I’m still feeling glowing and radiant (not sweaty and puffy!) from an absolutely beautiful day yesterday: my Mama Blessing.
What’s a “Mama Blessing”? I hear you ask. Well, it’s like a baby shower, but better. And hippier. It typically involves a ceremony of women performing symbolic rituals and sharing words to help prepare the mother for birth. And flower crowns, because why not!
We were meant to have the ceremony outside but we had a massive heatwave over the weekend, so instead we gathered in the space that will be my home birth room, and I’m so glad we did because the space feels more sacred and special to me now.
I spent the whole 3-day weekend preparing – cleaning, making food, arranging flowers (not to mention weeks of planning!) so I was pretty exhausted by the end, and I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that at 35 weeks pregnant I was also highly emotional. But I think I needed the release – so many emotions I’d been holding onto!
Mama Blessings (or Mother Blessings) are based on a Navajo Blessingway tradition. They’re still commonly referred to as Blessingways, but a lot of people find the term culturally appropriative. And a lot of the reading I did on these ceremonies involved invoking various goddesses and other things that felt about disingenuous to me as an Atheist.
I wanted to make it my own, and instead just make it an awesome celebration of womanhood. I can truly say every woman there added to the amazing energy and made me feel 100% supported.
My friend Skye did an amazing job of leading us through the ceremony in a really thoughtful and sincere way. I added some unique variations on rituals that I thought I’d list here in case it inspires anyone planning a ceremony.
After introductions I led a guided meditation that I cobbled together from a few different sources that focused on releasing any worries or negative energy. We used buckets of rose petal water (there was a bit of a theme of flowers and water) to cleanse our hands.
After that it was my turn. I read my birth story from Luella’s birth. Not the one I wrote on my blog three years ago. But the very raw, honest version. The one I’ve relived in flashbacks over and over, wishing I could give anything for a “do-over”. The one I couldn’t get more than halfway through reading aloud without bursting into tears. Jeez. Thank goodness for the support of strong women who created a safe space for me.
As I read, my friend Ash wrote a series of words on my body that corresponded to a particular fear or emotion I was holding onto. Words like “guilt”, “self-doubt”, “control”. After my story each women went around and washed a particular word off my body, while reading an affirmation I’d prepared.
Next everyone shared a reading I had requested them to bring in the invite. I had said they could bring a quote, poem, book excerpt, write something of their own – whatever felt right, so long as it was positive. It was nice not to be the only one in tears as these heartfelt pieces were shared. It was truly moving, probably my favourite part of the ceremony.
Lastly, we created a birth rope. I had seen one used in a childbirth education video and learned that they’re used around the world as a labour support tool. I asked each woman to bring along a scarf that they then tied together in a circle around me, and then Ash braided them to strengthen the rope so that I can hang it and use it in my own labour. I love the symbolism of drawing on the strength of these women, and the inter-connectedness of us all.
As Ash braided, I read one final poem to close the ceremony: The Passage by Marcie Macari. Then came…
I love cooking for others and sharing how awesome vegan food can be. Jim and I self-catered our wedding and I think I put just as much work, if not more, into this event as well. Because I had so many recipe requests, here’s what I served, with recipe links where relevant.
Cucumber Basil Water (pretty self-explanatory)
Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade
Blackcurrant Berry Punch (a mix of blended watermelon juice, Nudie blackcurrant apple juice, and some fresh berries)
A platter of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and vegan cheese with crackers and sourdough bread.
That was the tea I prepared for the ceremony. (I’m starting to get on board with the Aussie use of the word “tea” to refer to a meal and not a drink.) For the celebration afterwards, we invited our partners and kiddos to join us, and we had:
Rice Paper Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce (made by Ash!)
Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Avocado Cream (subbing Tofutti cream cheese)
Spinach Dip in Sourdough Bread Bowl (made by Jim! Bread from Sonoma Bakery; the dip is just two packs of Tofutti, a block of frozen spinach, and half a bag of French onion soup mix – so easy, but it always gets rave reviews)
Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus (subbing Biocheese for Parmesan and olive oil for butter)
Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with Kale Pesto Quinoa (I used quinoa in place of rice and added a little basil)
Lavender Biscuits with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing (These are my new obsession! I couldn’t stop eating them. I subbed Nuttlex Buttery Spread and rolled them a bit thinner and got 36 biscuits out of the recipe. Culinary lavender was tricky to find, but I got it at Flemington Markets – along with all my other produce and flowers. The icing recipe in the above link used a crazy amount of sugar, so instead I followed the recipe that happened to be on my bag of Bundaberg’s Icing Sugar, which was 1.5 C icing sugar, 75g cream cheese, 2 tsps lemon juice, zest of one lemon.)
Black Cherry Chessecakes (Which I forgot were in the freezer till half my guests left! Whoops! I just added in 2 tbsps black cherry preserves to the filling – these ones are refined sugar free and healthy – woo!)
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (Made by Jim and self-explanatory. True (TMI) story: Jim made these for me on Valentines Day, which was when we conceived this baby, so he might just owe his existence to chocolate dipped strawberries!)
A lot of mother blessing ceremonies involve henna (mehndi) belly painting, but that also felt a bit appropriative to me, so instead I had Luella paint my belly, just using regular washable tempera paint, and let her friends join in on the action.
It made for lots of laughter and mess and great photos.
All in all, the event went as perfectly as I could have imagined. I feel like I’m in such a good headspace now for giving birth. I just hope I can maintain this energy for these last few weeks!