Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Pioneering Placenta

I sincerely hope that the following is educational and intriguing... much more than gruesome and weird. However, if you have a weak stomach when it comes to blood or organs, read no more.

Placentophagia is the practice of consuming ones own placenta following a birth. Fundamentally, it is a tradition carried on by most mammals (yeah yeah, I know animals also eat their own poo). I'm not suggesting that we, as humans should follow examples set by animals, as that could get strange real fast. In addition to animals, many people groups around the world practice placentophagia. In countries where modern medicine is not readily available, women have relied on the benefits of consuming their placenta to relieve mood imbalance, excessive bleeding, and anemia following birth.

Placentophagia is absolutely still considered a fringe practice here in the United States, yet is gaining more popularity as women are looking to more natural methods for relieving postpartum issues without jeopardizing breastfeeding or committing to invasive, pharmaceutical treatments. Most often, women who participate in placentaphogia are simply looking to maximize their postpartum experience by boosting energy levels and warding off infirmities or depression.

I get it. Many are baffled that a woman would voluntarily eat her own placenta. To some this sounds more like a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Hoping that the placenta in its truest form will provide the greatest benefit, some women opt to "enjoy" a placenta smoothie, perhaps made with blueberries and orange juice. For those who can't stomach it raw, there is a modernized version of this tasty treat. Placenta encapsulation. The placenta is dehydrated (similar to beef jerky), ground, and then put into capsule form to be taken easily and tastelessly by the mother.

Following my birth with Grace Louise, I had my placenta encapsulated by some friends who were trying to get their feet wet in offering this service. After having such a positive experience myself, I decided to offer this service to other women in the area.

The pictures below tell the story of my first placenta encapsulation.

11 hours after the birth, I picked up the placenta from the hospital. The mom simply signed a release form and kept the placenta in this cooler on ice until I got there. This was the first placenta request at The Regency in Winter Haven. This mom was a pioneer. I love that I was able to be a part of that!

"Biohazard". The organ that gave life to the baby for 9 months is now in a biohazard bag. A Publix bag would have been more appropriate. Nevertheless, here is the placenta safely packaged for the car ride.

I don't mean to downplay the seriousness of safety when it comes to being exposed to someone else's blood. I wore gloves for every step of the process, used equipment bought specifically for this service, and disinfected before and after the process.

"Hi Placenta! Welcome to my home."

This is the fetal side of the placenta- smooth and shiny with a healthy umbillical cord securely attached.

Mini-anatomy lesson: The placenta, with its liberal amount of blood vessels, transports nourishment and oxygen through the umbillical cord to the fetus. It also produces hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy and serves as a transporter of waste. Weighs 1-2lbs.

I heart babies. I heart mamas. I heart birth. I heart placentas. I heart umbillical cords too.

The side of the placenta that is attached to the uterus is where mother's blood circulates. Rough in appearance with some blood clots which were gently removed for encapsulation.
After the membrane surrounding the placenta was removed, the placenta was rinsed and blended. Mother's who choose can have their placenta steamed before drying. The ancient chinese medicine method is to steam with lemon and ginger. There is no indication that either method is superior.

Placenta smoothie minus the blueberries and orange juice.

The placenta is then spread evenly onto a fruit-leather sheet and dehydrated.

The drying process took about 9 hours on the medium setting of this Nesco American Harvester Deyhdrator.

Preparing for encapsulation usign the Cap-M-Quik machine.

I ended up turning the placenta over the last hour for more even drying. Once dried, the placenta was cut into smaller pieces and ground into a powder. (The only part of the process that smelled at all).

The encapsulation machine is pretty basic, but still involves some meticulous hand labor. Each geletin capsule is broken apart, the bottoms inserted the holes. The bottom portion of the capsules are filled, tampered to make more room, and then filled again. The guard on the capsule machine is lowered, allowing the top portion of the capsule to be applied. This part of the process took 2 hours.

195 "happy" placenta pills ready to be delivered.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And we shall have fish for supper!

I can only hope that these pictures captured a tiny bit of the awesomeness that was Grace Louise's first speck fishing night at Papa's dock!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Book Review

"Grace Louise, don't make me count to three! One... two... two and a half... two and a quarter..."

If you ever hear that come out of my mouth, slap me, please!

Some friends of ours recommended a particular parenting book for Jimmy and I to read, and I couldn't be more intrigued by what was written in the pages. The book is called Don't Make Me Count to Three written by Ginger Plowman. A must read if you are aiming to parent your children Biblically. (I think the Bible would also be a good book to read in that case...)

Ginger presents scriptural truths on discipline and parenting, pointing out an important part of discipline that is often overlooked- encouragement to practice what is right. She speaks of reaching the heart of your child (not just the outward behavior), helping them to recognize sin, and ultimately pointing them to their need for Christ. She gives instruction and examples of Biblical reproof, offering a glimpse of how this works in her own family. The practical scenarios included in her writing make this book great for immediate application!

A parenting book isn't a parenting book without a discussion on "spankings". Ginger presents what the Word of God says about disciplining with the rod and when that is appropriate. Great insight in those chapters!!!

