Beautiful Birth, Beautiful Baby, Beautiful Family
In my thousand word essay for the PCUSA Special Committee on Civil Union and Christian Marriage I wrote, “Thousands of GLBT Presbyterians have proven by their exemplary lives as faithful Christians that committed same-sex couples do display all the characteristics that church and society recognize as marriage: lifelong commitment upon which a family can be built and Christian discipleship can be nurtured.”
To bring this claim to life, I invited Heather to write to me about her experience and she graciously accepted. Heather and I have served on the More Light Presbyterians board together. She is devout, smart, creative, talented, and kind. Our friendship is a blessing to me. Heather chose to write about the birth of her daughter.
In the womb, my daughter was a wiggly, active, fast-moving person. I suppose we shouldn’t have expected her birth to be any different.
My wife began having labor pains late at night on April Fool’s Day. (They were the real thing, although we had joked about the possibility of having an April Fool’s baby.) A strong and self-sufficient sort of woman, she didn’t wake me up until about 4:30 in the morning when the pains were getting stronger. We called the hospital around 7, and they advised we should stay home because we had many hours yet to go. Good thing we decided to go the hospital anyway.
I drove my wife to the hospital, put her in a wheelchair, and she was seen right away. I sat by her bedside as she clutched my arm and bravely endured the most painful “transition” phase of labor. There was no time for anesthesia to take effect, so they didn’t bother using any. At 10:10 I watched a little wet head emerge into the world, covered with thick black hair, followed by the rest of my daughter, beautiful and exactly the color of grape juice. “It’s a girl! No, wait, wait…” I said. “Don’t be fooled by the umbilical cord,” said the nurse. “It’s a girl!” I said.
My daughter’s speedy entry into the world had caused some complications for my beloved and tired wife. For the next two hours I alternated between hugging my beautiful newborn, who waved her hands and blinked at things and cried and slept, all in the most expert and perfect way, of course; and hovering in concern over my wife’s bed. Thanks to the skill of midwives and the wonders of modern medicine, she was safe and sound, although pale and sleepy from loss of blood.
Later, we spent a lot of time cuddling our daughter and enjoyed an exhausted afternoon with some very happy new grandparents. A couple of times that day, we heard screams and cheering from other rooms nearby as other babies began their lives.
Some hours after our daughter’s birth, hospital staff came in to discuss her birth certificate. We gave her name, and our names as parents. My name went on the birth certificate right beside my wife’s.
It’s only because we live here in Massachusetts that it was that easy. Because I am a woman, my marriage to my wife is legal only here and in a handful of other states. Without that birth certificate, I’d have no legal relationship to my daughter. It was wonderful to be able to make our home here, in a place where the law recognizes our family as it is. There are families like my daughter’s all over the country and all over the world, though. We hope that one day all those families will have full recognition and full protection under the law.
In the meantime, our little girl (now a year and a half old) plays with her moms, pretends to read us books, bangs on the piano, stuffs herself on blueberries and goldfish crackers, goes to church, cheers for challah on Shabbat, adores her grandparents, and all in all, gets to be a beloved and blessed child.
Read more of Heather’s writing at: Holy Vignettes