The day (and more) that I gave birth to my son was the most intense, exciting day of my life thus far. After weeks of being impatient and so over being pregnant, I went for a massage, ate a giant bowl of Phở, and finally felt the kind of unmistakably legit contractions that let you know it's time to call the midwife. I always expected to feel nervous when I gave birth, but once it was happening, I didn't. I felt prepared and ready, especially because my partner made me feel capable during labor and delivery.
My husband was the best birth partner I could ever have hoped for. Part of reason why was a result of our preparation, including a trimester's worth of birthing classes and in-depth appointments and community care sessions with my midwives. By the time I went into labor, we knew a lot about what to expect, so we weren't thrown off or worried about what was going on. However, it was also just because that's who he is: a caring, supportive, feminist Army vet who is the literal best person to have around during any intense, high-stakes situation where staying calm and making good choices quickly really matter. He knows how to be responsive and supportive without being intrusive and getting in somebody else's way, which meant he was able to hold space for me during labor and support me, while letting me do the work that was ultimately mine — not the midwives', not his, but mine — to do.
There were so many big and small things he did that made a difference for me during labor, though if you asked him (as several of our friends did after meeting our son for the first time), he'd just humbly reply, "I mean, she was doing the hard part. I just did my best not to be a total dumbass." We laughed when he said that but, unfortunately, in a society that doesn't really help people (especially cisgender men) to not be dumbasses during birth, that is actually more of an accomplishment than it perhaps ought to be. I reminisce about that day a lot, and if I thought about it further I could probably come up with plenty more ways my partner helped me feel capable during birth, but the following are the first that come to mind: