There's a moment in labor that brings me a sense of awe every time: We're in a dark room, labor is intensifying, and we can all tell the baby is getting closer. The birthing person's eyes are closed during and between contractions, there's moaning and swaying, and leaning on their partner. The partner holds them gently and whispers sweet encouragement. I kneel on the floor just holding space. The mom opens her eyes, makes eye contact with me, and gives me a look. It's a powerful and impactful look. When I look someone straight in the eyes during the depths of labor, it feels like I am given the opportunity to see unparalleled amounts of strength and determination.
Sometimes I catch myself trying to think of the exact right thing to say in these moments. What I remind myself of is that there is not always a profound or impactful thing to say. Sometimes presence matters more than words. I hope my eyes offer a safe space to land, a reassuring glance, and a mirror for that person's strength and power. They already have all they need to welcome their baby into the world. When they look at me, I want them to see someone who fully believes in them and their journey. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. I feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to experience these moments with families.