Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Blessingway...

Flowers brought by guests, small blooms of which were woven into my hair.

Yesterday was a truly special day for me. I was given a Blessingway. It was a celebration of the soon-to-be rite of passage I will be taking into motherhood. A blessingway is similiar to a baby shower in that it is a gathering of friends that takes place at the end of a pregnancy, but it is different from a baby shower because the emphasis is more on wishing and giving the mother strength, and is an expression of the support of her community.

My doula, Yanick, suggested I have a blessingway several weeks ago during one of our meetings. I didn't know anything about blessingways at the time, and she explained a little to me. We spoke of it off and on, but it was only a week ago that I began to think seriously about what I would want to have happen. Being so far away from home and from my native language has been a big challenge, especially since I am experiencing pregnancy for the first time. [Note: An example is that all my doctor's appointments, meetings, lab tests, etc., have been in French, which means I'm missing about 70% of the words that are spoken! Mark makes up for the rest by attending the most important appointments and translating.] Pregnancy has caused in me a desire to be around my family and community more than ever, and yet they are farther away than ever! So, naturally I wanted to include everyone back home in this experience as much as I could.

I came up with two ideas: 1) to have a prayer flag, of sorts, on which would be written the hopes, prayers, and poems of loved ones, that I could bring with me to the hospital to read when I need it most, and 2) to have a phone/email "tree" to spread the news when I go into labor, and each person finding out could light a candle, say a prayer, or send good thoughts my way. I sent out an email to friends/family, asking if they wanted to participate and to send thoughts for my flag.

This entire week I have been receiving beautiful expressions of strength and wisdom from so many wonderful people! Thank you all, so so much! My little flag is turning into something I will treasure the rest of my life.

Yesterday at the Blessingway, I was given the royal treatment, and the support I felt from the women who came, combined with the flood of good wishes from my far-away community, has given me the final ingredients I needed to feel fully ready and prepared for what is to come.

Kari, Ngan, Maryline, Claire, and Yanick all joined me at our apartment. Mark kept us well-fed, bringing out appetizers periodically, and joining in on the festivities as well. Kari and Ngan braided my hair and wove in fresh flowers (so beautiful). That was followed by an amazing foot rub and nail polish, a hand massage, and then my pregnant belly was painted! Maryline started the design, and then each person added to it. My belly turned into a huge flower (my belly button was at the center of the flower), with vines curling around. Every time I laughed, the shape of the flower would change a little, almost like a face. It had a life of its own! Each person took a turn writing on my flag too, and the rest of the time was full of wonderful conversation.

Mark and I are both still glowing from the experience!

This afternoon, Kari surprised us with a blog she created especially for the blessingway! She took exceptional photos, perfectly capturing the emotions we were feeling. She designed an absolutely beautiful blog, loaded up the photos and links and such, and then sent it to me. We will be spending many happy moments gazing at the blog in the coming weeks and into the future!

Click here to see my Blessingway Blog

And so the wait for the birth begins... "Lil' g, we love you! We can't wait to meet you! You can come anytime..."


mallena said...

Oops! I thought I had commented on this, but I guess I just went to the other blog and didn't make it back here. What a neat tradition! I'm glad your dula suggested it, and that your friend posted pictures. Grandma called yesterday and invited me to write a note for your flag. I wrote it this morning. I sent it to your gmail account that you have listed on Facebook. If you didn't get it please let me know.

I hope Mark knows how to blog because we'll be expecting pictures to be posted soon after your son arrives. And no, we don't expect YOU to be posting them. :)

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