On the 5th of May last year, my women friends gathered around me in preparation for William's birth. Led by my midwife Claire, they pampered and prayed and encircled me as I prepared to birth my sweet baby. It was one of the most beautiful and memorable times in my life- from that Blessing, right through to his remarkable birth and those weeks following as I had my "babymoon" with him! You can read or relive the Blessing here, or Will's birth story here.
But last night as my home filled with women, it wasn't me being encircled this time. It was our friend Petrina, due to have her baby anytime in the next few weeks. It was so strange being on the other side of the gathering this time! Quite surreal, especially being 1 year almost to the day since I was the one with the huge belly. :) It was wonderful to be able to bless Petrina and show her how much she is loved and cherished. In many cultures around the world, ceremonies like this mark important times in people's lives............ from birth to reaching adolescence and so on. They bring communities together to show support for the one going through the transition or life stage. I think our culture is lacking in this area. From my own experience of the Baby Blessing, it was incredibly unique and a beautiful way to bless and gather in prayer and show the expectant mother that she is not in this alone........ many women have gone before her......... birth is a natural part of life.............. and she is so loved and supported!!
Petrina gave me a list of women she would like to be in attendance, and my friend Karen and I put together the invitations, got them mailed out and had a little chat about what we would like to do on the night. I don't have photos of everything, just a few!
We introduced ourselves around the circle to share our "maternal lineage"- that line of women from which we come. For example...... "I am Saminda. Daughter to Roslyn. Granddaughter to Gladys. Mother to Saraya, Elijah and William." I can't express how we all felt at this moment- it was truly a precious sharing time.
As Petrina soaked her feet in the foot spa we massaged her hands and shoulders with lavender and grapeseed oil. Foot and calf massage followed! Her hair was braided and filled with baby roses which I cut from the garden yesterday. Nothing like feeling like a bride all over again. :)
William was most intrigued by the candles I had lit around the place, all the people..... and the foot spa. :) He was up until 8:30 or so before he hit the hay for the night. After pampering Petrina physically, we beaded together a bracelet for her to wear through her labour (we had all brought a bead along). We then gathered in a circle for a time of shared prayer - some of us also read out poems, verses, or short blessings we had written for her. We cut a thin strand of leather cord for each of us to wear around our wrists to remind us to pray daily for Petrina and the baby. This is to stay on until after the baby is born! The girls did this for me and it was always humbling and special to see those wristbands on - I felt so surrounded with love and prayer!
As a symbolic gesture we had asked Petrina to write on paper and bring along in an envelope any fears she has regarding this baby or the birth, labour etc. We then threw it in the fireplace. :)
And then, we ate! As Karen put it, "an important part of every ceremony". :) Everyone had brought a plate of food to share..... but Cathy's chocolate pudding kind-of took over as the preferred supper. It was good.
As everyone left for home late last night Petrina said with tears in her eyes that she had never felt so supported and loved in her entire life. I know, I felt the same way this time last year. :) I pray she can carry this love with her into her special moment coming soon.............. the birth of her number 3 baby, the birth of a brand new creation. Go Petrina!!!