Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It's been nearly four weeks since Jedi was born. My goodness, how the time flies. Of course, it helps when there is a lot going on: family in town, Mother's Day celebrations, more family in town, Bug's birthday party (that we had two weeks late), Memorial day, and Hubby's birthday (today).

May is SUCH a busy month. But, I am proud to say that I have (mostly) kept it together! I have only cried a couple of times since the birth. Which is a significant improvement on how often I cried during pregnancy! I think I can give credit to my placenta capsules (lovingly called 'placenta pills' in our home). Yep, I am officially one of -those- ladies that eats her placenta! And now I'm going to tell you how I prepared it (sparing you pictures, because I didn't get any. You're welcome.)

After the cord was cut, I briefly examined the placenta for completeness, then it was plopped into a Tupperware with a lid and put into the fridge. I wasn't sure when I would get to it, so it needed to be treated like any other piece of meat for planned consumption. I was able to prepare the placenta that evening. I prepared the placenta using the raw method, rather than the Traditional Chinese medicine method, which steams the placenta prior to dehydrating.

First, I placed the placenta in a colander in the sink. I then spent at least fifteen minutes rinsing the dang thing. I removed as many blood clots as I could (many of them were between the size of a large grape and a small lime). On the baby side, the placenta is smooth (covered by the membranes) and has beautiful, visible veins that form what is referred to as the 'tree of life'. I used a sharp knife to pierce the veins, so I could remove the clotted blood from those as well.

I then moved the placenta to a cutting board and used the sharp knife to cut away the majority of the membranes and the cord. Then I sliced the placenta into very thin strips (like jerky). This was somewhat difficult, as the placenta is both tough and jiggly. The maternal side is lumpy looking, rough yet soft and somewhat gritty (I believe this depends on age and calcification of the placenta). It compares more to organ meat than muscle meat...which makes perfect sense, because the placenta is an organ, not a muscle! I learned after the fact that it would have been easier to use meat scissors to do all that work. However, I was able to slice the placenta completely using the knife, and place all the strips on trays of our dehydrator.

Once the strips were all placed, I turned on the dehydrator and let it do its work. The house smelled like very warm (cooking?) birth, which didn't bother me, and I heard no complaints from anyone else.

Approximately 12 hours later, the placenta was thoroughly dry. (I determined 'thoroughly dry' as being dry enough to snap a slice in half easily.) The slices looked like petrified smears of meconium, but I went ahead and put them in our blender. We have a cheap blender, but pulsing it on grate worked well...although it was noisy, it only took a few minutes. I assume a fancy food processor would do an even better job!

Once I had my placenta turned into a powder, I was able to fill my capsules. I had ordered an encapsulator that would fill 24 capsules at one time, and size 00 capsules. Separate capsules, place into appropriate side of encapsulator, pour in placenta dust, scrape to fill, tamp down, add more powder, level off, push on capsule tops, push out completed capsules. Repeat.

I was able to fill 124 capsules. I didn't have a glass jar or anything fancy to store them in, so I put them in a freezer ziplock bag. I also actually keep them in the freezer. Although this isn't necessary (unless you plan to preserve the capsules for use years down the road), I figured it wouldn't hurt. Especially since I am only storing mine in a plastic bag!

For the first couple of days, I didn't know how many capsules a day I should have been taking. After a bit more research, I found that for my size capsules, I should be taking about 6 a day for the first two weeks, then as many as I wanted thereafter. I recently have moved to 4 a day (and they will only last me one more week at that rate...sad face).

I feel like they have been very beneficial. The Hubs has even said he wants me to encapsulate and consume the placenta with all future births! (And he was really squeamish about the whole thing before!) My mood has definitely been improved...especially noticeable has been the lack of breakdowns and tears typically present in the early postpartum period. I also feel like my engorgement didn't last as long as it has before. And I believe my lochia has been tapering off more quickly.

Of course, this is my personal, anecdotal experience. I would encourage you to do your own research on placentophagy. At first I thought it was weird. Then I though I might like to try it. Then I thought I would do it, but keep it on the down low, so as to not squick anyone out. But now, I have actually done it, and I'll talk about it with no reservations! So there you go!

I ate my placenta (well, almost...I still have a few capsules left!) and I am proud of it!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Birth Story: Jedi

Friday, May 3rd: Busy, busy, busy! Bug's birthday party was only a day away, and we needed to get everything ready for it. Clean the house, do the laundry, wash the dishes, make marshmallow fondant. After a day full of doing stuff, my parents arrived in town just after 8pm. We sat and socialized until about 10pm, while I had my typical prodomal labor, and then everybody (exhausted) headed to bed.

Saturday, May 4th: I woke up at 1am. I figured it was a standard potty break. I had an uncomfortable contraction, went through my roll-over maneuvering, and felt some baby wiggles. Then, I felt a warm flow of liquid in my crotch. I thought maybe I had peed myself. But I hadn't lost bladder control I wasn't quite sure. Perhaps it was my water breaking?

I got out of bed, trying to not soil my sheets (we had -just- put clean sheets on the bed, and I didn't want to have to change them again...especially if this wasn't labor). I sat on the toilet and peed, but didn't feel any further leaking. So I thought maybe I had peed myself after all. But when I wiped, there was a definite, although very faint, pink tint.

With the light still on, I opened the bathroom door, which woke up Scotty. I stood there, underwear in hand, and with a nervous giggle told him that I either peed myself, or my water broke. I really wasn't totally convinced that it was my amniotic fluid, because even further moving around didn't allow any more leaking. I was only having my typical prodromal-style contractions, so I figured I would lay back down and try to get some rest. Scotty said there was no way he would be able to get back to sleep.

