Having a baby shower was not for me. I toyed with the idea, was encouraged by some, and even got as far as setting a date and venue. But the thing is, despite me being half American and having baby showers in my blood, I could not justify the fact that in having a shower I was essentially asking for presents. Being also half British it seemed there was something terribly vulgar about it. Indeed my spiritual and soulful inclinations were not content that the first event I would ever hold for my unborn child was one so very centered on fuelling rampant consumerism.
As a result I quit my baby shower plans and started to think of an alternative. This was when I found the wonderful, slightly hippy event that has come to be known as a Blessingway Ceremony. A Blessingway is loosely based around ancient Navajo female tradition and ritual, though has been broadly interpreted by a generation of women who may wear moccasins, but, only as part of a fashion trend and who would prefer pink frosted cupcakes to signify closure of a ritual to the latter day alternative of smoking a peace pipe.
A Blessingway ticks many of the boxes of a baby shower. It's a gals event only. We all gather together under one roof, food and drink are partaken of and afterward much chatter and gossip indulged. The massive and most important difference however is that no gifts are requested or exchanged. The only thing I requested my females bring to me was a blessing, a candle and a bead.
Here is where the ritual averse amongst you might switch off, but let me assure you, the girls I invited to the Blessingway are not soulful hippy trippy divas like me. They are normal, everyday ladies whose idea of ritual most likely extends only to their daily cleanliness and beauty routine. Yet despite this, they all turned up, they all came well prepared to read aloud in front of a group, and they did it because, well because they are clearly awesome and they sincerely care. This is just the first blessing I received that day.
Once all the women were gathered the most important thing to undertake was the blessing ceremony itself. I kept it fairly informal and we went round the group reading out blessings that are aimed at blessing the path of my baby into the world, but also celebrating my leap into motherhood. Some of these were written personally for me, others were sourced from favorite poems or quotes. Either way each reading was hugely meaningful and heartfelt, far more than I think anyone expected. My mother sobbed her way through her reading and when I turned to view the room, there was not a dry eye or tissueless hand in the house. I haven't seen my Mum cry since... well probably since the eighties. To say that the blessings were emotional is probably a little bit of an underestimation on my part.
Alongside the blessings we all lit a candle each. Each candle was taken home with the lady it came with and when I go into labour I will send a text asking them to light the candle and send me some happy thoughts. This continues the Blessingway magic right up to when the power of it is needed and helps me to feel supported whilst undertaking the physical challenges of birth.
Before the gossiping and eating commenced there was only one last 'ritual' to perform. I had asked everyone to bring me a bead. I collected them all up, a real crazy, colourful assortment of course, and had my stepmum string them up for me. Each bead represents the spirit of the Woman who gave it to me, and I will pack these in my hospital bag and wear the beads whilst birthing. The nicest thing about the beads is that I have been able to request beads from family and friends far afield who were unable to attend. As such I am currently awaiting beads from the US, Tokyo and Australia. When I go into labour I will literally have the whole world at my back!
As far as I am concerned blessings and beads beat bunting and baby gifts any day! Whilst I am of course not averse to gifts being bought, it's only right that they are given without request. All a Blessingway does is asks for a little love, and whilst I only expected a little I actually got a whole lot. I feel so lucky to have such beautiful friends and family who are willing to submit to a little ritual to show they care. Baby's way has been thoroughly blessed and my heart is literally singing with the kindnesses and warmth I received that day.