Sunday, June 30, 2013

I ate my placenta.

*This post contains graphic images that may gross some people out. So, if blood and stuff bothers you or you are eating or forewarned.

     This is a post about placenta consumption. I consumed (or rather am in the process of consuming) my placenta. If you are not familiar with the placenta, I suggest you do some googling. It's pretty rad. My body made an entire organ for the purpose of nourishing Perrin in utero that is then expelled after birth. Most mammals eat the placenta after their offspring are born. It's how they "cut the cord" so to speak. For humans, we have developed lots of different ways of  dealing with the placenta after birth. Some people opt for a lotus birth where the placenta is left attached to the baby until it detaches naturally. Some people bury the placenta, either by itself or with a young tree to commemorate the beginning of a new life. Then there is always the biohazard bag and trashcan approach. But for many, many cultures consuming the placenta has been a normal part of childbirth, and there is good reason for it.
   For starters, it is chock full of vitamins and minerals (such as iron) that are super important for the mother's health postpartum. It is also full of hormones- hormones produced by the mother's body. It's basically tailor made hormone replacement therapy. These hormones have many important properties, including helping the uterus to return to it's normal size post-partum. That's why a great way to stop post-partum bleeding is to eat a piece of the placenta (unless of course, your placenta is half way stuck inside you and the cause of the bleeding...). The hormones also help with mood regulation and with milk production.
   In most of these cultures, the placenta is eaten raw or prepared as a special meal for the mother. But now there are many modern takes on placenta consumption, including placenta smoothies and placenta encapsulation. We chose to go the encapsulation route. Below is how we did it.

   First, you start with the placenta. After it was checked over by the midwives, Lia put ours in the freezer for us. I meant to get to it sooner, but ended up not being able to start the encapsulation process until day 4. Here is the placenta as Lia left it, once we thawed it out and rinsed it off. Sorry about our colander being red- I know it's not the best for contrast.

Here are the membranes, or the amniotic sac. This is what contained Perrin while he was inside.

And here is the umbilical cord. His was pretty long. 

So first we removed the membranes and the umbilical cord. I just used our kitchen shears. Then we moved to the cutting board. Here is a good pic of the maternal side. This is the part of the placenta that was attached to my uterus. This is what caused problems- a few of the nodes didn't detach properly. 

Here is the fetal side. This part was enclosed in the membranes. You can see the stump where the umbilical cord was attached. 

We basically just sliced it up into thin strips. Those strips went onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven on low heat for few hours to dehydrate. Just like making jerky...

Once it was done, we let it cool then threw it into the food processor. After processing it, I noticed it still looked a little meaty in some spots, so I threw the placenta-meal back into the oven for a little longer to make sure all the moisture was gone. I processed it again to get it as fine as possible.
Here is part of it. It made a lot more, but I didn't think to snag a picture until we were already into production.

So then it was simple. We used a encapsulation machine to fill up empty pill capsules with the powder. 

And voila! We have placenta pills! 

So there you have it. Even if you are pretty squeamish, you have to admit those are fairly benign. So yeah, not only did my body make a person, but it also made me super vitamins. It's pretty cool. Now I just pop a couple of these a few times a day.

And in case my instructions didn't make sense, here are the two blogs I consulted:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Breastfeeding Sucks

    Seriously. It sucks. I hate it. I would rather labor and birth the baby 3 more times than breastfeed. It's a million times harder than natural childbirth. It sucks. I haven't slept more than two hours at a time in over 2 weeks. And you know what really has me miffed? No one told me. No one told me how bad it was going to suck. Maybe everyone is just scared that the truth will put people off of breastfeeding. I have to admit, that thought did cross my mind. But I have more faith in you than that. I know that you will realize as much as it sucks, it is still completely worth it. That a little suckiness on the front end is nothing compared to the ease and convenience and enjoyment down the road. But right now, I'm still in sucky-McFuck-this-land. (*Note, if swearing offends you, don't read this post. I'm sorry, but go put your nipple up against a door jam and slam the door a couple of times and tell me you don't let a couple choice words eek out.) So here are things no one told me, but I am telling you, so that you can be prepared.

    No one told me that "nipple soreness" was code for blistered, bleeding nipples that make you want to claw your eyes out. A stubbed toe gets sore. Nursing nipples is a whole other circle of hell.
No one told me that my baby would suddenly become a black belt in judo when it was time to latch on and that it would take three people to position him just enough for me to cram my nipple into his  mouth. Or that he was given a bear trap for a jaw that clamps shut as soon as the tip of my nipple crosses his lips. Or that engorgement feels like someone filled your boobs with hot gravel. Or that someone with no teeth could somehow manage to take a chunk of skin off.
   No one told me that all newborns do is eat, which sucks because it hurts like hell, and sleep, which sucks because you spend the entire time dreading when they will wake up and want to eat again. No one told me I wouldn't even enjoy my baby at first because right now he's just a little bundle of pain and suffering. Or that walking out into traffic actually seems like a good idea at 1:30 a.m. when you have been nursing for an hour and a half straight.
  No one told me that nursing in public for the first time would result in my infant suddenly forgetting what a nipple is for and a particularly forceful letdown that culminated in my hosing Perrin in the face and soaking my shirt while some $5 haircut place lady comes over to quiz me on his birth stats. Or that I would give up on going anywhere or doing anything because it's just to much work to put on a shirt (not to mention painful).
  No one told me that even when he does finally fall asleep, you are still trapped because there is no way you are going to move him now. He might wake up ...and then eat. You can't take that chance. So you spend 22 hours of your day with a infant on you who's body temperature is somewhere between  lava and a supernova (just to guesstimate).

   Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe no one told me these things because no one else experienced them. Maybe it's just me. Perhaps you wake up in the morning after a restful night, pop a baby on your boob and suddenly woodland animals are singing at your window sill like you're some goddamn lactating Snow White. But I doubt it. You know what I think really happens? I think everyone just forgets the suckiness, because you know what people did tell me?
   They told me how amazing it was to be able to provide for their baby. To give them the absolute best. They told me all of their funny stories about nursing and their awkward moments. About how it was hard (understatement of the century) but so, so worth it. About the emotions of weaning and how much they missed that relationship. So even though it sucks right now, I know soon I won't even remember. I'll be too busy relishing in the fact that I can leave the house with just a spare diaper. Or cure any tantrum or boo boo. Or feed my baby without waking up at night (I'm really looking forward to that part). I'm thankful my body can produce what my baby needs and I don't have to pay for donor milk, and I'm in awe that my body can not only grow a person but sustain him topside. So yeah, breastfeeding sucks. For now. But I have feeling it will be worth it. Unless of course that is another big lie that everyone has told which case heads will roll.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sittin', Waitin', Wishin'

     I am now sitting pretty (and puffy) at 38 weeks! We managed to knock out my entire 'nesting' to-do list over last weekend. (Note: I'm not sure it's considered nesting if you enlist non-hormonal people to do half the work, but there was no way I was going to clean out the drain trap on the washing machine or weed eat the yard in 100+ temperatures. No way.) All of the baby stuff is put away nice and tidy. Everything is done! Now we just get to sit back and wait for Raptor to pick his/her birthday, preferably sometime within the next four weeks. I've had several people tell me they think it will be "soon", but I really don't have that same inkling myself and I would like to think I would know, right? So these last weeks are time for me to rest, kick my feet up, chillax....

    Except, not. After having a pretty much symptomless, easy-breezy 8 months of pregnancy, it's starting to get uncomfortable. Not that I'm complaining- I will definitely take a month or two of discomfort over 9 months- but it is a little ironic (don't ya think?) that all of my stress and responsibilities cleared up just in time for my body to decide, "mmmm...yeah, I'm done handling this." Now, it really isn't that bad. I'm nowhere near the "miserable" or "done" feeling that I have heard others describe. Honestly the only thing that is making this last leg seem uncomfortable is being compared to my incredibly wonderful experience thus far. However, I have been accused of making pregnancy look "easy", so lest I be held responsible for a sudden outbreak of pregnancy amongst my friends, I feel the need to be straight about the recent not easy parts. Here are some fun new developments:

- My heartburn has suddenly gotten worse. I'm really glad I avoided Tums as much as possible during the pregnancy, because now there are nights where they are seriously the ONLY thing that helps. I was a little surprised because I read in several places that heartburn gets better in the end as the baby drops and releases pressure on your diaphragm. Of course when I mentioned this to my midwife, her response was "yeah, the heartburn will get better when the baby drops...out of your vagina." Yayness!

- I'm puffy. My hands and feet have been getting puffy since it started to get warm outside and the circumference of my digits is directly related to my temperature and physical exertion. But now my face is starting to get nice and round as well. It's gone from people asking "when are you due?" to taking a step back and exclaiming "Any day now, huh?!". Yeah, any day...or four weeks from now. Thanks a lot, asshat.

- Two words- Lightning. Crotch. Actually, I think it's technically called "lightening crotch" because it is associated with the "lightening" or phase where the baby starts to drop. However, "lightning crotch" is just as accurate and slightly more fun because sometimes Joey gets it wrong and calls it Thunder Crotch. It's this awesome thing where the baby's head (because it's now jammed in your pelvis) starts grinding against all kinds of nerves in there. As a result, you're walking through Target one moment then crumpled over in a ball on the ground or rigidly standing on your tiptoes the next because it feels like someone is stabbing you in the cervix with a steak knife. Fantastic. Now, I'm slightly ticked off about this in particular because it was mentioned NO WHERE in any of the 12 books I read about pregnancy and babies.

- Insomnia. I am very tired and still waiting on that "extra energy" that everyone keeps talking about happens at the end of pregnancy. But I can't sleep. I try everything, fall asleep around 2, then I'm wide awake by 7:30. Sometimes I'm able to nap, but other times it's just as bad during the day. And I do not function well on less than 8 hours. It's not pretty. It may also be related to the fact that Raptor seems to have completely switched schedules and is now pretty much nocturnal. I lay down for the night and suddenly it's a fiesta in there.

-I pretty much had no hormonal/mood issues my first trimester. Joey was ecstatic. We both expected the typical PMS on steroids type of stuff, but it was even keel the whole way through. Apparently I was saving it all up for now. The crying, the panicky feelings, the sadness for no reason what so times!

-This one isn't particularly new, but it has gotten worse lately- my T7 and T8 vertebrae are taking a  beating. I always here women complain of their low backs hurting. Not mine. It is square between my shoulder blades. It started bothering me around the beginning of the third trimester, but bi-monthly chiropractic appointments were keeping everything from being painful. Now I'm going to the chiro every other day (yes, literally) and my back is still in knots if I stay in any one position for too long. But I guess 30 extra pounds is a lot to ask my body to handle, so it's not really surprising.

    So there you have it- all the glamour of late pregnancy. Seriously though, it's not that bad and most of the time I'm at a reasonable level of comfort. We've been going to the pool a lot, which feels amazing, and my chiropractor is keeping everything nice and in line. I've been having a lot of Braxton-Hicks and some good practice contractions and baby is still in a good position, so once he/she decides to make a debut, it should be smooth sailing! There is a good chance the next post will be a birth story!