I was thinking about the placenta the other day. I created this wonderful organ for baby to live in, but it is not mine. I do not need it in order to function in my life. Baby, once he is born has no use for it. It is neither his nor mine. It is between us, uniting us for this brief moment in time. For these 9 months we are tethered together, separate and one at the same time. This organ, which for 9 months has provided a home for baby, and was my first gesture of love in it’s creation, will be tossed aside in some hospital bio hazard bag. I am not sure how I feel about this.
I read in a book that a group in Indonesia think of the afterbirth as a sibling to the baby. A spirit protector that will come to him in his hour of need. In the animal world the mother eats the placenta as a way to replenish her body after all the work of giving birth. In Polish the word for placenta is a root word for “nest” or “nesting”. I am sure there are other cultures with different concepts of the placenta and more eloquent beautiful ways of thinking about it. In English, in my culture, it is a disgusting thing. Toss it. It is useless now. But can we not also honor the work that it did, the vital part it played in uniting my son and me?It protected him when my arms could not hold him. It allowed me to give him life, to be the bridge between the inside and outside world. I don’t think I want the placenta fairy to come down and give me a dollar for it, and I would prefer not to cook it and eat it- no matter how tired I am after birth. But how do I honor it, or should I even honor it before it is tossed in with the rest of the garbage.