It’s been a year since this journey began.
I always prayed that what I did when I grew up had meaning and purpose.
I never in a million years thought I would be this blessed.
I can’t count the times I’ve smiled, nodded and whispered to a husband with the deer in the headlights look “it’s ok, she’s ok”.
Or times I’ve driven 3x the speed limit to get to their house or hospital.
I’ve been with mommas who were in labor for 27 hours. I’ve been with mommas who were in labor for 2 hours.
I have held hands and cried with mommas whose labors went nothing like we planned.
I have rejoiced with a mom when she is finally complete.
I’ve fallen asleep sitting at the foot of the bed, with my head by their feet.
I have been a doula to a doula.
I have told a mom she needs to get an epidural.
And the many times I have come home to John after a long or hard birth and the second I see his face I start to cry.
And many, many times I tiptoe into my kids’ rooms in the middle of the night when I get home, kneel by their beds and watch them sleep and twitch.
I’ve cut an umbilical cord.
I’ve been seen as a part of the team by some health care professionals, while others never even acknowledged my presence.
Or the times the nurse has been our lifeline, our saving grace. And we hug each other before leaving.
And when an OB looks me in the eyes, shakes my hand and says “It has been a pleasure working with you. I hope to see you again soon”.
All the hugs from dads I get before I leave. And the choked up “thank you” before they turn back to their new family.
I have sat next to the midwife who delivered my own son as together we help a momma deliver hers.
I have cards from families and pictures of babies in my kitchen. And every time I look them my heart does a little skip.
I still get sad sometimes that my husband will never see me work.
When I get home Harper always asks me if it was a girl or boy baby. And I always hope she’ll develop a passion for this and work with me someday.
I’ll never forget the vaginal breech birth I witnessed. I swore she could feel my heart pounding against her leg.
Or the time I told a woman she had to get her baby out with her next push and after hours of her eyes closed, she opened them, looked right at me and nodded. Then did it.
Or the time a young momma gave her baby up for adoption. The obvious love she had for her daughter and with tears said she wouldn’t change a thing.
And the time we got to the hospital, I got the momma kneeling on the wheelchair and she simply said “RUN”. She had her baby in her arms less than 15 minutes later.
Or the tears and heavy hearts that come with each c-section.
Then the laughter and smiles and joy that come with every birth, no matter the path.
I celebrate with mommas when they achieve their desires for birth.
I grieve with them when things didn’t go as they hoped.
The look on parents’ faces when this messy, goopy bundle is placed on momma’s chest. Adoration. Shock. Amazement. Fear. Pride. They look at the baby, at each other, the baby again. It’s my favorite part.
I see women at their best, worst, happiest and most vulnerable and desperate.
I see women do their greatest work.
And I always overflow with pride.
And all the times a panicked mom looks at me, shaking her head and I make my eyes level with hers, engaging her, smiling saying “Look at me. You can do this. You’ve got this. Breathe with me. Move with your husband. Hold my hand. Focus on letting the pain move through you. Don’t fight it, momma. Breathe. Low sounds. Down to your baby, that’s right. We are right here with you and you are safe. This is what is needed to bring you your baby. You’re doing wonderful. Perfect. This is normal and you are doing a beautiful job.”
And together we sing an ancient song that I know millions of women before us have chanted. It sounds and looks different for all of us, but it’s the song that brings forth life.
I’ve seen 33 babies come into this world. Each story different. Each story beautiful.
This job isn’t glamorous. But oh, is it breathtaking.