A labor necklace, is a collection of "beads," or items that can be strung together on a cord/piece of string/etc that is given to the birthing mother from her closest family and/or friends. A lot of women who put together "labor necklaces" request bead contributions as blessings for their birth and to help welcome their new child. Some woman ask their friends and family who attend their baby showers to bring a "bead", or have something called a Blessingway which is like a baby shower, but rather than focusing on silly games, gifts, and cake, its more of a spiritual gathering to welcome the new baby. If my family were closer I would be all over the Blessingway, 100% hippy, sage, and moonbeams love event, but with being halfway across the country from my "spiritual family and mothers" inviting some blessings to be sent via post sounded incredibly appealing to me.
I wrote to some of the women in my family and Jason's back in California, and requested their participation in sharing a blessing bead that I can bring with me to my birth. I explained this idea of a labor necklace and how having the tangible items to hold, and look at during labor can provide a focal point to redirect the laboring mother's attention during strong contractions, and having these small, special tokens from loved ones can be a great comfort through the pains of labor. For me, this idea is a beautiful way for me to have my family close, even during this private time of going through labor, regardless of how far across the country me and my new baby are.
So one by one, I've been receiving these labor necklace contributions, and stringing them together into a powerful statement of the love that is awaiting my daughter. Looking at these "beads" to me also is a reminder of the strength that I am capable of, because of the women in my life who have sent these reminders, these blessings, and small tokens of tangible love.
After asking about the labor necklaces in my centering group, and well, being the group's, "Type A" personality who of course took it upon herself to take diligent notes from all our centering sessions and post the "minutes" on our forum, I asked if the women in our group would want to participate in a bead exchange with each other (after recapping the info about it from our session). All of the other 4 mamas said they were interested, so I organized for us to bring beads to our next session (next Thursday), and our group's midwife assistant (Michelle) also said she wanted to participate, which is so awesome! Going through all of these classes, and sessions together have really brought us together along this journey and if nothing else remind us that the 5 of us are not alone. All of us are first time moms, and many of us also regularly go to the yoga classes together which feels so great to have this kind of familiarity and sense of community. I feel so thankful to have this kind of support available to me, because of the Birth Center, and knowing that if I need it, pushing myself to get out and attend some of the post natal classes will provide me with the friends I will crave and need as a new mom, surrounded by other new moms. No matter how far my family may be, there is such a strong, loving, supportive community here for me, if I just get out and welcome it in- just knowing that its there relaxes me. So much love for the Birth Center!!!
So, since I've had a couple requests to share my labor necklace once pieces have been received... here are some pics. I also made these little gift bags for my centering group out of old newspapers that I usually just recycle. I think they turned out really sweet, it was my first time constructing them, and had a lot of fun with it. Definitely never going to buy a gift bag again, totally just going to make my own! I got each lady the same bead, and hope they enjoy them!
Here's a good shot of the tiny gift bags (they are only 2 inches tall):
These are my labor bead gifts to my centering ladies - Handmade ceramic rose beads from Peru (from Tesoros - my Office's retail shop):
Form left to right (small silver tube beads are from my beading kit to space them out, as well as the silver/turquoise beads around the abalone on the left): Beach abalone shells (mom), raw Turquoise piece, Cat charm, (both Sandy), Cranberry bean (Keren), Zombie's old dog tag (my Mama dog!), small vial of big river beach sand (My mom sent the sand from my home town to me years ago - I think when I went to college, I put some in a tiny vial), Red I think coral? bead (Sandy), Evil eye for protection (I bought from my office's retail shop), Amber and turquoise bead (Sandy), Celtic knot and amethyst charm (Aunt June), Raw amber bead (Sandy), My mom's hospital bracelet from her first birth (Mom- from birthing my sister), and a jalapeño charm from my husband, the lover of all things spicy. Also a large silver diaper pin from my mom.
Still Awaiting a couple more additions before I attach the end clasp, and there are a couple items from my own grandmothers that have both passed away that I want to include, though I already feel such a calming, soothing, strengthening power from holding and looking at these special tokens that I'm incredibly grateful for. Endless gratitude to me and my baby's moms, aunts, and grand-moms, so many thanks for your contributions, and I'm looking forward to bringing these blessings with me to my birth! I look forward to sharing this necklace with Jocelyn when she's older and telling her about the power and love of each of the women who have contributed to making her birth story full of love (regardless of what may come during labor), and why she is so lucky to have each and every one of you in her life.