24 June 2007

Sacred Red Placenta Roses

Generally, when we do "sacred" or solemn acts, they come out awkwardly funny. For us, "sacred" means embracing the absurdity in what should be a solemn moment. Sacred generally involves dancing. Sacred means we call upon the Creator to come laugh with us. Laughter is holy. Silly or interpretive dance brings us close to the divine. Take, for example, how we say grace. Don't laugh. This is an important rite for us:
God is great, God is good.
God is dancing in our food.
Good is good, God is great.
God is dancing on our plate.
Amen. [louder]AMEN

So this was our Sacred Placenta Planting Ceremony.

Ingrid's placenta has been living in our freezer for neary 2 1/2 years. Today we finally buried it. We sectioned off a new little garden space by the side fence and planted a rose bush over it. The rose bush was a Father's Day gift for Chris. I got it from BJ's for $10. For a $10 rose bush, it's quite nice.

Ingrid napped upstairs, Bea played across the street. Chris asked me to help him plant the rose bush. I said, "Let's bury the placenta while we're at it."

Chris said, "Okay. Do you think we should put it in the microwave to let it thaw?"

I said, "That's gross. I'm not cooking my placenta in a microwave. It'll be fine."

"Well, if you don't think it will the freeze the roots..."

"Dude!" I said, "It's warm outside. The ground is warm. It'll thaw before it does any damage."

So I fished around in the freezer and found the placenta, lovingly wrapped in two Ziplock freezer bags. No more mistaking it for frozen steak. I brought it outside and opened the bags. It was the first time I've looked at it in over 2 years. It was dark red and frosty, and I could see the umbilical cord, and the veins, and the fleshiness. "I made that!" I said.

"It looks like a kombucha baby." Chris said.

"You're right." I said. "Except it's bloodier."

"Maybe the midwives switched it on you and actually gave you a kombucha baby."

"I don't think so. I took a good look at it. It wasn't kombucha. Look how bloody it is. Kombucha isn't bloody."

"They could have poured blood on it to make it look like a placenta."

"That's silly." I said.

"But what if they did?"

I told him to shut up. Not in a mean way. Just in our "okay, it's not funny anymore" way.

And suddenly I got really sad. Ingrid's birth story is the poster birth story for the superior care you can get when you have your baby at home with competent, caring midwives. I couldn't make up a better birth story. I looked at the placenta and remembered it all, and then realized that this might be the last placenta I make. Ingrid could well be our last child. Yesterday at the farmers' market, I saw scads of pregnant women, and one mom with a newborn. I'm hit hard with baby-wants right now. Chris is not. Bea and Ingrid were both unexpected gifts. If we have a third, there would be no surprises. It would be a mutual agreement, an endeavor, a planned thing. We don't do many "planned things", which makes me think a third baby might never be. Things could change in a couple of years. We'll see.

But this rite was to honor Ingrid's birth, and to plant our rose bush. I snapped out of the baby wants for the moment. Chris dug a hole, noting he wanted it to be deep enough so that nothing tried to dig it up. I dropped the placenta in, and it fell with frozen thud. Chris covered it with a little more dirt and I watched some worms squiggle around. They must have felt exposed (and a little cold). I threw a banana peel over that (to feed the rose bush. It was a tip I learned from the man at BJ's who checks to make sure everything in your basket is accounted for on your receipt). We placed the rose bush over that, and set it.

"Should we say a few words?" I asked.

"I don't know. 'Here lies the placenta.'" Chris said.

That was good. To the point.

"I'll do a little placenta dance." I said. I twirled around a couple of times, and did a couple of stag leaps. "This is the placenta dance..." I sang to the tune of Nick Cave's "Weeping Song".

We took a few steps back and admired our rose bush, and made a plan to fill the whole flower bed with roses. (Yeah!) I thought about our third child who might never be, and wasn't sad.


joshua said...

I wish I'd been there for this.

Parthenia said...

It was a private ceremony. But after reading this, consider yourself there in spirit.