Even though I was pretty into birthy things while I was pregnant with Miles, I feel like there’s a whole universe of information I discovered only after I became a mother. One aspect of the birth-junky universe is the Mother Blessing (sometimes calls a Blessingway).
Our ICAN chapter holds Mother Blessings-of-sort when we know a member is coming to her last meeting before birthing, where other members write up a “blessing” or wish for her during birthing time and string a symbolic bead onto a necklace for her to take with her and remind her we are all right there with her. This was the first I’d heard of such a ritual.
Then, a friend of mine had a Blessingway before the birth of her second child and I was invited! I felt so honored and loved her celebration so much I just knew I had to have one when I got pregnant again.
And so, my friend Emily helped me organize a Mother Blessing.
It was so magical! I wanted mine to be relatively simple (some women choose to include lots of ritual or even prayer, belly casting…there are entire books about Blessingways and Mother Blessings!). I invited about 10 women who are close to me and have been really supportive of my VBAC journey (mainly women I met through ICAN). Emily helped me organize and acted as facilitator for the day.
We sent out invitations explaining that a Mother Blessing is not the same thing as a baby shower. Instead of showering a mama with material gifts, I asked them to bring something nutritious, some wisdom, an affirmation, and a bead/trinket.
At this point, you might be thinking it sounds very intense and crunchy/woo-woo-ey, and you’d be right! But it was beautiful and solemn and it just made me feel so good inside.
I asked everyone to share wisdom in terms of positive memories from their birth experience(s) to fortify my confidence.
Then, I had written out my fears for this birthing (which I’m proud to say wasn’t too terrible since I’ve been doing a lot of fear clearing with my Hypnobabies program). I read the fears aloud, which will never get easier. Initially, I planned to burn the fears in the back yard, but it was raining. So I read them in the living room, ripped them up, and we all blew bubbles to fill that space vacated by the heavy fears with something light and beautiful.
I had bought touchable bubbles, so my living room was FILLED with bubbles for a very long time. (One mama suggested I could stomp the fear-bubbles away like bubble wrap! I chose to leave the bubbles to burst on their own because I liked how they looked and felt all around me–they didn’t feel like fears anymore.)
Next, everyone shared an affirmation or a blessing for me to read as I prepare for this birthing time. My mother and aunts had sent in birth stories and affirmations, which Emily read aloud, too. I liked, for example, how my Aunt Judy reminded me I am strong because I come from strong women.
Each guest had brought a meaningful bead for me (Mom and my aunts mailed beads, too). Lots of times, women string these onto necklaces to wear or look at during birthing, as a focal point. I had decided to knit a womb doll and will most likely pin the beads to my womb to fortify this symbolic body part, hoping to restore my confidence in my body to function in birthing. I might remember to bring it with me to the hospital, but even leading up to the big day I have all these wonderful remembrances of the people supporting me. I am both humbled and strengthened by this support every time I look at it.
Finally, Emily had brought lavender scented henna and painted a tree of life on my belly! Miles finds this tree to be fascinating. I love walking around with it under my shirt, like a secret. Only it’s not terribly secret because I’ve been showing people a lot. In public.
We sent each guest home with a candle to burn during my birthing time, so they can all be with me in that moment, together (which reminds me that I need to get Emily the list of contact info for the people who will need to light candles!). I’ve been burning similar candles for friends lately, and I love the idea that in some small way, I am there with that friend, supporting her. It gives me a lot of peace to know there will be people out there lighting similar candles for me and Octagon.
So that’s my big, sappy overview of my really special ceremony. I wish every woman would get to experience such a thing. I sure hope I get called upon in the future to organize one for someone I love!
PS–all these photos were taken by Shannon of Perceptivity Photography, one of my partners listed on my sidebar!