During my last pregnancy, I wanted to get a henna tattoo on my belly to symbolize the special journey I was on toward a different kind of birthing experience. In my mind, I pictured a Tree of Life, strong and grounded yet able to sway without breaking when the wind blew it. I imagined life coursing through its limbs, nourishing each twig and leaf.
Unfortunately, due to the crazy nature of our home environment before I delivered (drawn out construction etc), my plan didn’t come to fruition. But, during that time, when I felt my day careening off course, I closed my eyes, pictured my tree and tried to imagine the strength of those roots grounding me while a soft breeze refreshed me.
The amazing part of this story is that when I gave birth to my second daughter, my midwife offered me a look at the placenta. Then she asked, “Do you know there is a picture on it?” Surprised, I looked at what she was holding. There on its side of the placenta was an incredible network of veins which had nourished and sustained my daughter for nine months – in the shape of a Tree of Life.
I don’t think this is necessarily unique to me but it was a profound experience for me to see an image of the thing I had imagined all those months. In that moment, I felt an incredible gratitude and respect for this body I am privileged to inhabit – and its ability to create, nourish and sustain a tiny life within itself. Incredible.