So, I laid back down with a chux pad under me. Still no further leaking. But my contractions were getting stronger and laying down wasn't really all that comfortable. Since it had been almost 2 days since my last shower (and I had really worked up a sweat making the fondant earlier), I decided to go ahead and take a shower. It was 1:20am when I got into the shower.

I put shampoo in my hair, then swayed through a contraction. Then rinsed and put conditioner in, and swayed through a contraction. Then finished up, while swaying through contractions throughout. While I was swaying, I thought I could feel warmth flowing out of me, but it was hard to tell with all the water. The water wasn't really heating up to where I wanted it to be, so I thought I would get out. But then I thought I would stay in. But then I really got out. (Make up your mind, right!?) As I was drying off, I noticed there was pink tinged fluid running down my leg.

Scotty helped me dry off and put on my robe, and I decided to sit on my birth ball. It was covered with a chux pad, and I sat down. Scotty woke my mom up and had her join us, especially so she could french braid my hair before things got too intense. Then I felt like the pad needed to be moved forward a little bit, so I leaned back to move it and a huge gush of amniotic fluid poured out onto the plastic drop cloth we had on the floor at the foot of our bed. I could see it was a beautiful clear color, with lots of vernix. And it smelled so sweet.

I was giddy by now. I kept announcing that I was having a baby, and joking about the baby coming when it wasn't supposed to (the day of Bug's party), and also joking about the gushing of fluid I would have every time I leaned back. My mom braided my hair, while I contracted.

After a bit, I went to pee on the toilet. When I came back out, I decided to kneel and lean against my bed for the contractions. Around this time, my dad had also joined the party in my room. He is an RN, and moved very well into "nurse mode", asking if I wanted cold washcloths, water, a fan, a window open? At first, we all chatted in between contractions. And I ate some grapes. Then I started getting more into my birth zone. I was focusing more and more on each contraction, and soon I started vocalizing.

My dad excused himself, because he could tell I was getting hot, and I would probably be taking my robe off soon. I had to pee again, but didn't want to go to the toilet, so I peed on a chux pad. Shortly after, my robe came off. At this point, I was very concentrated on my contractions. I vocalized deep, low, humming moans. And I leaned against the bed and squeezed Scotty's hand. Scotty asked a few times if I wanted to get -on- the bed to be more comfortable, but I declined. I was very comfortable on the floor, leaning against the bed.

Things were starting to feel hard. Mentally, I knew I had to be in transition, because it was just so. dang. hard! But I hadn't been in labor that long. Could I really be in transition??? I announced that I thought I must be there (because, again, so dang hard). I didn't say anything else out loud about how difficult things were for me, but I was thinking a lot that I wasn't sure if I would be able to do this! My contractions were coming two at a time, before I would have a small break. One big contraction, thirty second break, one not-quite-so-big contraction, one minute break.

At about 3:50am, I had a big contraction that ended with a grunt. It didn't feel quite like a normal pushing contraction. I started having these contractions that still were so incredibly hard, but they ended with little, grunty pushes. I felt like maybe I had a little bit of a cervical lip left, and maybe that was why my contractions were on the line between transition and pushing. My vocalizing was starting to become a little wobbly. I felt like I was losing my focus. Scotty had moved down behind me, to check on progress, so I started squeezing my mom's hands during the contractions.

Finally, during another contraction, something changed (that cervical lip went away). I felt the baby's head move down. Oh, what a sweet feeling. I knew things were almost over. The next contraction had me pushing hard. I announced that I was pooping (birth is lovely, no?) and my hand went down to my crotch. There was a baby head there! And it burned! I tried to support my perineum, and then my labia as I moved through the push. Scotty was down behind me, watching the progress (and keeping things clean). He announced that he could see an ear. I think Mom and Scotty were surprised, because everything was happening so fast!

The next contraction brought out baby! I had a hand on his head, and Scotty helped support his body and guide him to the floor in front of me. Oh, baby boy, he was here! The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so I gently and calmly unwound it and picked him up. I brought him to my chest and rubbed his slippery body. And then the euphoria! He was so tiny (it's so easy to forget how small newborn babies are). He gave a few tiny squeaks, but otherwise was very quiet. His tone was great and he pinked up almost immediately.

Gizmo (who, luckily, fell asleep very early that evening) was apparently kneeling outside our door, trying to see in under it. My dad (who heard the squeaking baby) came in and let Gizmo and Bug both in to meet their new brother. I was so happy, I could have cried! I had done it! I gave birth, unassisted!

After about half an hour of joyful family time, I got back onto my knees and gave a few pushes to deliver the placenta. My mom got a Tupperware and I plopped the placenta into it. After the cord was tied and cut (by Scotty), I examined the placenta. It looked whole and beautiful. (And I am determined this time to get it encapsulated!) I nursed the baby a little (once he latches on, he nurses wonderfully)! Then we weighed and measured the little guy.

Shortly after, I took a fairly quick herbal bath (the water wasn't warm enough to keep me longer) and triumphantly headed downstairs for breakfast!

Welcome to earth, baby Jedi! (His perfect nickname, for this May the Fourth [be with you] birthday!) Born unassisted at home on May 4th, 2013 at 4:21am, after less than 3.5 hours of labor! Weighing 8lbs 1oz, and 20" long. Beautiful and perfect!