Celebrating Hillary & Baby Fionnuala
I met Hillary when she was looking for a birth doula. I instantly loved her warmth, adventurous spirit, and the calm, graceful way she looked forward to the fast-approaching birth of her first baby. Already in her third trimester, Hillary bravely welcomed change and followed her intuition as she moved from Ireland, through Denver, and on to Seattle, all while taking exquisite care of her body and mind during the sacred final stage of pregnancy. I admired Hillary's deep trust in the process of birth, and I kept thinking how lucky her baby would be to be guided through life by such a special woman. We met again a couple times to prepare for birth both mentally and physically. I guided Hillary in accessing the nonverbal part of her brain to uncover subconscious fears about birth through meditatively creating birth imagery (a method of preparing for or processing a birth experience created by Pam England-- see "Birth Art Processing" on my site to learn and set up a session!). We also discussed fetal positioning, practiced coping techniques (such as acupressure and belly jiggling with a birth shawl), and explored Hillary's emotions, thoughts, and ideas for birth. We finished by creating a beautiful belly cast! Before she left for Washington, where she would give birth a couple weeks later, I joined Hillary and those closest to her to celebrate her initiation into motherhood with a Blessingway. (Blessingway ceremonies are rooted in Diné [Navajo] tradition. While non-native people practice them differently, we have Indigenous culture to thank for this way of revering the passage to motherhood. I encourage everyone to learn more about the many beautiful Indigenous birth and perinatal customs and philosophies in your region!) Her lovely sister and friend pampered Hillary by doing her hair (complete with a gemstone crown) and preparing a warm, scented foot bath. I drew a birth labyrinth on her belly with henna, and as it dried we helped her create affirmations to hang in her birth space. Each woman present received red ribbon to wear in solidarity with Hillary until birth, as well as a candle to light from our respective locations when she went into labor. I was honored to photograph her special day, and to be included in the sacred rituals of sisterhood and birth. On November 24, Fionnuala was born, healthy and beautiful, at home in the loving presence of her family.