Friday 2 July 2021

Exchanging Family Pounamu

The 30th of June will be forever a date that we will remember. It was the day that we were supposed to be greeting our new born baby. We won’t be doing this now, because the heart stopped beating at eight weeks. “I had a miscarriage.” something that I never thought I was going to hear come out of my mouth. I had heard the upsetting fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage but I just never thought I would be that 1.

I feel honoured to have a platform that I can share my story for other woman, mama’s and yet to be mothers that you are not alone. Having a miscarriage sucks! There is no other way to put it. As soon as you find out you are expecting, you begin to dream. Those hopes and dreams need to be grieved, along with the loss of the child. It's emotionally draining and physically confusing and when you get to the nine-month mark, it feels like someone is ripping your beating heart straight out of your chest all over again.

I made it. I made it to this far and I am so proud of us as a couple and for myself for moving forward toward acceptance and understanding of my greatest strength: resiliency. There is a lovely silver lining in truly learning your own strength. You're a badass strong lady. And you'll keep getting stronger!

We had shared with our close friends and family that we were expecting and I’m so glad I did because they were the ones that got us through those first few weeks, turning up just to be with us, sit with us, dropping off cooked meals and baking when I didn't feel like getting out of bed. Coming over and looking after and playing with Arlo. Flowers on our doorstep. This was our village. We felt so much love and support.

When I felt ready to share I decided to screw the stigma and share on my social media channels that we had a miscarriage. Instantly, I was flooded with messages from friends and strangers pouring their hearts out to me, sharing their stories of love and loss. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. In fact, I felt a strong sense of sisterhood and community unlike ever before. When you’re able to talk about it, you’ll discover so many other women have been in your shoes and you truly aren’t alone after all.

As a family we wanted to do a ceremony together on the day that our baby would have been due. Over the past year I have been learning more about my cultural identity. Starting to learn Te Reo Maori, my native language, visiting my Marae and learning my Whakapapa. Connecting to my Maoritanga has made me want to wear a Pounamu. Pounamu is the Te Reo Māori word for greenstone also known as jade. In Māori culture it's considered taonga (treasure) and it is traditionally gifted rather than purchased by and for yourself. Many of whom have a strong spiritual connection to the stone wear it with a sense of pride and they believe it bestows strength upon them. For hundreds of years, it has been imbued with legend and stories and in many families, treasured pieces have been passed down through generations.

 While visiting my Marae recently we also visited our local carver and got him to make matching greenstones for myself and Arlo. Jake had already gotten a greenstone from a few years earlier which was gifted by his brother and we decided to get the same design so that our Pounamu’s would all match as a family.

I learned that as part of Maori tradition, you should try to wear it for at least twenty-four hours before gifting it. This keeps the stone warm so that when the other person wears it they receive that warmth as well. So before the ceremony Arlo and I wore each others.

We headed down to Morrisons Bush which is a significant place for our family and one that we visit regularly it. This area banks the Ruamahanga river which is also our family river and would be needed for blessing mine and Arlo’s Pounamu .

Blessing, if done correctly, will purify the Pounamu of any negativity that may have been inadvertently placed into it during the process of its creation. To do this Jake put our Pounamu into a kete that he had made and washed our Pounamu in the river, using a Paua shell to pour water over our Pounamu and he swished the stones towards the outward flow of the water a few times releasing any unwanted energy. He then said a Karakia which is a traditional Māori prayer which thereby transforms it into a true Taonga (treasure).

Whakairiiri, Whakairiiri
Whakairiiri tēnei taonga ohooho
Tēnei taonga puipuiaki
Tēnei taonga tuku iho.
Nā Ranginui e tū ake ana
Nā Papatūānuku e takoto tonu nei
Whakakiikii! Whakakiikii!
Kua tau.

Bless, bless
Bless this treasure of great value
This treasure precious treasure
This treasure handed down.
From Ranginui ever standing
From Papatuanuku still lying here
Let it be said, let it be said.
It has been settled.

It was such a beautiful morning, we sang our family waiata (song) to finish the ceremony.

Whakataka te hau ki te uru
Whakataka te hau ki te tonga
Kia mākinakina ki uta
Kia mātaratara ki tai
E hī ake ana te atakura
He tio, he huka, he hau hū
Tīhei mauri ora!

Cease the winds from the West
Cease the winds from the South
Let the breeze blow over the land
Let the breeze blow over the ocean
Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day!

To start wearing this Pounamu on the date we were supposed to welcome our baby into the world will be forever significant for me. I will never be able to hold that baby in my arms but I will be able to wear this taonga to always remember them forever. 

We then spent time together enjoying a picnic as a family. It was a beautiful way to spend the day.

Now we all have matching family pounamu with special meaning behind it, with a baby that will never be forgotten.

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