I've gone back and forth over the last year, trying to decide whether to share these pictures. My hope in sharing them is to inspire other women to capture this magical time as well.
Exactly one year ago today, at 37 weeks pregnant, I went to Sarah Prall's studio for a portrait session. I gave birth to our daughter just 9 days later.
When I was pregnant I remember saying I became a mother the moment our daughter was conceived. I look at these pictures and see that mother held within me like a spring bud. I see the devotion, the contentment, the nurturing, the intimacy, the joy, the vast unknown.
These portraits capture that liminal time as I stood on the cusp of the full flowering of motherhood, before I first held my girl in my arms and felt my heart swell and overflow and crack open in a way nothing could have prepared me for.
It is the me not of my girlhood, nor the me of today, but a mysterious in-between place of ripeness and possibility.
We have thousands of photographs of my daughter and me, beginning when she was only a few seconds old, the two of us still connected by a pulsing umbilical cord. I pause and laugh and cry as I look back through them now, forgetting and remembering all those tiny, precious moments that make up a whole year.
These portraits have shown me the sacred vessel I've become, as a mother, to hold the enormity of all those moments...and go on holding them for the rest of my life.
Of all the rites of passage I've experienced, both formal and informal, my blessingway stands out as the most significant, and perhaps the most powerful. I was so grateful to have six of the dearest women in my life, including my mother and sister, come together to bless my journey into motherhood just 11 days, it would turn out, before I gave birth.
I specifically requested touch; birth is, if nothing else, a physical experience and I wanted to honor that in the blessingway. The woman decided to take turns massaging my belly with lavender oil while offering their blessings to my soon-to-be-born daughter.
They also included a fear release exercise from "The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book," adapted slightly by TalkBirth. One idea she suggests for a blessingway ritual is to circle around the pregnant woman holding hands and then read the following together:
You will be enough. You are strong enough.
One of the most cherished gifts from my mother blessing were the affirmations the dearest women in my life wrote for my birth. Full of powerful wisdom, encouragement and faith, these blessingway affirmations stayed with me through birth and continue to offer guidance as I journey deeper into motherhood. May their words bring you strength and confidence!
Remember mother blessings can be anything from an intricate, scripted ceremony to a few women gathering together with the simple intention to bless the mother-to-be. One element that was particularly meaningful from my own blessingway were the readings and poems my mother, sister and oldest friend shared with me.
It wasn't until after I gave birth that I fully understood their powerful beauty and truth. I hope you treasure these words as much as I have.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.