Saturday, April 04, 2009

Blessingway

I spent the morning and afternoon getting the house cleaned and ready for the Blessingway. I went outside and cut just about every daffodil in our yard and put them all around the house. I found these lovely peach and white daffodils on the east side of our house. I never knew they came in that color.
My friend Julie arrived in the afternoon with her 14-month old Joyce. She is a fellow LDS graduate student and home birther who lives about an hour and a half away. She found me via my blog a few months ago, and we started emailing and talking to each other. She's finishing her master's degree and just got accepted into a PhD program and will probably be focusing on some aspect of childbirth. We had arranged to meet in person at least three times before the Blessingway, but one or both of us had had to cancel each time at the last minute. So we saw each other in the flesh for the first time yesterday! It's good that we felt comfortable around each other, because one of the first things I did was strip down to a bikini and ask her to take some belly shots of me. She took some lovely ones, which I'll post soon.

Setting up chairs and chatting.
My friend Julie, turned away from the camera, talking with my midwife and a friend of mine (both of whom are pregnant). Julie on the left and my mom holding Julie's daughter. Zari kept asking to play with her today.
Once we were all sitting down, the guests took turns introducing themselves and describing how they knew me. There were several women I had met at church, some friends who are Eric's collegauges (or faculty spouses), the midwife and her four assistants/apprentices, my mom, my sister from Dayton, and my friend Julie, who organized the event.

Each of us also shared a favorite memory either of our own mothers, or of being a mother. Some were very poignant, some quite funny, others sweet and simple. My story was a recent one. A few weeks ago, Zari and I watched Eric play intermural indoor soccer. The teams were shirts vs. skins, so there were a lot of bare-chested men running around. Zari kept saying something with the phrase "little tiny." I finally turned closer to hear, and this is what she was repeating to me as she was watching the men play soccer: "He has little tiny breasts." I tried not to laugh as I told her, "yes, he does." Then she turned to me, patted my chest, and said, "Mama has big breasts." Best of all was when she pointed to a more...ahem...pudgy man and said very earnestly, "He has big breasts too."
Julie then invited my midwife to give a short thought/devotional. She talked about overcoming fear & pain in childbirth. Each of us spoke about things that had given us fear or anxiety during pregnancy or motherhood.

Next, we took a break to stretch our legs and feast on all of the delicious food my guests had brought. Then it was time to do a henna tattoo!Most everyone took turns drawing this tree of life design on my belly. I was quite impressed. Notice the knot hole on the tree (aka my belly button).
While we were doing this, I had my guests read cards and hold up the quilt squares that my out-of-town friends and family had sent in. If you are one of those who are still working on your squares, this is a friendly reminder to send it to me soon so I can put the quilt together!

To finish the evening, each of the guests presented me with a bead they had brought. Once I get the necklace put together, I'll take a picture and explain some of the symbolism behind the various beads. A fun project for this weekend.

I spoke about some of the blessing ceremonies that Mormon women did over 100 years ago as they prepared for childbirth. Julie concluded the evening by reading Audrey Lorde's poem "Forever With Child."

We were going to do a belly cast after the Blessingway, but my midwife thought that it would be best to wait a few days, since I still had wet henna paint all over my belly. Instead, we did a quick prenatal visit, and I spoke to her assistants about my expectations for their role at the birth. (I won't have all four of them at my birth, of course; it depends on which one is available when I go into labor.) I peeled the dried henna off this morning, and now there's a lovely pale red tree decorating my belly. I hope it lasts until the baby arrives!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my Blessingway. It meant a lot to me to feel your love and support.

15 comments:

  1. that green is my all-time favorite color besides black and white. the colors are sharp and amazing.

    I took my daughter to a dentist appt yesterday at 2...but before I left I lit a candle and placed a small blessing for you next to it. I thought about you as I knitted waiting at the dentist's office. I was there with you in spirit yesterday. Wish I could have been there in person.

    Love to you, Rixa. :)

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  2. jen.b.in.az4/4/09, 4:51 PM

    It sounds (and looks) like a wonderful time. Again, so sad I'm so far away and couldn't be a part in real life! You look radiant, and your belly is gorgeous - your weekly shots don't do it justice :) I love the henna tree too. Some day if you get around to it, I'd love to hear more about the blessing ceremonies of the Mormon women you mentioned...and of course I look forward to seeing the quilt (or at least the squares
    By the way, any chance you've got an informal poll for guesses of date/weight/sex going for BabyFreeze2?

