It’s a Boy!

Posted on 03.26.08 9:11PM under Aimée, Angus, Iris, Stories

AngusAfter 40-something weeks, the baby finally decided it was time to come out of his warm little incubation chamber. On Saturday March 22nd, in the comfort of our own home, assisted by the excellent midwives of Birth and Beyond, we were joined by Angus “Gus” Brainard.

It is quite a unique experience having a birth in your home. First of all, it’s sort of like a family gathering – you really get a sense for just how small your living room can be. Especially when there’s a 100 gallon tub of water, two midwives, one helper, a mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, yourself, and a pregnant woman all in the room at the same time. Not to mention all the birthing equipment.

All in all it was an amazing experience, really close and personal and intimate, despite all the people there. Everyone there was completely in tune with the needs of Aimée as she labored to deliver the baby. It was quick and easy, and drug and intervention free. Natural birth, the way it was meant to be.

I offer this warning before you read on: I’m going to talk about the placenta, and show pictures.

Midwives, as you might expect, are a bit on the crunchy side. What I mean by this is that they favor the natural things. They might be vegetarians. Or wear Birkenstocks. Or they might have had dreadlocks in college, even though they are white. They could like Patchouli oil.

PlacentaActually, they’re actually just normal seeming people. But they take their trade quite seriously. This came to light most prominently after my wife delivered the placenta. This is the big bloody thing that helped to provide the fetus with nutrients as it developed from a few cells to a viable human being. It’s actually an organ, and it is mostly tissue, with just a covering of blood on it. It’s sitting in my freezer right now. I think I’ll use it as fertilizer mixed into the soil when I plant my rhizomes. I also think it looks like a brain.

The Tree of LifeThe other side of the placenta has the cord attachment and a bunch of veins on it. They call it the “Tree of Life”. It has a unique pattern, unlike any other placenta. It is a fingerprint of sorts for that pregnancy. Like a perfect bloody snowflake with a veiny cord coming off it.

The coolest part about this whole placenta show was not the fact that I had to store it in my freezer after the lesson. It was not the fact that the midwife was really into wiping away the blood so we could see the gory details of the structure of the organ. No, it was the way that Iris took to the lesson. There’s the baby in momma’s arms, and the placenta sitting there bleeding on the floor. Iris didn’t know what to do. She actually said, “I’m interested in both things,” as she ran back and forth between the two.

Iris was sleeping for most of the labor, but we brought her down just as the pushing was really starting to work. For those of you that aren’t familiar, when a woman goes into labor at the end of pregnancy, there’s a bunch of contractions where she’s getting ready to deliver a baby. This lasts a few hours or more, and then the pushing starts, when she’s actually delivering the baby. For the last parts of pushing, you can actually see the head for a few pushes. This is when we brought Iris down – just long enough for her to see the baby come out of the mother.

Boden would not have been as enthusiastic about the birthing. We let him sleep. He woke up on his own an hour or two after birth, and that was good enough for all of us.

It is really an amazing thing when you think of it – the progression from egg to baby, culminating in the birth. It was really special to have our daughter as part of it. And now you are all a part of it, too, having seen the placenta and taken the abbreviated placenta lesson.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by BobbyO on 03.26.08 9:37 PM

    The rituals which accompany the placenta are widely varied around the world. Many cultures make a meal out of it, which the whole family enjoys together. I wonder what kind of beer is appropriate to accompany placenta stew? Yum. I remember reading about a tribe in South America who take the organ deep into the woods and bury it. They believe that the placenta needs to be sequestered far away, or else it will grow envious of the baby and try to harm it. The image of jealous, wild placentas, roaming the forest looking for newborn baby victims, sounds like a really bad horror movie. Our plan was to bring a Tupperware container to the birth and bring the placenta home (any bury it in the backyard), but when my wife’s water broke 4 weeks early we forgot that detail in our premature rush to the hospital. We never knew what happened to our son’s prenatal feedbag.

    A random digression… I love all of the special words that accompany newborns. My vocabulary just wasn’t complete without terms like lanugo, vernix, colostrum, and meconium.

  2. Posted by Bryon on 03.27.08 4:43 PM

    Congrats! I have a little one on the way too… Best of luck to you and your family!

  3. Posted by Eric Delia on 03.27.08 7:14 PM

    Congratulations, Keith! What’re you cracking open to celebrate? I’m sure your wife will be happy to finally have a beer, too. Share something special! (perhaps a new homebrew recipe?)

  4. Posted by Keith Brainard on 03.27.08 8:38 PM

    Thanks everyone.

    Bob: Aimée says they won’t let you take the placenta home from the hospital, since it is considered hazardous medical waste. Another benefit of the homebirth! Hazardous medical waste in your freezer!!

    Byron: Congratulations to you too! Kids are great, when they’re good. ;)

    Eric: Aimée was always an IPA fan, so I’ve got a bunch of commercial IPAs in the fridge. I also made a low alcohol IPA-style beer for her (called PostNatal), since she still isn’t quite ready for a whole bottle of 6% ABV IPA. It is special and fun just to be able to share a sip of beer with my wife.

  5. Posted by BobbyO on 03.27.08 9:56 PM

    Hartford Hospital allows families to take home their placentas. Thanks to a spate of lawsuits over the past few years, an increasing number of hospitals are allowing this, as long as you fill out the right forms beforehand.

  6. Posted by The Dude on 03.30.08 8:15 AM

    Congratulations to you and Aimée. May you all be blessed throughout your days. Parenthood isn’t easy, but it’s one of the highest callings we can undertake.

  7. Posted by Boak on 03.30.08 2:28 PM

    Congrats again. I wasn’t expecting to see placentas on a beer blog, but life would be dull if it only served up what you expected…

    I think I saw a cookery programme once where they fried it up with some onions.

  8. Posted by Mikey on 04.04.08 6:55 AM

    Congrats on the new Papoos!
    I was relieved to hear your using the placenta for fertilizer. At first glance, I thought you had an idea for a new beer! Like Placenta Porter or Womb Wit…