Note: Don't read this if you find my other posts disgusting or offensive. Move along now. I mean it.
I suspect that our doula saw my stash of pop tarts on top of the refrigerator. That would explain her hesitant tone when she called me after I had called her, hysterical, three weeks before my baby was due. Some women get post-partum depression; in my case, I had a whopper case of pre-partum depression, which, needless to say, did not bode well the post part of the partum.
“Um, Meghan, I know this might really not be your style, but maybe you'd like to think about something that I've read can help fend off post-partum,” she said.
“Anything, anything!” I would have freebased free range koala turds at that point if it meant I would okay after the birth.
“You could have your placenta, uh, processed,” she said.
“Some studies have shown that consuming your placenta after the birth can prevent post-partum depression. And I know someone who can process it for you. Into pills.”
Pills, eh? Well now, I’m a fan of pills! And it’s not like I was a complete stranger to the notion of consuming placenta. In Thailand, one of my Thai friend’s favorite soups was made with buffalo placenta, and I’d certainly heard about women consuming their placentas in smoothies, omelets, etc. I did take birth classes in Berkeley, after all. (If you don’t believe me, there’s this thing called Google...)
Fast forward a couple of weeks...
I’ve just pushed out my kid. He’s across the room, getting meconium vacuumed off his schnozz, and the placenta (His? Mine? Ours?) is on its way.
“It’s in our birth plan to save the placenta, right? Save the placenta?” I called to the intern, who was busy between my legs. (A situation which can’t help but call to mind the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Ackroyd playing Julia Child saving the chicken livers.
“Yep, we’ll save it, don’t worry. It will be in the fridge down the hall.”
Ah, really! In the fridge down the hall along with the Odwalla smoothies we have stocked there...and every other maternity ward mother’s snacks, too. Nice...
Fast forward two days...
Our newborn son is strapped into his car seat, and we’re headed home at three miles an hour.
“Shit, we forgot the placenta.”
Well, suffice it to say that much as we wanted our placenta, we weren’t really in the mood to turn back at three miles an hour. So, we called the hospital.
“Save our placenta! Please! Don’t throw it out! It’s in a Tupperware container in the fridge! Put a post-it on it that says, ‘Urgently needed placenta! DO NOT THROW AWAY!’”
Next phone call: the doula (not ours) whom we’d hired, for $250, to prepare our placenta. Bless her little organic soul, she agreed to go pick it up herself. (I had visions of our placenta, aging in its Tupperware, ready for a Manager’s Special markdown.)
Next phone call: back to the hospital. “Can you release our placenta to someone who isn’t us? Yes? GREAT!”
Fast forward another two days...
Post-partum depression has not, as of yet, struck. But I’m jonesing for my placenta pills, man. Big time. Because surely if I don’t get them THIS INSTANT my son will wind up in juvi hall in 15 years.
Panicked phone call to the placenta preparer: “Don’t worry,” she told me. “It’s all done. I’ll bring it over this afternoon.”
129 pills of pure Laslocky placenta, steamed lightly with ginger, jalepeno and lemon, sliced thinly and dried in a dehydrator, then ground into a powder and put into capsules.
The label reads: “Placenta medicine. Dosage: Up to 2 caps 3x a day for 2 weeks postpartum. Take for immunity, menopause, and to augment the Chi and nourish the blood. Also for rites of passage: teething, walking, school, times of growth and separation.”
I could rub some powdered placenta on my boy’s gums, the preparer said, if I thought he’d ever lost his way.
Our placenta, she added, was a particularly beautiful one -- so beautiful she dried some of the amniotic sack that was attached to it. Here it is:
Oh, and this?
This is a bit of the membrane and the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord, some say, makes a great teething ring.
Fast forward another two days...
You know how fish oil pills make you burp? There I was, dutifully downing two capsules three times a day, burping up placenta like there’s no tomorrow. And it was NOT pleasant. Gag-inducing belches, and no matter how I consumed them -- with milk, with a sandwich, with an entire loaf of bread -- there it was: the unmistakable piquant flavor of placenta.
My neighbor sniffed the jar. “Hmm. Smells like mushrooms,” she said, oh so helpfully.
Mushrooms STUFFED WITH PLACENTA, that is.
Fast forward four months...
Okay, so I cut back and took just one pill a day for...a day. The jar of pills sits in my cupboard, nestled with the honey and my great-grandmother’s circa 1915 Noritake soup bowls.
I’m not inclined to take it -- fortunately I did not get post-partum depression -- but I’m glad it’s there, and the truth is that when I give the open jar a good whiff now, it doesn’t smell nearly as horrible. It smells more of ginger now than it does of placenta. There’s something really sweet about having it, and I’m not saying that with snark. Plus it’s always good to have options: Early onset of menopause could be right around the corner, and my boy will be teething any day now.
And I do have delightful visions of sending him off to college, rubbing the contents of the 129th pill into his gums. "Don't forget who's your mommy, baby."