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  3. I love this post. The belly art is gorgeous! Sounds like such an amazing day. I can't wait to see the other pictures. Are you making a quilt for the baby? I don't quilt very well but my mother in law does so I might have her make a quilt for my children. It's such a sweet idea.

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  4. Everything sounds so wonderful! How great to be surrounded by women who believe in you and your abilities!!

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  5. that's a beautiful tree. I had fun doing henna paint.

    i still need to paint and hang willem's belly cast, thanks for reminding me!

    i love the flower wreath. so pretty! and those daffodils are just amazing. ours haven't bloomed yet, but the leaves have popped out of the ground. Daffodils will forever remind me of my son's placentas, as both were buried beneath them.

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  6. That henna belly art was amazing!! Be sure to post a picture of it in its red version.

    My blessing wish for you: May you stay centered and rooted, like your belly-tree, and yet may you also sway in the wind like even the most rooted tree does, going with the flow and staying flexible. Each birth is different in wondrous ways; be open to the journey you are given this time, and celebrate the similarities and differences. May you have a wonderful, loving birth.

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  7. Oh, that sounds like it was wonderful. I wish I could have been there. I've been checking all day to see when you were going to post about it. I'm so happy you were able to have such a lovely, peaceful Blessingway.

    I look forward to hearing this little one's birth story.

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  8. I LOVE, LOVE the tree on your belly! It turned out so well and that is such a fun idea! We did the same at one of my mother's blessing ceremonies but just a small mandala around my belly button and then friends added in their own little wishes, blessings, and designs around the edges. It only lasted a few days though :(

    I would love to hear more about LDS women preparing for birth. I've read one or two interesting essays but I am always interested in more. That sounds fascinating!

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  9. That was great - I got some ideas for my own! I'm glad it went well.

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  10. I want to hear more about the LDS women preparing for birth and blessings, please share your knowledge.

    I have been giving much thought to the quilt square and think I've finally got an idea. I just need to execute it now. I have been thinking about it all week but alas was not able to work on it. Hopefully that will be my crafty project for tomorrow during conference!

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  11. What a gorgeous event! I very much want a blessingway for my next pregnancy. I love the henna belly art ... and those photos you posted of your belly in your bikini?? BEAUTIFUL!!!

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  12. Hi Rixa, I have been following your blog for a long time. You have been a great inspiration for my UC birth of my first child.

    I am very curious as to why you have chosen a midwife this time around?

    Do you in general believe that a midwife assissted birth is safer or better for mom and baby?

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  13. Your ceremony sounded wonderful and I hope that when that day comes for me it will be just as beautiful! Your daffodils are so pretty!

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  14. Irena,

    I think that as I get older (wiser? who knows) I am moving more & more away from any kind of generalized statements or beliefs about birth. I think the whole concept of safety is an illusion. There is no safe choice, if we believe that safe means a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen. Do I believe that birthing at home is a reasonable choice? Of course. But I hate to use the word "safe" in any context surrounding birth. It's too complex and contested to have any real sort of meaning.

    So instead of approaching birth from a generalized belief of one sort of another (i.e., that midwife-assisted birth is safer than unassisted, or that hospital birth is safer than home) I can only make decisions for each specific pregnancy and birth.

    We have no accurate numbers on mortality/morbidity rates of planned unassisted birth as it is practiced today. Would it surprise me if those numbers were higher than midwife-attended home birth or hospital birth? No. There are going to be situations that would be better handled by someone with the appropriate skills and equipment. Would that mean unassisted birth is never a reasonable choice for me or other women? No--because I believe that we make decisions based on so much more than statistical probabilities. And also that we can be guided--call it intuition, call it spiritual or divine inspiration--to make choices that are best for *us* even if statistical probabilities might dictate another course of action.

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  15. The house, your belly, the friends and family, all look so beautiful! I thought about you all day Saturday and was hoping it went just like you have posted!

    Happy happy times!

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