…Thank You For Being My Community.
“Childbirth is an experience in a woman’s life that holds the power to transform her forever. Passing through these powerful gates—in her own way—remembering all the generations of women who walk with her… She is never alone.”
When I was pregnant with my first child back in 2006, I wanted some form of ceremony or ritual to help celebrate this life transition. I didn’t know anything about Blessingways, and really felt like there was a lack of culture and ritual about such a magical and transformative time in a young woman’s life.
I was surprised one Sunday when I walked into a friend’s home and it was filled with my friends. They threw me a traditional baby shower where we shower the mother with gifts for the baby. This was great and so helpful, adding some of the necessities of baby care and even some cute toys. I am truly grateful for all the women who came to give their gifts to my baby, and for the thoughtfulness of the host to do this for me.
Yet somehow, this didn’t seem like enough to mark my passage into motherhood. I feel we have lost the traditions that once honoured people making huge transitions in life, and the transition into motherhood is probably the biggest one a woman could ever make. Where was all the motherly advice from those who walked before me? Where was the support in making it through the birth process as a powerful and confident mother? As much as I had people around me, I felt I was making this transition alone.
I was a guest at a Blessingway earlier this summer and discovered that this was the ritual that I felt I was missing. All the women in the room introduced themselves, how they knew the pregnant mom, and something inspiring or special about her or their relationship. We went around again and shared motherly wisdom from each of our own experiences of birth and motherhood. We strung beads onto a necklace while giving our blessings to the mom and baby. The necklace was intended for her to wear in labour, to bring her all the energy and positive wishes of the women who were supporting her.
I knew instantly this is what I wanted to mark my transition into motherhood of my third child. When planning my Blessingway and choosing the guests I was to invite, it made me sad at the lack of womanly community I felt in my life. I do not have any family where I live, and although I have incredible friends, we are all so busy with our lives that it is sometimes months before we really connect. I found myself suddenly craving that connection with other women.
On September 18th I was the guest of honour at my own Blessingway. It was fantastic and what an honour and blessing it truly was! My friend opened her home to all of us women, losing wine glass and a white rug to some red merlot. A local midwife who I know through the birthing community, drove an hour from her cottage, where she left her guests just to attend. She isn’t even my midwife but she wanted to show her love and support. All the words of support and encouragement really helped to fill that space where I felt a community of women was missing in my life.
On September 23, at 38 weeks pregnant, I went camping with some great friends. Feeling the connection to these great women again was empowering. On Sunday and Monday, after returning home, I felt on top of the world. I felt strong, powerful, and like a pregnant goddess with my Buddha belly.
Then the news of my plans to live stream my birth hit the media. The whirlwind of camera crews, live radio broadcasts, and news reporters hijacked the past week of my life. It has been great because I have been able to share the message, and due to the power of the internet, people are hearing it around the world. Simply put, birth is normal and women are powerful. I have to be honest and say that it has been stressful. When reporters ask questions like “How are you going to feel knowing that thousands of people will be watching you?”, “What if you have a stillbirth?” or “What if things go wrong?”, it does make you stop and question yourself. You question all the positive thoughts, the confidence you have in yourself, and the process of birth. I guess this is another example of how others are willing to dump their fears and insecurities on you when you are pregnant, instead of giving you love and encouragement. With that said, the media has been wonderful, respectful and encouraging. They have been great help in the sharing this important message.
On Thursday, I was asked to speak at Carleton University for a reproductive rights class. Speaking to a university class for young women was so inspiring and invigorating. This is the group of women I feel like I can empower to know they are strong and capable.
The last week has most definitely been a journey with ups and downs and I have to say, it has concluded on the highest up I can imagine. My favourite quote of all time is by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I have been supporting women through pregnancy and birth for a third of my life now. The part I love about it is inspiring and empowering women to know that they can do it, and that they are powerful. The media frenzy has reinforced in a way my recent feelings of playing it small, helping only handfuls of women I have spent time with personally. Right now there are over 5000 people around the world planning on tuning in online. I feel like I’m finally playing big, serving the world, helping women see what I hope will be an easy, natural home birth.
This brings me back to the connection with the community I was missing in my life. That has now come full circle. As a result of the past week, I have now created in my life a circle of support that spans the globe. The hundreds of encouraging and positive comments and emails that have been pouring in are overwhelming. From the mother of four in Nova Scotia, to the group of nursing students, to the kind words from New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Singapore; I thank you all for your kind words and support. I do not feel as though I will be giving birth with an audience of spectators. I feel like I will be giving birth with a circle of supporters, banding around me, protecting my sacred space, and sending volumes of positive and loving energy to me and my baby. Unlike my first birth, I do not feel like I am making this transition alone; I am making it as part of our global community. What an amazing way to give birth.