There are few things more comforting for a big-bellied pregnant mama than a whole room full of big-bellied pregnant mamas. One Tuesday evening per month, a group of us gather around a table and share a meal. I must say, there is just something so lovely about each of us inching our growing bodies as close as we can to the potluck table and filling our plates with the various homemade goodies with an unspoken and very much spoken understanding that this is a special time in our lives. There’s a lot to discuss about this enormous transition we are all going through. Lucky, lucky me to have found the amazing community resource that is Alma Midwifery, here in Portland, OR.
This particular group of us all plan to give birth — some of us for the 2nd time, and most of the group for the 1st time — either at home or in the warm and most inviting private rooms at Alma’s stand-alone birthing center sometime in March, April, or May. That makes us the “Spring Mamas.” And besides just being pregnant (which I’ve found to be a great common denominator among all different kinds of women), we all share in the experience of having chosen the midwifery model of care. This, I have found, is a source of instant connection, commonality, and great bonding. With a shared paradigm from which to draw, much to learn from each other in the way of resources and ideas, and the vulnerability that this sacred process beholds, this is community-building at its very best.
This monthly potluck ritual is so much more than just a few women gathered for a meal, I find. And much of that is due to the physical space in which we gather — Alma’s Movement and Education Space in SE Portland — where, I think anyone could make themselves comfortable. There’s a gorgeous bathroom, a clean, shared kitchen stocked with herbal teas and jars of honey, soft chairs and pillows everywhere, and a bulletin board with reminders about all kinds of juicy offerings happening in the same space throughout the month. It gives the sense, you are invited. You are welcome. What I love most, though, are the bits and pieces of art scattered around the space that honor the uniqueness and beauty of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. There are beautifully painted bodycasts, paintings of babies and mothers nursing, and many images that celebrate the rawness and realness of birth. I am humbled by these images, and specifically, by the powerful reminder they offer about the work that all of these women’s bodies are doing now, and the work their bodies will do as they bring their babies into the world. I’m humbled, too, by the people — partners and husbands and midwives and doulas — who have made it their passion and their business to make it so, and specifically, to make it so on the mother’s (and nature’s) terms. It isn’t easy work for anyone involved, but it’s sacred, and this space pays homage to that more than any I’ve had the honor to visit.
People often ask me — what are the reasons to prepare for a home birth? Why do it? And I want to say, among so many things, this is why — the community, the honoring, the nourishing, and the attitude of both realness and celebration around what many describe as the biggest transition of one’s life. I am honored, truly, to be a part of this group of Spring Mamas — to be growing community together in this way, and to be sharing in this magical, complex, and wild ride.
P.S. I leave for vacation today! I’ll be gone from this space for about a week and will see you back here on Wednesday January 23rd. Have a great week!