The night we threw out my 15-month-old placenta
Our freezer had this problem of icing up so we couldn’t close it properly.
Well, the two were probably related.
It was also icing up because we weren’t closing it properly.
Last week, it finally said: “ENOUGH!”
The damn thing wouldn’t close.
I chopped away at the ice with my Chinese chopper (at least that’s what we call it in Trinidad).
I held the baby back.
She wanted to help with a wooden spoon – such youthful optimism.
Finally the reality sunk in.
I would have to defrost it.
No, you don’t understand!
It WAS big deal!
My first thought was: “Better get some towels.”
This was quickly followed by: “OH NO, THE PLACENTA!”
What the hell would I do with my placenta?
Or Talitha’s placenta?
Which of us does it really belong to?
This organ connected us.
It was a part of my baby.
It was a part of me.
I’m not particularly trying to go deep on that point but this is something I still can’t quite get my head around.
I thought through my options.
First, I Googled “how to cremate placenta”.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not so much), it didn’t yield many (or any) useful results.
I wonder if anyone in the history of Google has ever searched: “things to do with my out of date placenta”?
I thought about drying it out and turning it to powder but 1. that sounded like a lot of work and 2. I kept coming across links that talked about contamination and why you should get rid of it quickly so wasn’t sure sure about putting it in my oven.
Let’s go back.
My placenta was fifteen, well, almost SIXTEEN months old.
And all that time in my freezer.
Probably a health hazard but let’s not judge.
It’s gone now.
I took it home because I’d meant to eat it.
But then, I’d also meant to have this beautiful, peaceful home birth.
I’ve told you my birth story before.
Anyway, when in hospital, we asked to take the placenta home.
They wondered what to put it in.
Laurence and my mum took it home and put it in the freezer.
I felt good about it.
It was one of the few bits of my birth plan that went to, well, plan.
Every health care professional who came to see us commented on us having taken it home.
They talked about people who buried it and planted trees.
I didn’t tell them I planned to eat it.
When I got home the next day, I’d clean forgot about it.
The day after that, I couldn’t be bothered with sorting it out now that it was frozen.
It’s actually a good thing I didn’t.
I later read it’s not a good idea to eat your placenta if there’s been meconium in water.
There’s your fact of the day.
It might be a fact.
I can’t think of what the reference is.
So here I was taking everything out of the freezer, including a human body part.
I considered burying it in the backyard.
There were problems with this too: 1. Laurence would probably need to do it and I knew he didn’t really want to, 2. I should really ask our landlords and they might have said yes but I felt weird about it and 3. I didn’t like the idea of it being buried in some random land in Bristol (we rent).
So, I ended up ringing up the delivery suite reception.
“Hi, umm, I’ve got a bit of an odd request.”
“Yes? How can I help?”
“Well, you see, umm, I gave birth at your hospital and took my placenta home and now I want to bring it back?”
(Me, blushing on my side of this phonecall)
“It’s just that I meant to do something with my placenta and it’s been in my freezer and now I don’t know what else to do with it? Can I bring it in for you to dispose of it?”
“Yes, sure. Bring it in. That’s no problem.”
Thank God she didn’t ask about the date of birth.
I kind of wish I’d done some sort of art with my placenta, our placenta.
Or least attempted something meaningful like planting it.
But it just wasn’t practical.
And now that it’s gone, I’m actually OK with that.
In fact, though I was a little emotional while making the decision to send it back to the hospital, once the decision was made, I felt a quite a blanket of peace fall over me.
I think I may even have finally come to terms with our birth.
It was difficult but it was ours.
I met up with a couple of childbirth educators the other day who said: “There are no bad births.”
I think I’m there.