As a first time parent, my greatest fear was that traditional standards of obstetric care would render me a passive participant in my own pregnancy and my child’s birth. After several decades of gynecological care that left me feeling unheard and unseen, I wanted to be in a place of empowerment during this incredible phase of my life. Bringing my baby’s birth into my own home meant having her in a space where I am accustomed to being heard, making informed decisions for myself, and having them respected.

There were so many wonderful things about you that put me at ease, but the three that stand out are:

You listened to me to understand me, not to prescribe something to me, manage me, or give me directives. This made me feel heard and respected.

You were incredibly intelligent and informed. A first-time pregnancy can be a complicated dance between listening to your inner voice and wisdom and letting evidence-based research take precedence. Your intelligence helped cut straight to the core of the issue during key decision-making moments. That helped me feel informed, and helped me place my trust in you. Your competence and skill gave me the freedom to attend to the inner preparation of bringing a life into the world. You can’t put a price on that.

You have strong but calm energy. I never felt like I had to make space for your opinions or personality in this process in any way that diminished me; you were like a strong and solid bass line, thrumming beneath the noise of a dozen other instruments. Pregnancy and childbirth can be noisy and chaotic at times! You helped me feel safe and at peace, from start to finish.

I’d relay an anecdote. One memory in particular comes to mind. The scene: I had just given birth less than 30 minutes prior, was saturated in sweat, and I wanted a shower. Given the physical event I’d just powered through, someone had to be in the room with me in case I needed help. You came into the bathroom with me, and I remember feeling relieved that you were there. Physically, I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a distorted reflection of my old body. The feeling of having just given birth, for me, was a feeling of deep accomplishment, but also tremendous vulnerability. With you in the room, while I washed off the sweat and blood, I felt zero self-consciousness, zero anxiety, and complete trust — all in my objectively completely vulnerable state. It was like having a trusted and dear confidant in the room. I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine feeling that in a hospital setting, and it’s a testament to how well you are suited to this job. You put the client’s needs front and center and honor them to the best of your ability. Your ability is exceptional.

That’s really what it was all about for me as a first-time parent: Having safety and agency in my own birthing process. You supported that and helped make my dream a reality.