Actually, I am not eating placenta. But Friday was our little homeschool co-op, in which I teach Latin and another woman teaches art, and that's a quote from our Latin lesson. I am taking the same tack with these kids that I did with Alex: we work on the Ave Maria, and we work on the idea that -m equals direct object and that -o and -t mean "I" and "he/she/it" respectively.
Three weeks ago I took cut-up fruit and napkins and drinks, and we practiced "I want..." along with "I am eating..." and "I have...." I thought I'd follow up yesterday -- same verbs, new object. I decided I'd bake a cake. A placenta, according to my Cassell's Latin dictionary. I checked online and found a few alternatives, but I also thought about what would be easiest for the other moms to remember since they don't know Latin. And who could forget a lesson in which her kid asks sweetly for a slice of placenta?
In classical Latin "c" is hard, so I taught them to say, "Plakentam edo!" It wasn't until I got home that I snorted with laughter at my ill-advised lesson plan. I want placenta, Mrs. Gladly! I am eating placenta! Is there more placenta?
Maybe I should have stuck with the fruit.
Speaking of placentas, though: remember when I posted about Pete's freezer-burned placenta? Sometimes posting here about my foibles prompts me to do something about them. After I wrote that post I pulled the placenta out of the freezer. I tossed it in the outside garbage with brisk dispatch and washed my 8-inch square pan carefully. Much better, I thought to myself.
Elwood was less pleased. The garbage truck guys wouldn't want to deal with placenta, he said. They'd be worried about blood-borne pathogens. I don't have hepatitis B or HIV, I said. They don't know that, he pointed out. I fretted. He was right. But I didn't want to go fish that placenta out of the big garbage bin after it had spent a warm October day ripening there. It's all wrapped up, I said. He said, Still double-bagged? I guess that's all right then.
Trash day: it turns out that double-bagging doesn't quite do the trick. When I go to return the upturned bin to its home beside the garage, there is blood on the sidewalk. Oh, no, I think. I am reading a book by the retired Rockland County medical examiner, in which he says that blood is remarkably persistent. You can wash it/bleach it/scrub it/sand it/dynamite it/spray it/pelt it with mini-hydrogen bombs from Acme Roadrunner Extermination Supply -- and there will still be traces of blood present. Out damned spot indeed.
I am also remembering our 1999 visit to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, where Mary Queen of Scots witnessed the murder of her secretary Rizzio. (She was six months pregnant (with James VI) when it happened; I was six months pregnant (with Marty) when we took the tour. I remember being skeptical about the attendant's claim that the murder was supposed to frighten her so badly that her baby would die.) More than four hundred years later a stain remains on the floor where Rizzio was stabbed. Is that blood? I asked my mother-in-law. She said, I'm sure it is. Nothing gets bloodstains out.
Suddenly I know that our sidewalk is doomed to become a landmark in the neighborhood: The Walk of Gore. When we sell our house in ten years, we will have to explain away the bloodstained sidewalk to potential buyers. A sanguineous cloud will arise from the sidewalk and say, in big drippy letters: "We got your freaky homebirthers right here, folks!"
I go inside for the hydrogen peroxide and dump it on the bloodstain. It foams up thickly, like the head on a pint of Guinness. Placenta Guinness. Let's not dwell on that thought.
I have foam, and foam, and more foam. I have so much foam that Aphrodite could arise anew from my sidewalk, formed from freezer-burned placenta instead of severed genitals.
I reflect that there could have been an ancient Greek cult of Aphrodite of the Freezer-Burned Placenta. Perhaps a little-known Botticelli as well.
We live on a quiet little street, which is good. I don't want anyone to walk by because I am a pathologically honest person. I just am not capable of saying, "Oh, it dripped out of a package of ribs that got nasty in the fridge." If I have time to think of an evasion, I might be able to evade. ("Oh, yeah, it's kind of a mess, isn't it?") Caught unprepared I will blurt out, as sure as shooting, that it's placenta juice.
Suddenly, though, things are hopping on my quiet little street. My across-the-street bachelor neighbor crosses to my side of the street. My next-door bachelor neighbor comes out of his house. They are chatting a few yards away from the foamfest. I paste on a "TRA LA LA nothing to see here just move along folks" expression and pray God that they don't notice anything unusual. What could possibly be unusual about vats of discolored foam hissing and seething on the sidewalk? What could be suspicious about the woman whose face is twitching back and forth between "TRA LA LA" and "Oh, no, what was I thinking having a baby without an incinerator on hand for the afterbirth?"?
I run for the hose. I spray and spray. Is peroxide bad for the grass? Is the municipality of PCT going to object to my dispersing foamy placenta juice across the neighborhood? The peroxide is killing all the viruses I didn't have in the first place, right?
I decide to think about that later. The grumpy neighbor lady, the one who recently told the kids from up the street "get off my property," comes out to admire her garden. Wonder what she would say to a little placenta juice on her property?
With my first homebirth I didn't have this problem. Elwood and the doctor bundled up the placenta with the Chux pads and the soggy newspapers right after Joe was born, I presume. But things are different with a midwife -- almost entirely in a good way, but I have to admit that in this brief crazed moment I am seeing a weeny little downside to homebirth.
Why did I just tell you this silly story, four months after the fact? I am not entirely sure. But I hope it makes you laugh, because it makes me laugh. If ever you come to visit my house, you may notice a small faded stain on the sidewalk out front. It is not nearly as suggestive as the stain in the chambers of Mary Queen of Scots. But perhaps it is a fitting marker for the home of Jamie, Queen of Drama.