What do you give the woman who is about to deliver your fourth son? – The woman who has everything that makes her happy here in life, and who wishes for nothing more?!
This woman has spent 90 months out of the 100 months that you have been with her, either pregnant or breastfeeding. (But who is really keeping count?!) The past 8 years of her life have been dedicated to pregnancy, breastfeeding and family – and she would have it no other way!
Well, these are questions that my husband recently was faced with. The considerate sweet husband that he is, he has always given me a nice “push gift” after the delivery of each of our boys. The term “push gift” was introduced to us by one of our labor and delivery nurses in 2011, and although our boys are born via c-section the phrase stuck with us.
My husband came to me recently and asked what I thought of getting a “belly bowl” as my next and final push gift. I was truly moved to tears because I could not have thought of a more appropriate way to commemorate and memorialize our fourth miracle of life.
What is a belly bowl, you may ask! My husband had found a company, BelliVita, out of his native West Seattle that creates hand crafted blown glass or porcelain bowls or vases made directly from a casting of your pregnant belly. He had already contacted the owner and artist, Laura Marie, and had arranged for me to view her online gallery and choose which type and colors I would like.
I LOVED that he took the initiative to get the process started, even before proposing the idea to me. I LOVED that he wanted to create something that would remind us of this special time in our lives. Although this is our fourth boy, there is no such thing as “business as usual” when you are creating another new life. Each pregnancy is different, each child is his own person, and I am just blessed to be the vehicle to carry and nurture this new life.
When I am pregnant I am not one to jump in front of the camera at every given chance. Although I am not ashamed of my weight gain, nor worried that it will stick with me permanently, it takes some time for my self-image to adjust to the added size. I do remember to put make up on my double chin(s) in the morning, I wear boxers under my skirts so my thighs don’t chafe, and my all time favorite – I am impressed at how long after I stop waving that my underarms still flap back and forth. Towards the end of my pregnancy I end up wearing adjustable Teva sandals to my corporate job in the financial services industry, this is obviously a huge breech of the company’s dress code. However, like I tell my boss with a smile “feel free to send me home!” – which they never do, unfortunately. I even drove in the HOV lane of the highway today, thinking that my belly is so big, my unborn child weighing over 7lbs, that this in theory makes him an averaged size newborn. I figured that somehow I qualified as a “high occupancy vehicle” – thankfully I was not pulled over.
In other words – a pregnant body expands all over and often leaves the mother-to-be with body parts she herself cannot recognize. However, the one area of my pregnant body that I have always marveled at, and been proud of, is my belly. I manage to carry our babies in a “basketball”/ “beach ball” shaped object stuck to my torso. So when my husband suggested that we create a family heirloom of my enormous belly, I was flattered and thrilled.
I would not have been this excited if he had wanted to make a serving platter out of my double chin(s) or cast new sofa legs from my elephant sized ankles. Thankfully he chose wisely to focus on the command control center of my pregnancy – the belly.
Shortly after I decided that I would love our belly bowl to be created out of hand-painted porcelain, we received a package in the mail with our belly casting kit. BelliVita had included everything required to make a mess-free and simply belly casting: drop cloth, plastic gloves, vaseline, wipes and of course the plaster. I think both my husband and I were both apprehensive about the casting, worried that we would fail at this initial yet rather crucial step of the process. Finally, we pulled ourselves together and last weekend we spent a mere 30 – 40 minutes casting my belly. Jansen, our youngest, was a little worried about the mess we created, so he was quick to help clean up around me.
The cast itself dried fairly quickly after we finished and it came off my belly completely painlessly. We then left it on our baby’s changing table to cure for a few days. We are going to mail it to BelliVita next week, after the mad Christmas rush is over for the US Postal Service. Once received, it takes several weeks for the final creative process to morph our homemade belly casting into a permanent and personalized work of art. I am so excited to see the finished product and display it proudly in our home – for years to come, long after the original mold has been reduced to a less protruding size (aka my stomach).
I highly recommend giving the gift of a belly bowl from BelliVita to any pregnant mommy-to-be, regardless if this is her first, second or even fourth pregnancy. Every miracle of life deserves to be commemorated and remembered, and what better way than creating a work of art!