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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Skip the Babyshower! Have a Mother Blessing Instead!

When I was pregnant with my first child (almost 9 years ago) I was determined to check off every item that babycentre canada said that I needed as a first time mom. My husband and i were both students so we were not as flush as we would have hoped and so we thought a good way to get baby items was to throw a babyshower. It was a good time for sure. We played all of the party games and I got a ton of swag....which I barely even used.

The part about a babyshower that no one tells you is that you probably won't be using all of the "must haves" that the baby companies say that you need. In reality, you only need clothing and diapers. Other than that, everything else is completely personal. (We didn't even use our crib!)
So when baby number 2 and 3 came around I decided to go the more non-traditional route and have a Blessing Way.

A Mother Blessing or Blessingway is a tradition that is taken from many other traditions and then melded to make a beautiful ceremony that celebrates women and motherhood.
Traditionally it is comprised of a group of women that are mothers but who are also incredibly close to the mother who is being celebrated. The guest list is very intimate and extremely exclusive. If a woman invites you to her blessing way, she feels that you alone have a very special place in her heart, and it something to feel very honoured about. (you don't just invite everyone.)

There is no right way to plan a Blessingway, as every mothers needs are different, just as every woman is different. A mother blessing for a first time mom will look very different from that of a second time mom, or a mom who has/going to have a C-birth or a VBAC. If you are hosting the Blessingway for your friend/sister it is important to know this and plan accordingly.

I thought it might be nice if I explained how my own blessing ways typically go, so that you can get a better idea and start planning one for a close girlfriend, or get someone to throw one for you!

About a month before the event send out the invitations. In the invite let everyone know what a Blessingway is and ask them to bring a bead that will be strung on the birth mother's neck while in labour so that she can remember everyone who is there to support her during her birth. Ask them to come with a couple of blessings in mind, one for the mom about her birth, one for the baby, and one for the mom about how her life will change.

Also, ask the guests to bring a potluck item for everyone to share. After the ceremony, it's always nice to nosh together and just talk.

On the day of, if the mother wanted people to place their blessings inside her belly cast, then make sure that she has already made one a couple days before. If not, and she wants to do a belly cast, this can be a fun activity to do at the Blessing so make sure you have the items available.

Once all the guests arrive and are seated in a circle, go around the circle and have each woman introduce herself by her mothers lineage. For example, My name is Alisha, daughter of Ruth, Granddaughter of Audrey, and so on. At this point each woman lights a candle. These candles are to stay lit for the whole ceremony, and at the end each woman takes hers home to re-light when the mother goes into labour. It is also nice at this point to have each mom tell a funny story about the mom-to-be, or how they met, or why they feel their friendship is valuable etc. (The whole point is to make the mom feel supported).

Next, each woman goes around the circle and places a bead on a string, explaining why they chose that particular bead, and what significance it has to them or the new mom, while doing this they also state the wish that they have for the upcoming birth. For example, "I wish for your birth to be one of complete calmness and love. To birth with openness and strength." Once the necklace is done it is placed around the mothers neck.

Next, there is a little pampering where the mother can get her feet washed, hair brushed, nails painted, henna started (henna on the belly). Sometimes a crown of flowers will be placed on her head. Just to signify how beautiful she is; inside and out. Sometimes women bring items for a pampering basket for after the baby is born.

After the pampering is done, the attendants are asked to share their hopes and dreams for the child and mother. They can also be asked to write them down, as to keep a scrapbook if the mother so wished. For example, "My wish for your child is that they are happy and healthy. My wish for you is to have patience  and understand that the early years are so fleeting. Embrace your child with all the love you feel for them now, everyday."

When all of the blessings are over, get a ball of yarn and tie a couple loops around each woman's wrist. This signifies that all the women in the circle are connected and they are asked to wear that bracelet until the baby is born, so that each time they look down at their wrist they think of the special day, the mother, the child and all of the women who were in the room. (After the baby is born everyone can cut their bracelets off - but sometimes the new mom will wear it for 6 weeks post-partum or until it falls off to remind her of the support that is still there if she needs it.)

Lastly, the candles are blown out and all of the women move to the food table. Sharing stories of motherhood, life and support. Sometimes there is a sign-up list for each woman to bring a meal to the family when the child makes an appearance.

I hope that was informative for all of you, and I hope that maybe you will throw one of these, or go to one in the future. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hello Baby - A Book Review

With my fourth baby due in a month, the boys and I have been doing a lot of preparation for the upcoming birth. My oldest son really wants to be there and especially wants to cut the cord.
I am still on the fence about him being in the room, especially during transition, but I am open to exploring the options and will probably end up deciding the day of.

Since I am having a homebirth with midwives it will be easy for him to come in and out when he sees fit. I know that my labours are typically short and boring, as I tend to go inward...but the transition is pretty intense and I don't really want to be distracted or scare him because I get a little vocal. (read - swear like a trucker).

But, I also want to honour that he would like to be there, and I think normalizing birth for children is so important for when they are older. If they see birth as a normal, natural process, they will be less likely to be influenced by he media that tries to convince us that it is a medical condition that needs "fixing".

One of my most favourite ways to prepare my kids for my birth is by reading them the story Hello Baby by Jenny Overend. Hello Baby is a wonderful story about a mom with 3 kids who is having a homebirth with a midwife. She goes about her day while her husband and children set up for the birth and upcoming arrival of their new sibling. It is through the eyes of a 4 or 5 year old boy and is so beautifully illustrated that it really shows how calm and wonderful a birth can be.

I really recommend it for anyone who wants to normalize a vaginal birth, even if you would prefer to birth in hospital. The story has many questions that the boy asks that are exactly what any child expecting a new sibling would ask, and so easy for kids to understand.

Here is a link to get it on Amazon
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