Brie was pregnant for the first time and wanted to add a Mother Blessing to the list of things she could not miss out on for her first pregnancy. I was happy to take this project on after attending my first mother blessing the year before.
I began by consulting with a few local doulas that had experience with mother blessings to see what to include and how the ceremony should flow. I hope that Brie knows how truly lucky she is to be honored so thoughtfully by a group of likeminded mothers. What a beautiful thing to be a part of and be connected through.
I had a gooooooooorgous location picked out for her ceremony. A HUGE tree by the water that would provide shade and a beautiful backdrop. It was at a public park that often has birthday parties and events but I had never noticed the table by that tree before. I just knew it would be an amazing spot, secluded from the rest of the park, for her special day.
And as I pulled up early to set up... someone was camped out there. Quite literally. They were drying clothes on a line attached to their RV and taking up three parking spots. UGH. Please oh please there HAD to be another good spot. I hunted around and thankfully there was, but not by the water or that amazing tree. However it was quiet enough and far enough away from other groups there that day that we could continue the celebration undisturbed.
Then I got out of my car.
And it was COLD out. Sure, it was January. But it's Florida. And people that live in Florida put sweaters on when it's 70 degrees out. I think it was in the upper 50's. And breezy. So it wasn't horrible. But it wasn't really the let-the-babies-run-barefoot-in-the-grass weather I had been hoping for.
That's ok. I brought tons of blankets. And the mother blessing will go on.
I spread the blankets out, overlapping one another, to create a seating area for us to gather on.
In the center I placed a tray filled with gifts of nature and gifts for the mother blessing. I had connected deeply with the ocean during my last birth so I brought shells I had collected during my pregnancy. The fabric I placed them on was a Wrapsody Furoshiki cloth in the Morgaine colorway: a breastfeeding mermaid as a blessing toward a happy breastfeeding relationship with her future child. Each item I brought or made for this was chosen mindfully.
When people started arriving, we all put on headbands I had made. Brie got one with flowers that I had made. I filled it with baby's breath, another well wishing. And sealed it with a charm with the word BLESSED on it. The rest of us had smaller ones so we could all still be adorned, but Brie got the most magnificent one.
It did appear to have the wild beauty of a Pacific Islander leaf crown. This hula dance is all her.
Once our small group was all there, we began with what I found the most touching part of the ceremony I had experienced before. We all went around in a circle and introduced ourselves as mother and/ or daughters of other mothers. So I would say, "I am Cory, mother to Taylor and Emmy, daughter to Rita, daughter to Laura, daughter to Genevieve." The mother being blessed gets to include baby-to-be in her introduction, finding connection with baby as well as others. Daughters in attendance, if they are old enough to participate in this introduction, are welcome to find their connection. I love this part, finding connection with the history of women birthing before us... it gives me goosebumps.
Following the introductions, we sang a rythmic song that I was introduced to at the last ceremony I attended. Something to set the mood and remind us that we are natural beings, connected with the Earth on many levels. The girls played musical instruments as the women sang.
Next, was our first gift to the mother. Flowers for her crown. Each one of us brought a flower. Whether we bought one at the store, picked one from our garden, or found one along the way. It was a gift to adorn her. Having the baby's breath on there first was like having a nest for the flowers to rest in. Gorgeous flowers to adorn a new mother, they are the quintessential analogy for birth. Blossoming, opening, unfurling... a beautiful treasure to behold when it opens all the way. And another wonderful thing is that she got to wear this crown to her maternity session the next evening.
Another gift bestowed upon the mother was a necklace for her to wear during pregnancy and beyond. Each guest brought a bead that held a message or some form of sentiment, mother-to-mother or friend-to-friend. After we had each gone around in a circle and told our story of our bead selection, we threaded it onto the necklace and adorned her again with the final piece.
Now, a Mother Blessing is NOT a baby shower. This is an opportunity to celebrate the Mother, and shower HER with care, love, wisdom, sisterhood... Foot massage, shoulder rub, manicure, pedicure, a potluck with her favorite foods, sharing positive birth stories to help her prepare, or any number of ways a mother to be could be lifted up during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Gifts, as I understand, are usually those that form connections between mother and the circle she has present at the mother blessing. Like the flowers or beads. I recently encountered Mother Salts. In which each mother brings her own salt or herbs to add to a mix. Each person adds to the mix and then receives a small batch of her own in addition to the Mother's share. Or candles. Guests can all bring a candle for the mother, which are lit during labor. OR the host distributes candles to all guests so that when the Mother goes into labor, they all light their candles. The candles stay lit until baby is born, a way to show unity and support during labor.
Belly painting is another popular activity. I have seen beautiful colorful paintings created on a burgeoning belly. But my personal favorite is henna. Fortunately, I know a seriously talented artist that happens to be good with a tube of henna. Alexa of The Oxytocin Emporium, skillfully drew a mandala on Brie's belly as we colored and made birth affirmation banners.
By the time Brie's painting was done, everyone was chilly. So we wrapped up with the final parting ceremony: the binding ceremony. In this ceremony, a single, continuous thread is wrapped around the wrists of all that attend, starting and ending with the mother.
We sing as we become connected, "We are the flow, we are the ebb. We are the weavers, we are the web."
When the cord has completed it's circle and joined everyone together we acknowledge our connection. The cord is cut, making bracelets for everyone. The bracelets are to be worn until baby is born, another form of support and union among a circle of friends and mothers.
Alexa, again, was the mastermind behind how stunning this binding ceremony was. She strung and tied beads along a long length of cord, then wrapped them onto a wonderful little knob of wood she had found.
We helped each other tie the bracelets, our last binding experience before we parted ways.
I am so grateful to Brie, for allowing me this opportunity to grow and learn.
I am grateful to Alexa for bringing banners to color, a beautiful binding ceremony, and fantastic henna work.
I am grateful to Jenny for taking photos when my hands were busy.
I am grateful to Jen for bringing an assortment of musical instruments.
And I am grateful that my mother in law was visiting us at the time. She received the blessing of the herbal foot soak later that day that I wasn't able to do during the mother blessing.