Jameelah and I are now on week seven of our eight-week baby birthing course. Each week that passes by is a week closer to the birth of our little one, which is awesome for two reasons. First, I can’t wait to meet him and hold him and show him off when he’s cute enough (newborns are usually not attractive the first two months, when they have conical heads and look like a combination of a potato and some insect larva).
Secondly, in her third trimester, Jameelah has been snoring with the intensity of ten, maybe twelve, helicopters. Ear plugs do not work, since the vibrations just cut right through them. I got nearly vibrated off the bed the other day. I can’t sleep. I look tired all the time. I can’t wait for the baby to be born, so that the snoring can stop, and I can finally get some shut-eye.
But anyway, back to the classes. I’ve been amazed and really impressed by Seattle’s whole baby-birthing thing. Jameelah plans to deliver in a birthing tub. Some women plan to give birth at home. In fact, Seattle is all about what feels natural. If you want to give birth in your backyard holding onto a tree, that would be fine. If you want your other kid in the birthing tub with you, no one is fazed. If you want a hundred monarch butterflies to be released as soon as the baby arrives, your doula can take care of it: (“I ordered the monarch butterflies you wanted. They’re organic. They’re in the fridge hibernating. We just need to wake them up when you’re about eight centimeters dilated.”).
For the past few weeks, we guys have been game, learning all sorts of stuff and trying very hard to be mature. We calmly ask intelligent questions like “How big exactly is eight centimeters? Is that bigger or smaller than a personal watermelon?” and “How much alcohol can the father take during the birthing before it’s considered insensitive?”
However, this last session, we couldn’t hold our composure. Someone asked about eating the placenta to this response: “My friend froze hers, and just popped it on the grill.” We guys looked at each other, not knowing what to say. The women were discussing this as if they were talking about whether to use cloth or disposable diapers: “Almost all mammals eat their placentas, and when else are you going to create a life-sustaining organ? Why waste it?” The guys exchanged glances some more, trying to be mature and open minded and not scared.
“The reason why some women are eating their placentas,” said our instructor, and at that point, we guys couldn’t hold it in any further. We were nearly on the floor, laughing so hard. It was hysterical how calmly she said that.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests it can lessen post-partum depression,” she continued.
Of course, after learning that the hormones in the placenta may be helpful in preventing depression and thus even suicide, we all felt like jerks. Insensitive jerks. We calmed down.
“Some women turn it into art,” said Jameelah, “They dry it and make it into a bracelet, for example.”
The dam burst a second time. Bracelets! That’s hilarious! A change purse, someone suggested, starting another round of chuckles.
“You can also get the placenta encapsulated,” said our instructor.
Encapsulation entails hiring someone to take the placenta, dry it, pulverize it into a powder and turn it into a couple dozen pills. That doesn’t sound so gross, we decided, and if it could help the mother, why not? I didn’t want to think about what sort of machine this person would be using. A spice or coffee grinder, maybe?
After the placenta eating discussion, we learned how to swaddle a baby. Everyone had brought in a teddy bear or doll to practice on. We don’t have many stuffed animals, so we brought our penguin Pillow Pet and learned to swaddle that. Looking down at the penguin all bundled up and resting in my arms, I had a sudden burst of fatherly joy. Soon I’ll be holding a real baby. My tiny baby son. It made me want to order some Monarch butterflies.
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