Blessingway, is it a new age thing or simply the way what the baby shower should really be about?
Let's hear from 4 women who went to a Blessingway recently about their own experience.
Stephanie (Chief of Creativity, Luxe Nova)
Having grown up in England, to me, baby shower is a “US” thing. I have been to some in Hong Kong - and as a woman who has little chance of entering into a motherhood in the near future, attending these baby showers was more for showing my moral support to my dear friends.
However, regardless how creative the “party organizer” can be to make sure that the baby shower is a fun party, there is always something that makes me feel disconnected, something that seems to be missing. What appears to be a celebration just seems to be incomplete.
When Corinne came to me and told me about Blessingway, my intuition said that it should be what a baby shower all about. But from the “marketing” perspective, how can we convince people to give up the type of party where you get all the goodies for your new born and opt to something that is far more personal, intimate and authentic?
Then the miracle came – my friend, Carrie, who just gave birth to twins, is pregnant again! And what’s more exhilarating is that number 3 was conceived naturally!
Knowing Carrie of her fun, loving and adventurous spirit, I assumed that she may be open to something more holistic. So I asked her if she would be opened to Blessingway at my studio. And she replied affirmatively “that sounds really lovely. Was thinking that I wanted to have some sort of celebration for this baby!”
And it was the best baby shower that I have ever been - the openness, warmth, love and appreciation that were flowing around in the room was just beautiful.
Carrie (The Guest of Honour)
My husband, Ian, and I have beautiful 16-month old twins, J and M, born in May 2014. They were IVF babies, and it was a 4-year journey filled with miscarriages, sadness and failures, from the time we started "not not-trying" to the time they finally entered our lives! So, as you can imagine, I reveled in every moment of my pregnancy with J and M, constantly touching my belly and finding awes in their kicks and the fact that my blood nourished them and the whooshing of my vessels soothed them. What a beautiful experience - especially for me, as I was "certain" I would never experience this again!
Well, fast forward to February 2015 - to the biggest surprise of our lives. I found myself, unexpectedly, shockingly, joyfully looking at another positive pregnancy test. Could I be pregnant again?! How did that even happen?! (Well, actually I know exactly how it happened but no need to make you blush!)
From the beginning, this pregnancy was different. I was a part-time working mom of young twins, without a full time nanny, living overseas in one of the world's busiest cities, with a pilot husband who was often on the road. Although my joy was no less than with the twins, I didn't have those long moments to revel in and bond with this miracle baby. I am loath to say that #3 was forgotten - or perhaps "pushed aside" is a better phrase. Hours and even entire days would pass where I would be so caught up in life's chaos that I actually would forget I was pregnant.
So, it became clear to me very early on that I needed to celebrate this life, to honour this bond between mother and child, somehow. A baby shower was out of the question; we had all the gear we needed. Plus, I have spent this last year trying to reduce materialistic things in our lives as a form of simplifying. So ... what to do?
Like a beacon of light, my friend, Steph, owner of Luxe Nova, appeared with the solution! She suggested a Blessingway to be hosted at her studio. In her exact words, "it isn't for everyone but let me know what you think" - to me it was perfect. No gifts, no games, just a celebration of the bond between mother and child, and the strength of womanhood.
She introduced me to her colleague Corinne, a doula, who agreed to take me on as a case study and plan the Blessingway for me. First order of business: invite my nearest and dearest. From there, Corinne and Steph got down to the nitty and gritty of planning, with assistance from my friend Hester, who appreciates like no other how food motivated I am (especially when pregnant!).
When I arrived at my Blessingway on Sept 20, it was a hot and sticky day, and although I was excited, I was feeling a bit frazzled as per my norm (I tend to operate at a million miles a minute). I was immediately relieved to find that the venue was cool and almost permeating calmness and contentedness. As the guest of honour, I was given a fresh laurel to wear, which was just lovely. As my friends began to arrive, a potluck/food table became increasingly more expansive, with healthy snacks such as hummus, to popcorn from my favourite popcorn shop (decorated with "ready to pop!" logos by Hester - an adorable touch!), to cat shaped marshmallows for hot chocolate.
It was an eclectic bunch of friends I invited. In the end, 8 people were able to attend, including Steph and Corinne. A perfect number; quality not quantity. Additionally, my sister-in-law Sally from the States participated in spirit by sending a beautiful message along with Corinne.
