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December 17, 2008

Every baby is different....

When I was pregnant the first time around, I was very superstitious. I'm not sure exactly why--maybe it was that the whole being pregnant thing was a bit of a mystery. It was both weird and fun watching my body change in surprising ways, and I was always a little unsure about what was happening next. Although getting pregnant the first time around was relatively easy, I still felt like every day I carried the baby was a gift to cherish, and I didn't want to upset the balance of the universe. So, I didn't cut my hair--and besides, I have fabulous hair when I'm pregnant so why cut it? [This pregnancy, I have not only cut my hair, but had it permed.] In addition, we didn't tell anyone the name of the baby until after he was born. I think we felt like it was a bit presumptuous to know his name until we saw him. In fact, we had two names picked out, and we weren't positive which one we'd go with until the moment he was born. Funny thing was, our hospital was feeling more urgency than we were to name him, so he ended up being "Baby Christensen" his entire hospital stay because we didn't name him within the first five minutes of his birth. [This pregnancy, we have one name picked out, and we've seen her little face enough on the ultrasounds to feel good about it, but we're still not telling. But not for superstition. Just because we want something to still be a surprise.] A third superstition was related to the placenta. I had strong feelings about not wanting the placenta to be thrown away as "medical waste" and so even though it was highly unusual at this hospital, we got them to package it up for us to take home.

A friend recently asked me what we're going to do with the placenta this time around, and I laughed, because, although I felt so sentimental with the first one, things didn't really work out as planned. J ended up being born with a medical complication, and he had to go to a different hospital for surgery. Eventually, I was discharged so I could join him, but a hospital is really no place to have a placenta cooling on dry ice in a styrofoam container. While J recovered from his surgery, C brought the placenta home and put it in the freezer, and what with the newborn craziness and follow up medical appointments to address J's medical condition (which is fine now, by the way), we sort of forgot about the placenta.

I had a friend who had actually eaten hers, and let's face it. I was a little superstitious, but not that superstitious. I've since seen ads where you can have someone come to your house, dry it, and turn it into supplements. I wasn't going to do that, either. I had visions more along the lines of planting a tree and using the placenta as fertilizer. What hadn't really crossed my mind when I was begging for it to not be turned into medical waste was that we lived in an apartment complex, and I didn't really have the ability to plant a tree. Given the challenge of logistics, we just kept the thing in the freezer and tried not to think about it.

Eventually, though, we decided to move halfway across the country, to Minnesota. We didn't really think the placenta would make the trip so well, especially since we were moving in July. What were we going to do with it? We contemplated just throwing it away at that point, but that somehow didn't seem quite right, given we could have just done that when J was born. Instead, we asked a friend to take it. They were planning to plant a tree in their yard anyway, so we asked them to plant it with the tree. She said she would. We felt better and we moved on to Minnesota, and never looked back.

Then, a friend here asked me what we're going to do with the placenta. Now, I'm wondering if my friend in the NW ever did plant the placenta with the tree. I'm sorta hoping she didn't. By then, I'm sure it was all freezer burnt and nasty looking, and who knows if it even would have been good fertilizer anymore. I'm sort of hoping she just left me with the illusion that she was taking care of me, as she tossed it quietly in the dumpster.

This time, we're NOT keeping the placenta, even though we have a yard that needs a tree. Nope, not doing it. There'll be no placenta in my freezer. This time, we're donating the cord blood and the placenta to medical research. I feel like some good will really come of the placenta this way. Sure, it's gonna end up as medical waste somewhere, but not until all of it's goodness has been extracted and saved in order to help someone. That's what I wanted in the first place, and I'm glad we can get it right this time.

Posted by chri1010 at December 17, 2008 11:44 AM | Family Matters


I'm so in the medical waste category there. I was a little squicked out the by the whole placenta thing and never even saw mine. Which is okay with me.

Posted by: Courtney at December 19, 2008 12:32 AM

A little update: my friend who kept our placenta told me that she DID plant it in her back yard--they put a big rock on top of it to make sure neighborhood cats didn't get it. She also brought hers home and planted it after she had her baby, and felt moved by the whole experience, especially since she had also had a c-section and hand't gotten to see it.

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