Luke 2:7

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Though the family above the stable were most assuredly awake through her screaming, Mary thanked God above they stayed where they were, and politely pretended to not hear.

Her pains began when they arrived here, at first a cramp here and pressure there. By the time they finished the meal with Joseph’s extended family in their hillside house in Bethlehem, she barely could climb down those stairs to the room below. She leaned heavily onto Joseph–her husband nearly carrying her fully, one step at a time. When she felt the cool dirt beneath her feet, a sigh of relief shuddered out of her.

It was the last sigh of relief she would feel for hours. For hours, all she’s felt are the waves crashing and receding–pain that doesn’t stop. Joseph, a constant companion, rubs Mary’s back, wipes hair from her sweaty brow, whispers prayers over her heaving shoulders as the minutes pass.

“Something isn’t right!” The words burst from his young wife as her body trembles through another contraction, but Joseph can see what she can’t see.

He can see that the source of all her pain–the pain that went from a cramping ache mere hours ago to a searing hot knife of terror now–it was the baby himself. The Savior. The promised One.

“Mary–he–he’s.” Speech leaves him completely as a head of dark, wet curls turns to a meaty, wrinkled forehead, black lashes, and then a broad nose, pursed lips.

He doesn’t make a sound as Joseph holds him between his broad hands–so small. He hands him to Mary who’s fingers stretch toward the new baby despite near exhaustion. She pulls him to her chest, and he slowly opens his eyes, dark and wide as he beholds his mother, the world around him.

“Jesus.” She whispers to the darkness–the rabbits and sheep and donkeys stirring in the shadows. “Your name is Jesus.”