Monday, February 23, 2009

With a little help from My Friends...

So a good part of my desire to return to Florida was about connecting to my birth community. As a midwife who helped about 350 or so babies be born in my former home town, the momma-baby network for me there is pretty good! Specifically, there are a few moms who gave birth around the same time I did, who really made their way into my heart and became my inner circle of friends. I knew I would miss them when my birthing time drew near, but did not expect to be able to connect in person. However, the closer I got to my due date, the sadder I was at the prospect of not tapping into the friendship and support for my vision of a sacred birth that these women could offer me. I decided it was worth it to go back.

We cultivated our friendship first as baby buddies, sharing the times, trials, and joys of just entering motherhood together. The next level of connection came when we began doing "New Moon Circles" together. I have a post brewing in the back of my mind about how the new moon circle came to be, but it is something I have done with various groups and women since about the year 2000. In 2005, this group became a cohesive circle. We started as an open group, whoever we thought would be into could come, but as time went on it became a more intimate group who shared a history together, and so it just naturally evolved into a closed circle of just us regulars. Our first circle was October or November of 2005, and we have met almost every moon since then. We get together after child bedtimes, about 8pm usually, and do it by whatever day the moon is new. The time is sacred, the purpose to share and envision. We are ceremonial, opening a sacred circle, sinking into our deepest selves with a mediation, and then speaking in turn about the events of the moon that just passed, and speaking to our intentions for the coming moon. It is a time we get caught up on the events of one another's daily life, and clarify and share the hopes and dreams for the time to come. It is a welcome peaceful chance to speak and listen with out having to elevate voices over the sounds of many little children that originally brought us together.

Having sat together in this ceremonial energy together so many times now, calling in the sacred vibe comes ever more naturally to us. This is a great strength for us when we conduct our Mother Blessings. I was the first of my group to have a mother blessing- I actually put in on for myself when pregnant with my daughter. I had helped host one for another client, who came from New Mexico and was in a birth community where Pam England, the midwife who wrote "Birthing from Within" had worked on creating a birth community based on processing through birth art and honoring the sacred journey of pregnancy. I had been hosting new moon circles for a while, and longed to tap into the support of my friends and family in a more meaningful way than what a baby shower offers. American baby showers often involve games and strained chit chat amongst near strangers, and well, its an environment I loathe, really. So I put together my own Mother Blessing (what we refered to as a Blessingway, then, but that is a Navajo cermenoy and they asked that their terminology not be adopted by non-tribe members, so Mother Blessing it is now...) The Mother Blessing asks each participant to offer their heart felt good wishes to the mother, and new family, and is set up to honor the birthing woman for the sacred rite of passage she is embarking on- the birth of her child. I am drawn to the work I do as a midwife because birth offers the opportunity for real, deep, and transformative work. It is my joy to be able to bring that aspect to the forefront of our awareness, as we do in a mother blessing.

From my Mother Blessing for my Daughter's Birth in 2005

Here is the material I used for the MotherBlessing invitation from when my daughter was born. A quote and painting, a brief explanation of the purpose of the blessing with a painting, and another quote a picture from the back of the card. All the artwork is by Mara Friedman, an artist from Oregon USA who has a studio named of NewMoon Visions.

Every act of birth requires the courage to let go of something, to let go of the breast, to let go of the lap, to let go of the hand, to let go of eventually all certainties, and to rely on one thing: one’s own power to be aware and respond; that is one’s creativity. To be creative means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. -Erich Fromm

A MotherBlessing is not a baby shower. It is a time to celebrate the rite of passage of the woman into motherhood, to acknowledge the shift in her role. It is also a time for her be welcomed into the circle of mothers in the community, while honoring the generations of mothers that passed before her, and welcoming the new generation we are preparing to meet. It is more a sacred women’s circle than just a party. You will be invited to share a blessing for the new mother, symbolized by a simple bead, which you will give to her to add to a necklace she can wear in labor to remember those that loan her strength for the journey to meet her baby’s soul. We will sit in circle together, share blessings, then celebrate with food afterwards. The purpose is to shower the family with blessings not gifts.

The Act of Opening Yourself Up

So That Another Being Can

Pass Down the Channel

And Out of You

Takes a Woman All the Way

Down To the

Very Deep of Living

-Judy Grahn

We have since that time had many more Mother Blessings to welcome new babies, and to hold the space for one another as we enter the very personal space of giving birth. And so, as new moon circles, birth circles, and Mother Blessing circles have a way of all came full circle.
I was able to return to Florida and have my friends put together a Mother Blessing for me this time. I want to say "pulled off a Mother Blessing" because they really did pull something off here! The circle was just two weeks after I announced I was coming, and in that time they cleared their schedules, created a ritual and space of beauty, and even made a homemade community quilt decorated with each of their hand prints, so they could each hold me and my babe when I went back far from their helping hands and support.

It is with the deep love and support of my friends that I embark on the journey ahead, of having another baby, of welcoming another person into my home, my family, my tribe. I am so grateful for soul sisters who know me, and can feed me, on such deep levels. Now I am far away back home, it is strength and connection that is more meaningful than I can say. Here is a photo album of the day.... Snapfish:Photo:Shared .

(I was not able to get to figure out how to post these photos, so thanks to my friends over at Snip and Snail and Natural Nester who also blogged about the day, I ripped off pictures from your posts :) What good friends!!!)


Nic's NEWs said...

Wonderful to read about this - what magical traditions. Beautiful.

Kangaroo said...

it was a total honor and wonderful surprise that you were able to come home. we all love you and are still holding you in that sacred space. we'll put you there wednesday night: new moon in pisces!

Liquid Pen said...

Thanks for coming home! How could we NOT have held you close in sacred circle at this time? Way to make it happen...even from across the globe.