Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Have Placenta, Will Travel

Have Placenta, Will Travel
Avena North

Here's a riddle:
From my body flows the ocean of life
My blood pulses through the generations
I am born. I give life. My rhythm is the song of the future.
My deathbed is the garden of hope.

What am I?

This is a story of strength, sex, burial, and birth. This is a story of a placenta; two actually. Well maybe more like four. Anyway...

I have three boys. I lived with their dad for eight years. Their dad
(Henceforth referred to as “bad baby daddy,” or BBD for short) started to get weird. No, bad baby daddy got violent, abusive, out of control. One early Friday morning I left my home with my three children. Bye-bye, bad baby daddy.

Later that night, while BBD was at work, a flock of minivans, filled with home-schooling moms and a couple of dads descended on our family home. Plastic totes in arms, we grabbed all things of importance. Favorite toys, a sewing machine, undies; with precision and speed my life was whisked away to various closets and garages for indefinite storage. Only the bare minimum stayed with us—some clothes, a few toys, and a frozen placenta. First at a friend's home, for only a couple of hours, the placenta lay in waiting. Then it was off to the freezer of an abandoned apartment, the placenta its sole occupant. Weeks passed. I longed for my gardens, my couch, anything old and familiar. My sweet boys were confused, bored, sad, confused. We spent more nights at more places, each time with the placenta in tow.

All in all it was a crazy time. As if I hadn't had enough change in my life, the universe sent me a sexy, strong, musically ingenious, sensitive (did I say sexy?), man. My hero, he toted us from place to place. After a couple of moves, he finally questioned why a bag of frozen strawberries followed us everywhere we went. Although he took the placenta revelation quite well, he did get a bit miffed at the "melted strawberry juice" stains on the back seat. Getting more into the placenta-on-the-run scenario, he kept up the strawberry charade with his roommates while the placenta hid out in his freezer for a couple of days.

A month after we left, we returned. The locks were changed, walls repainted, winter gardens still at rest, my boys, the placenta and I were home.

Spring, summer, then fall came to our peaceful home. The patient placenta finally was put in its permanent home, buried beneath a birch tree in the back yard. You know what they say, out with the old, in with the new.

About two months after that placenta ceremony, we got a new placenta. I told you he was sexy!! The new placenta came with a sweet, smart, goddess-incarnate daughter. Now that one is in the freezer. The placenta, not the daughter. I think this placenta will have a much less eventful journey. Well, that's two placentas, P3 and P4 for those keeping track.

My second born placenta, P2, had the saddest story. It just disappeared. I had a very typical, very disempowering hospital birth. They took the placenta. I never saw it. I hate very typical, very disempowering hospital births.

My first placenta had a cool adventure! It traveled over two hundred miles!! And that's not even counting all the traveling it did while inside me. Me and BBD lived in Eugene, OR when I was a first time prego. I went into labor at 32 weeks. At the hospital I started to bleed. Bright red blood streaming out of your yoni is a bad thing in pregnancy. The placenta was detaching with the baby still inside. This can be deadly but thank goodness it was just a small separation in our case. Coincidently, it was a busy day for sick babies in our hometown. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was full. They couldn't care for my 32-week baby. 200 miles of torturously bumpy highway later, I gave birth to a very sweet, very little man. It just so happened my incredibly awesome midwife followed us up to Portland for the birth. It just so happened my midwife ran the Oregon School of Midwifery. Placental abruption (what I had) isn't something you see every day. So the placenta went to school. I got to go too.

About seven months after the birth, awesome midwife invited me to a day of classes. Placentas were defrosted. Oh it was so cool. There were calcified placentas, tiny placentas, placentas with wonky cords and of course, my placenta. After some poking, prodding, gloved flipping, ahhing and icking, I tenderly wrapped that placenta, carried it to a garden and planted a brussel sprout atop it.

I always say every child is different. So is every placenta and every placenta story. I love my placentas, half me, half baby, all miracle. Bless the placentas and the mommies and babies they connect.

No comments: