Last autumn, my close friend was due with her first baby, so I offered to throw her a baby shower as is the custom in the States. Little did I know, baby showers aren’t as common here in England so when the invites went out, there was some confusion. Additionally, I later found out that in Estonia, where my friend is from, it’s considered bad luck to have any sort of celebration or gift before baby arrives. Luckily, my friend was more than happy to participate in my funny tradition and hopefully, she felt supported and celebrated as a soon-to-be mom.
Isn’t it funny how differently things are celebrated depending on your location? I am so grateful to be an American expat in England as there are so many rich traditions here that I have come to love and plan to continue even if we are no longer living in this country. Life would be pretty bland and boring if we all lived the same. So I was equally excited and intrigued when Bobbie invited me to photograph her Mother Blessing. I had heard of the idea but never actually attended one so wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ll let the photos do the talking but suffice it to say, I may be foregoing baby showers for Mother Blessings from here on out.
The focus of the ceremony was on Bobbie and supporting her as she prepared to become a mother of two. Jo Gough, of Nurtured Journey in Cambridge, lead the ceremony while also painting a beautiful, bespoke henna design on Bobbie’s pregnant belly. Guests were invited to write words of wisdom or well wishes on seeded paper which would then be planted and enjoyed by Bobbie’s family. Everyone also brought a small token or gift that symbolized the gift of motherhood for Bobbie to keep and focus on during labour.
I could go on and on about the thoughtful details that were included throughout the day. But I was most struck by what a close-knit group of women this was and how they had a genuine desire to support Bobbie in her motherhood journey. Most of the women were birth workers in some form (think doulas and midwives) so you can imagine that the topics of conversation were very open and honest! There was even an impromptu lactation consultation that occurred at one point- as you do on a typical Monday afternoon.
As I was editing this gallery, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. For some people, this may be way out of their comfort zone. Yet for others, and certainly for Bobbie, this was exactly the way she hoped to celebrate her upcoming birth. There were so many elements of her native Hawaii and her love for the ocean woven throughout the ceremony. I would have never guessed I would find the Aloha spirit in England but I certainly did (and I have some amazing Macadamia Nut and Pineapple tea to prove it). So tell me, do you have any unusual traditions or holidays that you celebrate? Would you consider a Mother Blessing in lieu of a baby shower? I love the idea and think it’s particularly clever if you already have all the necessary baby items. What a great way to honour and encourage a new mom!