Mama stands beside the bed squeezing dad's hands, moaning and dancing the dance that only a pushing mother knows. Her baby is on its way. I stand behind her holding a warm compress on her perineum. We wait, she pushes. As I place a fresh compress on her taut tissues I feel baby's head bulging ever so slightly downward into my hand and I know it will be soon. The nurse exits the room to alert the doctor while mama continues to do the primal work of pushing. Her eyes are shut tight and she is deep within herself. The door swings open just as mom gives a push, the final push that will bring her baby from womb to world. The doctor is gowning and gloving, she wants to catch this little girl, but instead baby is slipping into my waiting hands.
The ease and effortlessness of catching baby astonishes and delights me. Mama does all the work, I just receive. Then it's her turn to receive; she gathers her baby into her arms, joy on her face, murmuring words of love to this tiny stranger. Mama climbs into the bed and silence reigns for a few moments while dad reads a poem written just for this tiny lady. There is calm after the storm.