Fake Placentas and Blue Birds
So first let me say that I did not turn my placenta into pills and eat them. Qualifier: No judgment for those of you who did, I'd rather just keep my eating pieces of myself to cuticles and maybe a random scab when I was a kid. Instead, I kept my placenta and froze it cause I was going to bury it in a beautiful, magical, earthmama ceremony with birds and talking animals and maybe seven cartoon dwarves and a whole lot less postpartum depression and anxiety. As we all know, this is not the scenario as it inevitably went down. Rather, my placenta wallowed in the freezer amidst the chicken thighs and popsicles until one day my husband asked what I wanted to do with it and I said "chuck it." It was too much an ever-present reminder that things had gone off course, that I had "failed" at my first few months - weeks, really - of motherhood because that stinking thing was still in my freezer.
The picture that accompanies this post is one of the first "posed" photos that was taken after Aya's birth and it was, auspiciously, but also, painfully, Mother's Day. My goal in burying my placenta was for it to be at the base of that beautiful flowering tree behind us - a seemingly perfect nod to the beauty of the miracle of birth and, of course, the beauty of the actual placenta which has it's own "tree of life" veins in it (Google it) that my midwife pointed out to me after she asked if I wanted to see the placenta (and later, if I wanted to keep it). It was beautiful but also hot and blood smelly - like a piece of steak warmed in the sun too long before going on the barbeque. It made me nauseous and I asked her to take it away from me. She put it in a bag that we later rested it on the windowsill where it would stay cool before we brought it home later that afternoon. It was weird, taking a piece of myself from the hospital. I felt a little like some kind of grotesque organ harvester ready to sell my wares on the global black market of human parts. I wonder now if I really wanted it or if it just seemed like a good idea because my midwife suggested it; like leftovers you take from a restaurant that you know you'll never eat but can't bear to see thrown away. In any case, I kept them. Until I didn't.
And then Mother's Day 2017 rolled around and guess who was ready to bury their friggin' placenta!?!?!! This gal. And it wasn't there because I wanted to rid myself of it in a moment of well, weakness isn't the right word, but maybe a moment of pain fits the bill. So I got a chicken breast out of the deep freeze and asked Tyler if he'd help me bury it. To his credit, he did not act like it was weird and he even dug the shovel out of the shed for me.
The roots of the tree made it impossible to bury the "placenta" at the base of the tree. Just before I decided it was hopeless and ridiculous, two blue jays started hopping around some low branches of the small fenceline trees we have in our backyard just in front of the tree I wanted to bury it at. I took it as I sign and dug where the birds were until it seemed deep enough, tried to throw it into the ground without removing it from the plastic bag much to Tyler's chagrin, got my hand all chicken frozen slimey pulling it out of the bag with my bare hand for some unknown reason, and then just tossed it in with the briefest thank you to the universe that I got to this place, guided by birds, feeling foiled at every turn, and finally stamping the ground down with the shovel over my fake placenta and putting an end to some of the grief that has haunted me these past two years.
Turns out, the blue jay is the bad ass of the bird world. This website, which is of course, highly scientific and technical, has this to say about the blue jay's symbolism:
"This bird is a freaking bad-a*s. They do not take any baloney. They do not tolerate funny business. Blue jays are as sharp as sapphires, and equally tough to crack. It always appeared to me that once they get focused, there is very little stopping them."
Fuck yeah friends. Fuck yeah.