Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House, spoke beautifully in her writings about the intimate connection between pregnancy and birth, and Advent and Christmas. “Each pregnancy sings of the First Advent,” she wrote. “Pregnancy and advent, eternally renewed, in every woman entering the Holy State of Matrimony, brings forth the fruit of its blinding joy and love. That is the tremendous secret that Christ, the fruit of the First Advent, has given the world.” Though Rose was born in October, her advent into out family was, for us, an extraordinary example of God’s gifts of Joy and Love that comes to us every Christmas, and His gift of deeper understanding of ourselves as mother and father, and woman and man.
When my wife Theresa first told me that we were expecting our tenth child, my reaction almost surprised me. I was overjoyed! I recall reacting to the news of some of our earlier pregnancies with some trepidation – another mouth to feed, our house is too small! How am I going to manage? I say almost surprised because I’ve found that with each birth in our family, I’ve come closer to a true understanding of the wonderful and precious gift a child is.
I naturally assumed that it would be another boy – both of us, after nine boys, believed that God’s plan for us was to raise a family of boys and we were quite content with this. I told Theresa that I wanted to call him Louie. She said she had been thinking of that name herself. So Louie it was. Little did we know what God had in store for us.
At last Theresa’s time to be delivered arrived. Her labor progressed without too much difficulty, though I was very tired and began falling asleep while I was rubbing her back during contractions.
Suddenly Theresa said, “The baby is coming,” and everybody in the room sprang to life. Our doctor told us the head was “crowning.” I was busy near Theresa’s ear, encouraging her. I glanced down to see the baby’s head delivered, then returned my attention to Theresa’s face. Almost at the same moment I heard the doctor suck in his breath. For a split second I thought something was wrong. Then he said, “Oh my God, it’s a girl!”
I looked down and beheld a tiny pink girl cradled in his arms. I looked at Theresa in wide-eyed astonishment. She looked back at me with unbelieving eyes, as if to say, “just a minute now, that can’t be right.”
I felt a combination of joy and shock and didn’t know whether I should be dancing and shouting, or sitting in the nearest chair pondering the reality of having a daughter. As I gazed at her, what I did was simply fall in love with her.
After all the measuring, checking and hospital routine was finished, we were left alone with our new-born daughter. Very slowly the shock gave way to gratitude to our Lord for her safe birth. There was also a sense of wonderment at how God was working in our lives and why, after nine boys, He had decided to give us a girl.
We called our closest friends at 2:30 a.m. to let them know of Rose’s birth. By morning, the news had spread throughout our community and farther. The outpouring of love and joy that her birth caused overwhelmed us. We were showered with gifts in pink. Each of the births in our family have been very special and joyful and we have always felt the love, support and closeness of our friends and community, but the excitement created by the birth of a girl onto our family of boys was something we hadn’t experienced before. We felt humbled, grateful and blessed.
The announcement of Rose’s birth was received by our sons with a mixture of astonishment, incredulity and wonder. Andrew, our oldest, thought we were fooling him. Most of the boys were very pleased. Some said they had been looking forward to another brother, but changed their minds when they saw her. The littlest ones kept calling Rose “him” because they hadn’t used the feminine pronoun much before.
Since Rose’s birth we’ve been asked what difference she made to our family. The most obvious and pleasing difference was the gentleness she brought out in our often boisterous boys. We had seen this softer side in the boys of families who have girls, and often wished our own sons were like that. Now God had answered our prayers in a way we’d never expected.
Each child has a purpose in God’s plan. At the time, we were not sure why He gave Rose to us and what effect she would have on us. Now, twenty years later, we see that the surprise God gave us in the birth of a daughter was meant to give us a deeper understanding of the complimentarity of male and female, and the unique gift each gender has for the other in order to make us complete in our humanity.
Rose’s subtle femininity as a new-born elevated and completed the “maleness” of our family of boys. Now, at twenty, she is ready to offer the gift of her femininity in marriage to a (in my opinion) very fortunate young man so that they too may be complete and fulfill God’s plan for marriage and family.
So how would I sum up the advent of a daughter into our family? We were tickled pink to have her.
I wish you all abundant blessings, joy, peace and a very merry Christmas!
[The Baklinskis have 14 children and Rose was not their only daughter.]