One of my favourite parts of the Blessingway was how well my friends intermingled - in attendance were two of my veterinary colleagues, a twin mom friend, three racing friends, Steph, and Corinne. Three women had children of their own; the rest did not. Some were born and raised in HK, others transplanted from other countries like me. In situations like these, it is so easy to speak only to those you know, but then how do you expand your circle? Everyone talked to everyone and I could not have been more delighted!
One of our first activities was the bead bracelet. Corinne had asked each person to bring a bead that had some significance to us as friends or to me, to prepare a bracelet I could wear when giving birth. This was incredibly meaningful - meaningful beyond words. Not only did every single person remember, but each and every bead was so beautifully Carrie-ish. To see myself summed up so kindly, so generously, in a piece of jewellery designed by women I love and respect - such joy! In other words, this bracelet will absolutely be with me to provide strength when I give birth.
A short aside here - the day after the Blessingway, I showed the bracelet to my son. He was interested, in an "oh I'd like to eat that" way. But when I showed it to my daughter, she spent ages delicately cooing over and touching each individual bead. It was as if she understood there was a story and femininity behind each one.
After this ice breaking activity, there was time for pampering (a hand and foot massage for me!), girly chit-chat, snacking, a little champagne, and story sharing. Sally's overseas message was a tearjerker for the whole crowd. A few people did bring meaningful small gifts for me and #3, and my friend Elina even brought moss all the way from Finland to represent the purity of motherhood, which I have since framed.
I would happily give details endlessly, but so as not to give EVERYTHING away about the experience, suffice it to say it was perfect. When I met up with the hubs after the Blessingway, he said it was the most relaxed he had seen me in months - and I couldn't have agreed more!
I guess at this point the most important thing I do want to convey, however, is which Blessingway message was closest to my heart.
I like to consider myself a strong independent woman, and I believe women and mothers in general are amazing creatures. Empowered, unique, mountain conquering, fierce, whatever word you like. And that was certainly a message from this event. But for me, it was this gathering of women all simply stating something that we don't say or hear enough - I love you, I appreciate you, I am thankful to have you in my life - that was so meaningful.
So to my dear child and my dear friends who spent Sunday Sept 20 celebrating with me and #3 - thank you for this wondrous day. I love you. I appreciate you. I am so thankful to have you in my life.
Now go forth and conquer some mountains, you bad ass ladies.
Hazel (one of Carrie’s friends)
Carrie's Blessingway was really one of the most genuine and lovely of events and a great alternative to a traditional baby shower. The afternoon focused on Carrie as a friend and mother. It was really touching to hear everyone's stories and thoughts and what they had to share with Carrie. It made it a very personal occasion. We shared good food and conversation, and we gave Carrie a chance to relax and be looked after. We let her know that her closest friends are there to support her as she enters the final weeks of her pregnancy, and that feels to me what a baby shower should really be all about.
Many thanks an again for a lovely afternoon.
Corinne (Birth Doula & the first and only known Blessingway Organizer in HK)
I was introduced to the Mother’s Blessingway the first time in 2012 while living in Rio de Janeiro. Back then I wondered why I had never heard about this celebration before. It was such a genuine and joyful way to support a woman during her final weeks before giving birth. I was hooked and made it one of my missions to spread the word about it wherever I went. As a Birth Doula, it makes so much sense to me why we would shower the women in our community who are about to give birth with our love and care. A famous midwife, Ina May Gaskin, once said: “If a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess during birth, someone isn’t treating her well”. For me the Blessingway is a Pregnant Goddess treatment par excellence. For a couple of hours the mother-to-be, her wisdom and power to create and give life are honored.
It was beautiful to see how it all came together for Carrie, starting with a chat during which I asked her some questions on what she might like as a main activity for her Blessingway. Carrie chose the “Love Bracelet” activity. Besides this, she didn’t know what else we would prepare. She gave me her list of friends in Hong Kong and abroad and I started to get in touch with them. I introduced them to the Blessingway, told them what we would do and how they could prepare for the afternoon.
When it finally all came together I was touched by the contribution of each woman. Hearing Carrie say that what she valued most about the afternoon was “the gathering of women all simply stating something that we don't say or hear enough - I love you, I appreciate you, I am thankful to have you in my life” warmed my heart.
My hope is that more and more women in Hong Kong and all around the world will come to experience this soulful gathering.