Most of the time I listened. I was a quiet unbiased and supportive presence, and allowed her to have the space she needed to feel what she needed to feel. But I also offered her henna. Magical, pampering, restorative belly blessing henna.
here's what happened:
It’s elegant and simple to look at. But complicated to hand-draw.
A spread out on her bed, propped up with pillows and nestled in with a glass of water and all our supplies needed close at hand. She made herself comfortable and I prepped her belly. I started with some guidelines to set the pattern, but I also told her that since it was hand-drawn it would morph a little bit and it would not be completely even. She accepted the ‘organic’ qualities of a hand-drawn design and said it would suit her just fine. She called her sister and chatted on the phone about her belly, her henna, and her pregnancy, pulling in family members who were far away. At one point a friend chimed in through Skype to watch some of the henna being done. Another friend was there in the room to photograph the design. She surrounded herself with positive and supportive people.
I love doing moms bellies because they need to relax and stay in one place in order to get their henna. You can’t do dishes or laundry while having your belly painted. In late pregnancy, you need to start looking inward and taking care of yourself and taking that precious time to rest. Henna facilitates that resting. In fact, henna is so good at it that women have been receiving henna in the last months of pregnancy since 6,000 years ago. By taking time out to have her henna applied, A was continuing a tradition about six thousand years old. A relaxed, lay back, and actually caught a quick nap while I worked on her design and her son shifted about under my hands.
That evening when she surrounded herself with her friends and family and only positive things, she also managed to get back in touch with her own body a little bit. She had been telling me that she had never felt a Braxton-hicks contraction and didn’t know what they were, but I could feel them periodically rippling under her skin. “Did you feel that one? It’s happening now” She took a moment and tuned in and was able to recognize the sensations.
As her doula and her henna artist, I cannot make her life easier or stop the universe throwing bad things at her. But I can help her work through it, and give her an opportunity to relax and take care of herself.
Doula at Sisterhood Wellness Collective, Toronto