My husband and I recently graduated summa cum laude (not really) from our hippie birth class, which consisted of roughly 15 hours of natural birth prep, mostly really helpful (occasionally kind of terrifying) advice on what to expect, pain relief techniques (the class was 100% worth every penny and every second for instilling Michael with some quality massage skills), and… I’ll try not to gag… sappy, sentimental projects.
One of our little projects for the final day of class was to assemble a “birth bundle.” The idea was we were supposed to include something that reminded us of our inner lady strength, something that made us think of our partner, and something that made us think of our little one, all wrapped up in something that meant something to us.
I figured I’d just B.S. my way through this, like I had through the other sappy, sentimental projects, but the little bundle and all the meaning I ascribed to it (what started as B.S. somehow became very, very real) actually ended up melting my heart. Here’s what it was:
For Lady Strength: Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. She is the very definition of badass and female. Markham was a non-conformist, doing things the way she wanted to do them in a time when that type of brazen feminism was hardly the norm. She also wrote some truly wonderful things.
“Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from the distance. The cloud clears as you enter it. I have learned this, but like everyone, I learned it late.”
^ Talk about a quote that embodies everything there is to embody about birth and parenting!
For All the Partner Feels: Michael’s “Team Blagan” tee. Not only does it smell like him, it reminds me of the moment I knew for absolute certain that he was my forever. (Awww!) My vaulting partner, Blake, and I (hence, Blagan) were competing at the World Championships in Le Mans, France. It was a cool 110 degrees and 95% humidity. The vaulting arena was designed like a greenhouse– glass windows, glass ceiling, and only one tiny door for ventilation (and of course no air conditioning, because France). While Blake and I did our thing– be it training, prepping or actually competing– Michael was there, present, helpful, loving, calm, and sweating like the rest of us. Blake and I came away with the Bronze. And I came away knowing this Michael character was going to be my partner for life.
For the Little One: A onesie from the Kristensens, our friends in Denmark. This was the first gift we got for the little one, and when I pulled it out of the wrapping paper, I spontaneously scrunched my face into a sickeningly happy smile-pout and made that whale noise little pre-teens make when they see something cute. I couldn’t help it. She’s going to be so little! That, combined with the fact that the Kristensen kids, the oldest of whom turns 16 this year, were the first babies I saw raised into wonderful humans (you’d better bet there’ll be an injection of Danish-style parenting into our little one’s life), makes the outfit all the more meaningful.
The Wrap: A scarf from friends in Argentina. Through vaulting, I’ve become friends with so many incredible people from around the world. The wrap reminds me that billions of women have birthed and parented before me, that my experience is both unique and universal, and that I’m incredibly lucky to know a bevy of badass women both in my own community and around the globe.