I have always loved –I mean LOVED– finding out the sex of my babies during the mid-pregnancy ultrasound. As a rule, I’d go to the appointment and then immediately head to the store for my baby’s first outfit. The name would usually be determined by then -having 1 girl and 1 boy name pretty well solidified before hand. And when the technician or Ob/Gyn would turn and say, “Awh, look! It seems you’re having a ________!” I’d fly to the moon with delight!
Finding out always felt like I was able to make the next step in connection with my growing baby during pregnancy. Putting a face to a name, as it were.
But this time….we’re not finding out. And that’s been hard for me.
On top of that, I’d been keeping my pregnancy quieter than usual because I was scared of missed job opportunities. I wasn’t allowing myself to connect and celebrate this pregnancy as I had my other three and my joy felt stifled.
That’s when I decided I needed to do a baby ceremony.
Yep, we’re gettin’ a little woo-woo here, but Mamas, I think you’re going to appreciate this concept and be able to tailor it for what’s useful for you.
The Goal: Ground yourself in your pregnancy and connect with your baby. Walk into the role of mother and celebrate the life of your child.
Here’s how I did it.
Create a special space.
I used the quietness of my home office, which has a very creative and peaceful feel. I tidied the place up so I wouldn’t be distracted by the clutter, gathered items that would help me focus on this being a sacred time and sat on a cozy pillow for comfort.
I love candles. I also love tea, poetry and incense. For me, each of these contribute to creating meaning. With three lit tea candles, a jeweled box that represented the treasure of this little life inside me, a favorite stick of incense and some Rumi poetry I could soak in and note anything that resonated specifically with me during this quiet time, I created a little ceremony.
Tea has been used to create meaning for ages, and I am a firm believer in the peace that comes with a steaming cup. The hot water causes you to slow down physically, mentally and emotionally as you sip, breathing in the vapor and enjoying the flavor. The cup held in your hands, the heat radiating out, creates a sense of calm comfort I treasure.
I picked out a flowering tea (’cause it’s purdy) and a pot I could enjoy the blossom in full view, pairing it with one of my great-grandmother’s tea cups. Again, it’s about creating meaning -what’s meaningful to you.
Creating a time of honoring.
With my special items gathered in my quiet place, I sat down and stilled myself. I was intentional in everything. I put my hands on my belly and focused on connecting with this little life inside me. Gratitude and blessing, gratitude and blessing. I focused on what I was thankful for in this gift of pregnancy. I acknowledged the treasure that I was creating and would be receiving and celebrated it. I spoke blessings upon my child and shared my heart with my baby, welcoming and celebrating.
With intention, I poured a cup of tea and sipped, making it a symbolic act. Symbolic of what, heck if I know -it just felt meaningful. You don’t have to have any specific reason, just do what helps you create connection. I’m no guru, I just made something that jived with what I needed for my heart.
As I connected with my baby and celebrated their creation, I took a notecard and wrote down what was on my heart for them.
You are Loved
You are Safe
You are Beautiful.
As I repeated this and spoke it to my baby (a Baby Mama Mantra, if you will,) the feeling of connection and allowing myself to celebrate this pregnancy began to grow.
“Yes. You are my baby. I am your mama. I will love you beyond life. I will cherish you because you are mine. And I celebrate the blessing that we are to each other, the gift you are to our family, and the joy I feel in having you as my child.
I may not know who you are yet, but I do know that you are loved, you are safe and you are a beautiful soul. And that’s what I need to share with your heart and mine right in this moment.”
I opened the book of Rumi poetry and began reading in various spots until I came upon a piece that spoke to my heart. I underlined, I read it aloud. I read it aloud again.
And then I read Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day.”
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
The last two lines I wrote down for both my baby …and for myself. Mary writes that devoting an entire day to soaking up nature is exactly how she’d happily spend her “one wild and precious life.” Not building a multi-million dollar company, wearing the latest in Milan fashion, or becoming the most followed woman on Instagram. It’s what’s most meaningful to her.
This week I had my first counseling session in, hm… years. I reached a point where I needed help sorting out what felt like a heap of stinky old clothes solidified in a crusty mountain the size of Everest. How’s that for a metaphor? Totally grody.
As I shared about goals, dreams and potential, my counselor reminded me that we get to measure our success -no one else. When we decide what is meaningful to us and we focus on what our priorities are, that’s all that really matters. Sure, you could build a billion dollar corporation, be a best-selling author, co-star alongside Brad Pitt, have your own tv show, buy a house in the Hamptons -but what do you want and what’s in line with your priorities and values?
When I think about that exercise self-help folks have you do where you write your own obituary, I see my short list. Relationships and fullness of life. Sure, we all have to be responsible and pay bills -the whole #adulting thing- but that’s not the focus. It’s a means, but not the end.
And I hope that I can model this for my children in where I choose to invest my time and energies. Not on being caught up in what looks good, but focusing on what I know is right.
Whether you choose to find out your baby’s sex or keep it a surprise for their arrival, I can tell you that taking some time regularly to connect with your baby and to acknowledge and honor your pregnancy is invaluable. This time is short -don’t let it slip by without truly enjoying it and being present, Dear One.