It has been a while since I was at a birth. I stopped several years ago, because the work I was doing outside of birth didn't let me devote the time that I believe families deserve though the childbearing year. I have missed it often, and with fondness.
There is a miracle that happens at births, and I don't mean the miracle of life, because heaven help us all, that can happen without much.
Some birth workers like watching people become a family, right before their eyes. Some birth workers like being present when life enters, and takes its first big breaths, and don't get me wrong- Both of those things can take me to my knees in an instant and are so meaningful to me that I have a deeply private and important list of the names of people I have known since that first moment, but that has never been the reason that I do it.
I could tell you about the logical reasons. I could tell you that I feel it's profoundly important for healthy mums and babies to have healthy, low intervention births, and that having skilled midwives and doulas makes it all the more likely. I could talk to you at length about how I think those low intervention births stack the deck for easier bonding, easier breastfeeding and dyads who bounce back from birth faster, and with more joy and less work - and I swear to you in the name of all that I hold dear, those things are absolutely true - but they still aren't why I love to be there.
I do it, because nothing else... nothing else, compares to watching a woman move mountains with her own self, to watching her rise to a challenge and meet the moment with all she has, and that experience is only enhanced when she is supported by those who care for her, respect her, and want her to be empowered by the journey.
There is nobody, out the other side of that sort of strong birth, who is not better prepared to meet the absolutely remarkable challenges of parenthood. When the power and trust is transferred to the mother, when she delivers her child, rather than "is delivered" when she chooses, rather than "is allowed", no matter what sort of technical birth she has, she is stronger, fiercer, and better. After a trip like that, you would kill for that child, and you know you can.
This is all a long way of saying that I have missed it. The miraculous moment when a woman owns the living daylights out of her own body, and moves something incredible through it. It breaks my heart with the strength, the dignity and the bravery of it.
Thanks for allowing me to be there Jen, and welcome to your achingly beautiful daughter Marlowe.
You are both a miracle.
PS. Jen kept her end of the deal. I got to hold the baby,
so she got all the knits. Straight exchange.