The Privilege To Witness by Laurie Zoyiopoulos

Something I wrote a couple of years ago after a home VBAC…..
Yesterday I was a midwife more than a baby catcher. Some think that the 2 are always the same, but I know that they are not. Most of the time I catch a baby as the mother pushes him out into my hands. My tools are a few gentle words and some warm oil. My presence is reassuring, but not always essential to her. Anyone could take my place without concern. 

Yesterday a mother needed more than someone to catch her baby. She needed many words and hands. She needed to look straight into my eyes and search for fear. She sought deeper than most eyes do and when she only saw a knowing calm, she could open a little bit more. She had to hear that all was well and that she was strong and her baby was just fine. She had to hear that she could do it….. that she was, indeed, doing it. She needed to hear this over and over and we could not grow weary on her. With her senses so keenly aware, she would have spotted someone unsure of what to do or say, from a mile away.

Some women are so strong that it is difficult for them to be weak. Some woman have spent their whole lives being weak and they have to find a way to be strong. To let the child that they have grown and nurtured and protected for months, come out into the world of unknowns, takes strength and weakness. It takes power and vulnerability. 

My task at a birth is usually a simple one – one of catching or receiving a baby, but sometimes it isn’t that straightforward. Sometimes I’m called to foster courage, to show her how to trust the unknown. I have to demonstrate confidence and keep fear far away. I offer reassurance and a safe place to be vulnerable. And in this calling I am privileged to witness just how strong women truly are as they become mothers.