Below you will see a gallery, of a beautiful traditional mothers blessing ceremony. These are just a few of the amazing moments I was able to document for this family.
This family for me, clearly represents the standard us birth workers strive for in our communities. An entire family coming together to honor, support, feed, clothe, and love on the mother.
They had decorated the space with cookies and flowers and chairs wrapped with the mothers traditional rebozo wraps. The event began with a big lunch, where everyone helped cook and prepare the dishes and drinks and meals. Lemonade was made by the eldest daughter, hibiscus tea was served for health and prosperity. It was a unique and beautiful experience, getting to peek into the way another person's family comes together in the kitchen, and at the table.
The family flew in a traditional midwife who stayed with them in their home during the weeks before, during, and after her labor. She cared for this mother night and day, feeding her traditional foods meant to strengthen not only her body- but her spirit as well. She helped with her home and her children, and shared the space with her so intentionally. She brought cacao beans for this ceremony, to make a traditional drink for the mother to be, and all who would attend to her during this journey. First the beans were roasted, and ohhhhh.
The scent... the entire house wafted with the deep and rich smell of chocolate. It was mouthwatering, warming, and so wholesome. I wanted to take that feeling everywhere with me.
After roasting, the beans were brought to the table where everyone participated in cracking them open, and discarding the shells. It was such a fun process, and I loved being a part of it. When I tasted one of them, it was bitter but so so good. A very unique chocolate flavor. The shelled beans were taken back to the kitchen, and put in a blender with various other ingredients.
Herbs and all sorts of beautiful things were added to a large pot along with what was blended, and then left to simmer on the stove, warming the home and the hearts within it.
Soon, the mood in this space became softer, more serious and full. Everyone was gathered in a circle on the floor- filling up the room and surrounding the mother to be, her husband, and their children. Everyone went around and shared beautiful memories, shared hopes, well wishes, and prayers for the mother to hear. There were many moments of tears, and so many heartfelt sentiments. Each person was there for a specific reason. Each of them listened well, and took their moment to share all of their love and reasons with her.
Then we all help space, soaking up the midwife's spun stories and shared wisdoms. She passed out cacao beans to sample. I listened carefully, and picked up what I could from my limited knowledge of Spanish. Some of the stories and wisdoms were interpreted to English by the mothers doula and friend. The midwife spoke of how they prepared this drink in Mexico, and how it was thought to be one of the main reasons why their mothers did not hemorrhage nearly as often after birth. She told us how they would feed this drink to the mother many times, how it would nourish the body, and how anyone who drank it- would also find something stirring in their soul. It was to wake something up, to heal something, and often times you would find people crying or becoming deeply emotional and tender after drinking it. The drink was passed around in mugs, and everyone partook. Unfortunately I had to forgo the drink myself, due to a cinnamon allergy. But the effect was contagious. It was truly a magical moment.
One of the other stories I remember, was a reflection of how the mother is like the moon, and the father is like the sun. They revolve in turn, pulling closer because of their differences. Opposites that create balance and harmony in a birth space and in a home. She spoke of how the moon pulls the waters within us, and how intentional it is that the birth is often in the night. How beautiful and sacred these stories were, and how they were meant to be shared.
They went on to write affirmations and notes for the mother to have. They created a mothers necklace, where each person chose a handful of beads and presented them to the mother, telling her in turn why they chose those specific ones for her. She strung them on a necklace and rested in her husbands arms.
The midwife then pulled out stethoscopes, and showed the family how to listen for the babies heartbeat, she even showed the children how to listen to their own heartbeats. There was so much joy and laughter and awe. She showed us how baby was positioned, and gave the mother a massage for good measure.
As the ceremony drew to a close, candles were passed out, and a ball of yarn was presented. The string was wrapped around each persons wrist, as many times as they intuitively felt was right. That person would pass the ball to the next person who would do the same, until all of the people were connected by this string in a circle.
Then the mother lit her own candle, and each person lit their candle from the mothers. This was symbolic for sharing the mothers space and energy, as the flame was shared with each of us. Once all the words had been said, the candles were blown out together and the string between each person was cut. The person next to you would help you tie your own section of the string onto your wrist. The intentions behind these moments are beautiful. They represent how we are tied to this mother, we will cut the string when the mother has birthed, when the babies cord has been cut, in symbol of our tie to her. Every time you remember the string on your wrist, you will pray for the mother or send her love. When she is in labor, you will light your candle again for her and for the new soul she is birthing.
Some of my favorite moments from this day were between the midwife and the mother. The midwife looked at the mother so adoringly, honoring every part of this journey with her. She took time to write affirmations and choose beads along with everyone else present. It was such a unique and amazing experience to see a midwife so invested in a family, so fully present and emotionally connected. It is something I wish I saw more often in birth, that connection between provider and mother. How much easier it must be, to birth under such a bond of trust. <3
It was such an honor not only to document this day, but to be invited into this space and into these traditions of culture and intention. I will forever be grateful to know this mother and her amazing family.