I've gone back and forth over the last year, trying to decide whether to share these pictures.
Here I am, one year to the day since I had my mother blessing. Last year, March 30th was a new moon - the perfect time for a blessingway.
"Restfully, gently the world prepares for new. To embrace the potential of darkness we must surrender to the unknown and let go of our attachments to the future. For it is in darkness, this place of the unknown, that all things sacred, all things of joy and beauty and pleasure come. From darkness, life is born."
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.
As a writer, one element that was particularly meaningful from my blessingway were the readings and poems my mother, sister and oldest friend shared with me. You can read those and along with a labor prayer here.
Last and most dear is this doll my mother gave to me, along with the story of Vasilisa the Beautiful. In the Russian fairy tale, on her death bed Vasilisa's mother gives her a tiny wooden doll to carry. With the help of the doll, Vasilisa was able to perform the many tasks set before her.
My Vasilisa doll stays by my bedside where I see it every day, and I live each day blessed by my mother's wisdom and love.
As we approach my daughter's 1st birthday (and the 1 year anniversary of my initiation into motherhood), I find myself engulfed by thoughts of pregnancy, labor and childbirth - much as I was at this time last year.
The final weeks and days of my pregnancy were a potent time for me - yes, sometimes a roller coaster of emotion - but filled with the overpowering sense that I stood on the edge of a precipice, about to step off into the much-longed for and wildly unknown world of motherhood.
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!
At this time last year I was eagerly awaiting the birth of our daughter. The labor and birth - not to mention finally getting to meet her and hold her in my arms - occupied my entire being.
The blessingway or mother blessing the dearest women in my life held for me was the turning point in my emotional and spiritual readiness for birth and motherhood.
You can read more about my own blessingway here and the special birth affirmations here.
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.
I am a willow tree,
Strong, yet fluid
I can bend with the wind,
but my roots are tough,
Opening to birth my child
is flowing with the wind:
from a soft and gentle breeze
to a stormy gale
back to a soft and gentle breeze.
My body is strong, but flexible.
It is my friend, it knows how to open.
I am a friend to my body
eating well, walking, and loving myself.
I shall birth safely, freely, openly . . .
among my loved and trusted ones.
I am the willow, flexible
endowed with the power of surrender
to the wind rustling through my leaves,
My roots reach deep into Mother Earth
Anchored in Her strength
I bring forth life
From the book Joyful Birth: A Spiritual Path to Motherhood
by Susan Piver
The path of motherhood has a beginning but no end. It’s constantly changing and constantly challenging. Along the way, we encounter our personal limits over and over. We fall in love over and over. We ride the sharp edge of hope and fear. On this path of discovery, as on any spiritual path, our pretensions are shattered, our minds are blown, and our hearts are opened. We cry, we laugh, we bumble around and make countless mistakes. Through it all, we are gently—or abruptly—poked into greater honesty, loving-kindness, and understanding. It is a truly joyful path.
The memory of my children's birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go.
A Prayer for One Who Comes to Choose This Life
by Danelia Wild
May she know the welcome
of open arms and hearts
May she know she is loved
by many and by one
May she know the circle of friendship that gives
and receives love in all its forms
May she know and be known
in the heart of another
May she know the heart
that is this earth
reach for the stars and
call it home
And in the end
may she find everything
in her heart
and her heart
A Labor Prayer
by Donna Wilson
Dear Father, thank you for this new baby.
Would You protect and nurture this baby
and bring this pregnancy to full term.
In labor, would You remove all fear
and replace it with faith and expectation.
Please give those attending the birth
wisdom to take the best care of mother and baby.
Please let this baby be born normal and whole,
healthy and strong, and at home
with no complications with baby or mother.
Father, thank you for hearing my prayer,
for I pray in the name of Him who is called
Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Poem for My 7 Month Birth Day
Walking home with the sunset
The air somehow both warm and cold
The sky a complicated mood.
An impossibly red maple
Flagrant, dayglo against faded yellow and brown
Makes me pause in wonder.
These autumn days tumble headlong into winter
With characteristic abandon
But questionable reasoning.
Or is it?
Trust in nature - that was my mantra for birth
How it moves with purpose
Sometimes chaotic, sometimes gaspingly lovely
Breath moving in and out
My body expanding and contracting in its own wildness
And me but an observer
as I am on this day
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.