New life is amazing.
I know it sounds cliche, but it seems just like yesterday when my wife and I were at the hospital experiencing the birth of our third child, Adrielle. There were some complications at the onset–she was turned around the wrong way in the birth canal, causing my wife extreme pain, and signaling a possibility of protracted labor.
Soon enough our baby flipped around the right way and the delivery happened fairly quickly after that. What a relief!
She didn’t breathe right away though. My other two children cried immediately after birth, but Adrielle was quiet, and the midwives hurried her over to the table to get her going.
That was possibly the longest minute of our lives.
When she did finally cry, we realized again the near-miracle of this birth. Our daughter was over 11 pounds and 24 inches long! She wasn’t obese or anything, but just came out looking like a toddler! The nurses and midwives were amazed that my wife gave birth to this large, healthy girl, all natural.
Sometimes we men feel like useless bystanders during the birthing process.
You realize your wife is doing all the work and you want to do something to help. But the most you can do is just offer a few over-used remarks like “You’re doing great, honey. Don’t give up!” all the time knowing that one part of your wife would like to rip your voice box out of your neck and stomp it flat, and yet taking some comfort in knowing that the other part is glad you’re there, even if you’re actually accomplishing nothing to alleviate her pain. (I did find something useful I could do this time around, though. Noticing how hot my wife’s face was, I used the hospital data folder as a fan. She said it felt good.)
Once the baby is born and the pain has subsided, your wife is back to herself again.
I think Jesus said it best: “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” (John 16:21)
Seeing a new life come into the world is a terrifying, beautiful process.
The waiting, the anticipation, the frustration, the anxiousness, the joy of witnessing a child enter the world is a transaction that reminds you of the gift of life itself. Especially when a birth has complications, you realize that the doorway through which life emerges is enshrouded by the possibility of death–and that makes you appreciate the miracle of life all the more.
I just finished a 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas portrait painting that illustrates what I think is the best part of the birthing process: the time when your family and friends visit and share in the joy and wonder of your beautiful new child–so delicate, so incredibly made, so perfect. This was a portrait commissioned by a man I met recently while doing portrait sketches at the Bushel & A Peck Apple Orchard (Chippewa Falls, WI) the last couple years. He saw my portfolio and decided to have a painting done that he would give as a gift for his wife. Good going, husband!
Interestingly, after he had already commissioned me, his wife mentioned that the photo they had snapped at the hospital would be a great picture to have blown up.
He didn’t let the cat out of the bag.
Later on, when he gave the painting to her, she just loved it. Here is what she wrote about it on Facebook:
“Eric had a PAINTING done of my favorite photo for my birthday. I cannot believe how much this painting looks identical to the picture. (I was so sad this photo was taken on an iPhone and couldn’t be enlarged to a photo print). I couldn’t be more in love with this…it will be cherished forever! heart emoticon What absolute talent by a local artist, Matt Philleo.” — at Fine Art by Matt Philleo.
I love the expression and interaction of these children, holding their new baby brother. It was fun to paint the different textures–the ridges in the baby’s blanket, the hair, the softness of the pillows and sheets. I really enjoyed doing this painting and creating a beautiful portrait from a photo.
Here are a couple of in progress shots.
And finally, a close-up of the baby.
If you have any memories like this that you would like to capture in a special way, with a unique painting, just let me know. I would love to be a part of the process! Meanwhile, remember every moment of life. They are valuable and precious, and our little children have a way of reminding us of that.
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