us, Nazareth and Bethlehem locations.  But we're also accepting gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

  • Will you be sending a birth announcement? I believe God will be taking care of that for us.

Ok, so it's far more likely that Christ's birth didn't go at all as Mary had planned, but she was a willing and flexible servant of God's plan.  And after all was said and done that night, I imagine cuddling up close to her precious newborn son, the long-awaited Messiah, was a pretty sweet reward for her trust and obedience. I'm sure his soft skin and sleepy smiles made the whole experience worthwhile - donkey ride and all.