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Nature Birthday Parties and Blessing Ways

For the 8th year in a row, we are celebrating the birth of our children at the river. The river is a big part of summer life where we live. It provides a cool respite from warm summer temperatures, in a community that lacks swimming pools, air conditioning, and half the town lives off-the-grid. The river provides entertainment for children and adults alike, and our parties our a community celebration. This is not your typical children’s birthday party; adults actually outnumber the children in attendance as it takes a village…

Our first river celebration was my Blessing Way. A Blessing Way is an alternative to a baby shower, and it is based on a Navajo tradition. My midwives led our “Humboldt eclectic” ceremony, in which I was surrounded by strong women friends (the men joined us later for food and river frolicking). Each friend brought a candle and symbol of strength for the altar, which was then set up in my home for the birth. Everyone also brought a bead, which was added to a necklace that I wore during my labor. We sang songs, told a collective angel story, and wrapped ourselves together with yarn in a circle. When the yarn was broken, each friend was wearing a piece around her arm or ankle. The yarn was not to be removed until I had given birth, and each time a friend noticed their piece of yarn, they were sent positive energy and thoughts my way. Often, these pieces of yarn will fall off on their own when it is time for the mother to give birth. My hair was lovingly braided to symbolize my new role as mother, and I was treated to a rose water foot bath and massage.

Every year, we return to the same spot on the river to celebrate the birth of our children. From the blessing ways to the birthday parties, this sacred spot on my neighbor’s land allows us to commune with nature and feel oneness with our environment. Not only are we celebrating our children’s lives, but we are celebrating the earth.

I share the story of our Blessing Ways in anticipation of not only our birthday party, but of a special series next week on Eco Child’s Play. Labor of Love will be a week full of birth stories and posts on labor from a variety of viewpoints and experiences. We will also be hosting a contest for our readers who participate in the conversation. Stay tuned until Monday, June 23 for details!

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