Childbirth: Now Available in Extra-Crunchy!
Homebirth, from my experience, is a wonderful thing. I've done it twice. Then I had my youngest in a hospital, naturally, because I'd gone and got all grown-up and had insurance, which didn't cover a midwife, so a hospital birth it was.
I totally should've shelled out for the midwife.
The thing is, there are cautionary tales out there about homebirths. People will tell you that you are taking your life, and the life of your child, into your own hands. They will say that you need medical support in case something goes wrong, and I won't deny that medical support, in case something goes wrong, is a very good thing indeed. The problem is that medical support starts leaning in when things aren't yet going wrong, on the off-chance that they might, with the result that sometimes things that otherwise would not have gone wrong, had nature been allowed to take its course, which it was not, do. There are probably statistics about this and I could probably look them up. I might very well be able scientifically to prove the point that natural childbirth is better, but that isn't the goal of this blog post.
The goal of this blog post is to warn you that you will be expected to figure out what to do with a placenta.
Hospitals, you know, never ask you to clean up the mess. You go in, they give you some drugs, they stick a needle in your spine, they cut a neat slit in your hoo-hah, they reach in with forceps and pull out the baby, badabing badaboom you're done. Never, never do they then hand you a large slab of meat WHICH YOU PERSONALLY MADE WITH YOUR OWN BODY and say "Hey! Do you want to take a bite out of this, or cook it, or plant a tree over it or something?"
Midwives do, you know, from being under the impression (rather understandable I think) that you are a super-duper-hippy-earthhugger who believes in an interconnectedness of all things and the sacredness of the creation of new life and some other freaky shit like that. So there you are, exhausted, proud, and cranked up on endorphins like you wouldn't believe, cradling the most wondrous being in existence to your maternal breast, and your midwife - after months of holistic prenatal care, one of the dearest friends you've ever known - says to you, "Where do you want the placenta?"
This is not an easy question even after you've had your coffee. You haven't.
When my son Eric was born, 25 years ago (!!!!!) this May 22, we elected to wrap it* in plastic bags and stick it in the freezer, because if there's a top 10 list of things you can't make a snap decision about under stressful circumstances, what to do with your placenta is at least #4. At LEAST.
We wanted to plant a tree over it. But we were renting ($350/month for a 2-1 on North Loop, thankyouverymuch), and didn't know when or if we'd ever have a place of our own, so we just stuck it in a couple layers of plastic bags and stashed it in the freezer. What are you going to do?
A month or two later, we had a power outage - looking back, it probably had something to do with not paying the electric bill - so my ex, then working in the kitchen at The Omelettry on Burnet Road, bagged up all our perishable stuff and took it to work to store in the freezer there. Naturally this included one human placenta, wrapped in a few layers of freezer bags, but still indelibly imbued with the unmistakable quality of being, well, a placenta. What are you going to say?
They've been there a long time. I could look up how long, but am not bothering. I just know that when I started dating a real Austinite and much older man (30!!!!) in my freshman year at UT, he took me to the Omelettry West on Lake Austin Blvd., now the original location of Magnolia Cafe. And I know that when my first husband (as if that really counts) started working there, he was 19 and I was 20, and we practically lived on the day's leftover pancake batter and cheese blocks. Life was tougher then. But then again, now that I am in my mid-40s and well-established in a career making good money, can I afford a nicer place to live than I could then, on my ex's part-time $4.50/hour? Well, no, not really. I don't have a dishwasher, and I don't have a place to plug in three-holed appliances.
So it's probably best that I'm past childbearing age.
I'm deeply saddened that the Omelettry is being demolished to make way for condos, though they will (and I encourage everyone to visit) reopen in a new location with the same menu (get the Popeye, okay? It's incredible) and human history, based on what we know of it so far, never really changes.
I'll shed a tear for the classic location. I have, honestly, no idea whatever became of my son's placenta. Maybe we planted it under a tree at my ex-MIL's house, now completely redone for another resident? Maybe we threw it away at some point?!? God knows what we ever did with Katie's; we were living in an apartment then.
Anna's was never offered to me by a clinical and impersonal hospital system, so thank God for that. I'll have a word with them about the forceps.
And you thought having kids was easy!
*THE PLACENTA, fer crissakes.