The night before I am feeling a little strange, nervous in a way that I wasn’t even before labour. Not sure why exactly. From what I have read and heard about this old Asian and South American tradition for women after they give birth, I know that physically it will be amazing to be all wrapped and pampered. It is exactly what I have been needing. I guess I am scared of an energetic closure which will mark the end of pregnancy and labour. All of it was so powerful and big, and it still is so present somehow. I realise that this stage is over, and that’s the way it needs to be, but I also don’t want that powerful primal presence to disappear. I don’t want to forget our baby daughter’s arrival story. I do think about it a lot.
Next afternoon, my two female ceremony companions arrive to our home. They are both midwives and one of them was present during our home birth. We sit down for a cup of tea together with some good chocolate and chat about my labour, remembering and going over the details again and again. About how beautifully real it all was and how much I needed to be alone and in the dark (like all birthing mammals), and how I claimed that space by hiding in a pitch black shower during the final stage of labour. About the power of it all and how it still somehow echoes in my body. I’m so pleased when they say how much they like my birth story and how special it is.
We move upstairs to our bedroom. I can feel my cold feet slowly beginning to warm up as I enjoy a four hand full body massage and the luscious smell of coconut oil. My favourite. Gently and lovingly being with myself and two of my soul sisters and birth keepers. We chat about women’s things, laughing, remembering, connecting, sharing stories. This light gentle chatter – the way I have only ever experienced women connect – is one of my favourite reasons for being a female. My belly is getting slowly rubbed – the place where magic happens. It is not as flat as it used to be before the pregnancy, but I no longer want it to be. I like how it feels, like I am back to living in it alone. It felt very empty and lonely during the first few weeks after our baby was born. I fall quiet when the massage moves to my face. Then lazily flip onto my belly to keep enjoying this magical touch, this womanly nurture and nourishment.
The next step is the closing ceremony. I lie on my back with my eyes closed while my body is being squeezed tight with a long shawl pulled to opposite directions by the two women. Stage by stage. It starts with the feet, and for a brief moment I have a sensation of nostalgia, of sadness, of the start of the end. I am aware of two tears that roll out of my eyes. But I feel equally peaceful because I know that the time has come. Then my lower legs, then my thighs. Slowly, very very slowly. With perfect silence and awareness of it all being for me, moments to honour each and every body part for my pregnancy and birth. My legs were so strong during the 23 hours of labour, most of which I spent standing and swaying. The sensation is of being hugged tightly, of being scooped up and held. For a really long time. When we reach the hips and pelvis it feels like a special moment. The crowning moment, the whole purpose of the ceremony. To be present and to thank my body for being the gate between the worlds, the vessel that allowed our baby to enter this world. I’m waiting to feel sad or get emotional. But it feels peaceful instead. It doesn’t feel like an end. A pause rather. A closure for now or until next time. Not something that I need to worry about at the moment.
Moving on to chest and the memories come back of my heart exploding with love when I pressed my wet sweet smelling baby against me seconds after she was born. Awe! Relief. Culmination. Overwhelming surprise at something so obvious – a baby at the end of a pregnancy!!! A final hug is to my head – thoughts stop for a moment and it just feels done. Whatever IT is. I bask in this special moment just shared, all snuggly covered with blankets.
Third and final step is a hot bath. Infused with many magical herbs – eucalyptus, chamomile, olive, horsetail, mallow, rosemary from the mountains next to our house. The infusion is so strong that the whole bath looks like it’s filled with herbal tea. I get ushered inside all covered with towels and slowly dip myself into the hot, blissfully smelling liquid. I promise to myself that I will have herbal baths more often. Soaking. So comfortably naked with my two space keepers sitting nearby. I am brought a cup of hot herbal tea, even though the bath water smells so good I joke I could just drink it directly. I am red faced, hot inside and out. The pores are so open that I feel like I am made of hot herbal water. My skin feels smooth, nourished with coconut oil.
We stay like this for a while, chatting. About women. Births. Breastfeeding. Just this space with no discomfort, just pure feminine energy. While we talk about breastfeeding, I hear our baby daughter beginning to whimper downstairs and feel the milk let down. Except in my case it’s always like mini fountains. It’s a sign that time is slowly up. She is hungry and little can be done to postpone her meal. I get covered with lots of towels and am walked into the bed. I’m so hot and so soaked. The bed is where I remain for the rest of the evening with more tea. My two lovely ladies strongly kiss my cheeks and leave after nearly three hours together. My daughter joins me in bed, although takes a little while to settle. She has recently started having intense moments of adoring and wanting to be next to her papá (I adore him too, and not only because as I write this he is making me a sandwich, following my very specific instructions).
It is closed. It feels like it. In my mind, body and soul. Until further notice. It was such a gift of feminine nurturing, of being fussed over and wrapped up and pampered, honoured and loved. And the only thing I need to do in exchange is to keep this magical chain going. To participate in the ceremony of honouring the power and miracle of another woman’s body. Who wants to be next?Tags: empowerment gratitude home birth power