My Second Baby
When I was pregnant with my first son, my mom and friends threw me a baby shower. We ate Mexican food, talked, and opened presents. The amount of things I needed for a first baby was amazing to me. We got a swing, car seat, bouncy seat, clothes, and an incredible number of onesies. It was a wonderful time to celebrate my new baby and to receive the many baby items we would be needing. I heard stories from my family and friends about their pregnancies, births, and experiences. The support and wisdom in that room was very empowering.
There was no baby shower when I was pregnant with my second baby. After all, we had all the baby things we needed. It did make me somewhat sad, though, that this baby would not be receiving the same celebration as my first. I didn’t need things, but I did miss the excitement and support that I got from having all my friends and loved ones together to celebrate my baby. This would have been a perfect time for a Blessingway; unfortunately, none of my family or friends knew about Blessingways so I didn’t get one, but I’ve been to a few since then.
A Blessingway is an alternative to a baby shower. It is a celebration of pregnancy and birth. It is a way to show support for the mother-to-be and to honor the new life coming into the world. There is no emphasis on gift giving. There are many rituals to choose from when giving a Blessingway. The most recent one I went to involved many of these rituals.
The invitation for my friend’s Blessingway arrived via email. Each person was asked to bring a few stems of flowers, a bead, a reading or poem, a small gift for the mother, and food to share. Invitees included her family, friends, midwife, chiropractor, and many others. We all gathered at her family home to celebrate the coming arrival of her second baby.
It was a sunny day in February. There was snow on the ground and the sky was a beautiful winter blue. It was a gorgeous day to celebrate a new life! I arrived with some bell-shaped purple flowers, a green and brown bead, a poem about pregnancy that I have always loved, some homemade muffins, and a small bottle of organic apricot baby oil.
The house was filled with women and babies. The hostess had thoughtfully made nametags with descriptions of who each person was and how they knew the guest of honor. A glass vase sat on the dining room table and each person placed their stems of flowers in the vase. The bouquet was diverse, colorful, and soon was enormous. A henna tattoo artist was set up in the family room. She was hired to draw henna tattoos on the guests and would later do one on my friend’s pregnant belly.
The guests chatted, ate, and shared positive stories about their own pregnancy and births. No horror stories of labor and birth here! Everyone wanted only good energy to be a part of this celebration. In the living room there was a beautiful maternity portrait of my friend done just days before.
We all gathered in the living room to begin the Blessingway rituals. We sat in a circle and took turns reading the poems and readings we each had brought. There were poems, birth stories, and original writings. Each was selected to specially honor the miracle of pregnancy and birth. The poem I had brought was about the amazement of feeling the baby kick and knowing that those small feet would be eventually be used to walk, run, and jump.
Next, we each presented the bead we had selected. Each guest was asked to tell the meaning behind the bead she has selected for the mother-to-be. When all the beads were collected the hostess strung them into a beautiful birthing necklace for my friend to wear until she gave birth. The necklace would be a reminder to her of all the support and love she and the baby had from this group of women.
After that we each gave my friend the small presents we had picked out for her. These presents were to be meaningful things that would help relax her before the hard work of labor. My apricot oil was to be used as a prenatal belly massage oil. There were lotions, candles, and frames. Some people gave gift certificates for a pedicure or a prenatal massage.
After all this was done the henna artist began her work on my friend’s pregnant belly. She used dark brown henna ink to create a stunning henna tattoo filled with plants, stars, vines, and many other images that represented pregnancy, mothering, and her connection to her support system of women. Her belly turned out beautifully - what a beautiful way to celebrate her last few weeks of pregnancy!
A few weeks later my friend’s second son was born peacefully at home. Among the things in her birthing room were her maternity picture, the dried flowers from her Blessingway, and the birthing necklace we made. The henna on her belly had faded but the support and love that she felt from her Blessingway had not.
Editor's Note: The Blessingway or Blessing Way ceremony is generally based on a Navajo (native North American indian) Mother Blessing, which focuses on a woman's spiritual journey into motherhood, rather than on the child and its physical needs (as is usual in a Baby Shower). The ceremony focuses on the positive energy needed to prepare for and fulfill the committment of being a mother and is the second part of the ascent to womanhood.
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