There's nothing better to do to pass the time in the final month of pregnancy than to throw yourself a party!
This was the end result and really what it's all about. Being surrounded by the people who love you the most!
This weekend, my mom threw me a "Blessingway" and I thought I'd share some of what we did. We really believe that life passes by too quickly when we don't take time out to celebrate life's big milestones. Maybe these ideas and images will inspire some of you!
So "What is a Blessingway?" you ask? It's truly BLESSING a mother on her WAY to motherhood. It's sort of a mother-centered "shower," where you pamper, pray for and honor the mother-to-be. It's meant to bless, prepare and empower the mother and invoke God's blessing on the pregnancy, birth and new baby. I also viewed mine as a way to thank those who have been there for me most during my pregnancy and mommy-hood.
Mine was a very intimate gathering of my mom, my dear friend Jen and my two sisters-in-law (my husband's sisters).
My mom is my second-best friend and supporter, second only to Drew, my husband. If she weren't my mom, I would still want to be close friends with her!! She will be present at the birth and is very anxious to meet her third grandson!
Jen and I met through church and she's been my "pregnancy buddy," and is due in July. More than just complaining about our various pregnancy symptoms, we've been able to celebrate our pregnancy milestones together and she has faithfully come over to keep me company many times when I've needed it most...and has taken me shopping or our for Starbucks when I've needed it, too! She has become a wonderful friend and I am so glad she was able to celebrate with us.
Drew's sister, Laura, is the oldest of the sisters and we used the same midwife with her middle son, who was born just two weeks before Andrew. We have a lot in common and I adore having her for a sister. She is smart and sassy--kind of the female version of my hubby.
Sarah is the one who introduced Drew and I and has lived with us for going on 6 years. I call her "the other half of my brain." That's saying a lot these days, too. I can't honestly imagine my life without her in it and she is a tremendous blessing to our family.
So for the actual event, my mom did ask for my input for some parts but she's really the one who came up with the agenda and the "ceremony." A lot of her ideas came from
This Blessingway Book on Amazon
She wanted as many of the elements as possible to be natural (from God's creation) and that also had meaning for me.
We were going to save the feasting until the end but with two hungry pregnant women present, we ate first!! We wanted something light, healthy and delicious. The menu of curry chicken salad, fruit, a wheat roll and an iced berry-chai drink fit the bill!
Here's "the spread:"
And here's my plate. Doesn't that look scrumptious?? The drink is a mixture of strongly-brewed chai tea and berry juice. So refreshing!
My mom also made blue hard-boiled eggs. Eggs, because, well...that's how Ethan started out!! And they represent fertility, of course.
The ladies (and my niece) ready to chow down.
Once our blood sugar levels were nice and stable, we started the ceremony. First of all, my place of honor was sitting in my great-grandmother's rocking chair.
The first thing Mom did was bless everyone there by sprinkling us each with "lunar and flower infused water" (using flowers from her yard), saying "May the Lord bless you and keep you."
After that came the "smudging." Laura and Sarah were taking their turn in the above pictures. The "smudge stick" is actually sage, which smells so earthy when lit--like nature's own incense! Incense is mentioned many times in the Bible and the sage in particular is used historically to purify a space. For our purposes, the smoke was meant to protect those it brushed. Each of us held the sage up to various parts of our body, asking God to bless the words of our mouth...bless our hands to do His work...to make our hearts strong for Him...and to bless our feet to "walk worthy" of His calling.
Once we were all blessed, it came time to pamper the mother. Mom first used the infused water as a foot soak.
The idea was for me to release all my fears about my labor and birth into the water and replace them with great peace.
Sarah's job was to pull my hair back and secure the wreath of flowers (another natural element). And, hey, it's just fun.
That's one relaxed Mama.
Mom also used lavender (another natural element) foot lotion to massage my feet. Aaaahhh. Lavender is my all-time favorite scent.
Next came my favorite part: The "Mehndi" belly painting and each lady's chance to put her hands on my belly and speak a blessing over Ethan as a way to "welcome the soul of a child." Evidently many cultures "ritually prepare a woman's body for rites of passage", my passage being the one to "mother-of-two-hood."
Plus, Ethan will get to read these someday, to know what was being prayed for him, even before he was born.
Sarah started us off by painting a tree. Y'know, to go with my whole thing of "Roots & Wings." Plus we are adding to our family tree.
Then Sarah read her blessing for Ethan. We were amazed that her pre-selected verse talks about a tree and she even drew a tree on the card (all before I chose the tree for my belly art). I told ya we're in tune.
It's the same verse my mom has prayed for my father every day for over 30 years, from Psalm 1:1-3
"Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper."
I love that.
Laura added the butterfly and read her blessing.
Jen added the leaves and flowers to the branches and read her blessing.
Mom added a flower to the bottom and read her blessing.
I needed a mirror to see the final result!
Pretty neat, huh?? "Roots & Wings," indeed!!
I look like such a hippy!! :)
Then everyone laid their hands on my belly for a final prayer. I love this shot.
Then we did the "Birth-day" candle lighting. I chose blue candles because blue represents inner peace and stimulates inspiration, creativity and spiritual understanding. The shells are Coquina from St. Augustine, my favorite city.
We each lit one while saying a prayer for the birth itself, sung "Happy Birth-day," then I lit the big one and blew them out. Each lady took one votive home to light when they hear I've gone into labor, as a reminder to pray for me.
About that time, my hubby returned with Andrew and our nephews, so we let the boys blow a candle out, too.
Then...cake & coffee time!! Nothing significant about that, except that this has been my favorite cake for about 10 years! It's a white cake with raspberry filling and cream cheese icing. Oh, yeah!!
Andrew and his cousin enjoyed the cake, too.
My niece also seemed to enjoy it!!
And after that, we all just hung out and relaxed and everyone else got to get some henna body art. That one $3 cone lasted through all of us with plenty left over--I highly recommend it for your next girls-only event--it was a blast!!
My mom got this dragonfly "anklet."
Jen got this butterfly design on her foot.
Laura got a butterfly on her back.
Sarah painted this on her own foot.
And gave me a little daisy anklet. I figure I can focus on it, and remind myself of this beautiful event, when I'm pushing Ethan out!
Then Laura drew this tree (Sarah is into trees, too) on Sarah's back.
Even Andrew got a worm on his foot--he always has to be in on the action!
And here's us, all painted up!
And a close-up of our feet, including Andrew's!!
And there you have it. I really did feel blessed afterward and feel all the more empowered and peaceful for my upcoming birth. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening for me, and I hope for the ladies, too.
If you have any questions about what we did or need any additional resources, leave a comment--I'm happy to help!