Perhaps the best part of the book is her Wise Words for Moms chart, which lists scriptural reproofs and encouragements relevant to several noted child behavior issues (complaining, stirring up strife, bragging, etc.) (The full version of the chart can be purchased separately on her website).

I would definitely not say that this book is full of common sense approaches. On the contrary, I have been challenged in using this method, as some of the ideas are not natural to implement. (And yes, Grace Louise is providing me with plenty of opportunities for correction at the tender age of 14 months!) I am still running over to the refrigerator (where I have Wise Words for Moms chart posted) and finding the recommended Biblical reproofs for her behavior. I have a feeling I will be referencing this chart for years...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wiggling and Giggling

This morning Grace Louise and I joined some friends at the Lake Wales Public Library for "Wiggles and Giggles"- a time of story reading, dancing, and singing for toddlers. It was so interesting to watch Grace Louise interact with the other kids... she didn't even want to sit with me! She sat by herself on one of the steps... must have been feeling independent today! I snapped this cute video of her participating in one of the songs. She must be a teacher at heart, like her mother... (notice, she's up front with the teacher helping lead).

I'm only bummed that I didn't know about this sooner! What a great opportunity for teaching your little ones, and also to gather with like-minded moms. The Wiggles and Giggles toddler class is at 11:00 on Tuesdays at the LW Public Library. Other children's programs can be found on their website. I also just learned of another fun activity for toddlers at the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Wales. Musikgarten, a music appreciation and literacy class for kids, complete with instruments and singing, is led by Donna Geils in the Children's Chapel Wednesdays from 5:15-6:00. We may try that tomorrow evening!

I'm loving this learning stage as much as I thought I would!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mama Deer, Daddy Deer, Baby Dear

Hunting together is something Jimmy and I have enjoyed even before we were married. Growing up with three older brothers I experienced my share of shooting guns and animal harvesting, but never experienced the true hunt until Jimmy. (Not implying here that I "hunted" Jimmy. Actually he hunted me, but that's another post altogether...). Through the years I've learned how to hunt and dress an animal, the importance of regulation hunting in wildlife conservation efforts, and that no matter what, my husband will always make the biggest and "badest" kill, no matter what we're hunting (as you will soon see in the pictures).

In Florida, does (doe a deer a female deer) are only allowed to be taken by rifle one week out of the year. This allows for families like ours to stock up our freezer with good quality, lean meat. Doe harvesting also plays a key role in managing deer herds. I'm glad I could help out!

Jimmy took this nice 8 point buck about a week after I shot the doe. Again, he always ends up with the biggest and the badest! In all seriousness, though, he deserves it! He puts in the time required to stalk a buck like this, does his research, and lets many younger bucks walk in the name of quality deer herd management.

I couldn't resist these pictures of our "baby dear" playing with empty shotgun shells! Organizing, stacking, or counting, she finds these little red treasures more fun than any playschool toy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

It takes a village...

Don't be surprised if you run into me and Grace Louise at Publix on any given Monday. You see, Monday is grocery day and we are loyal Hwy 60 Publix shoppers. Since Grace Louise was small enough to sleep inconspicuously in the moss green Moby wrap, we have been treading the aisles of our neighborhood grocery...together. We go for our groceries, sure, but we get way more than we bargain for in relationships, community, and learning opportunities.

Let's take the produce man, for example. Every Monday Mr. Produce Man gets Grace Louise a balloon (and includes a little plastic weight, even though he's not supposed to...). He tries to get a smile out of her for payment, but she plays coy. We're learning please and thank you, colors, and the properties of helium. We talk about what Mr. Produce Man is stocking on the shelves. Strawberries, squash, lettuce... this week it was organic juicing carrots. Fun times in the produce department.

Before we move on... let's back up to the deli. You guessed it, Mr. Deli Man. (I'm not kidding. This is what we call these people... out loud. And they don't mind.) Mr. Deli Man compliments Grace Louise on her outfits and one time genuinely complemented me on having a well-dressed child. He said it was "refreshing" to see a mother take pride in her children's attire. So glad I could refresh his day with my darling child and her cute clothes. They play peek-a-boo behind the meat counter and practice waving hello and goodbye. He always gives her extra meat for snacking.
Mr. Deli Man, in all his niceness and deli meat generosity, is not alone. Yes, there is the Deli Lady. She loves Grace Louise. Really loves her. And takes time to come out from behind the counter to interact with Grace Louise. I overheard her today telling another Publix employee that she has watched my little girl grow up. That really touched me... and inspired this post. (So if you don't like it, blame her!)
The Seafood Lady is just precious, but we haven't been seeing much of her lately... too broke for fresh seafood.
I try not to discriminate at the check out lanes. But I admit, I do have my favorites. Two of the ladies are wonderful. One comments on Grace Louise's hairbows every time. She says she's never seen the same one on her twice. Hmmm.... Grace Louise is a huge fan of the debit card machines in the checkout lanes. She likes to help me push the buttons, so we prefer cashiers who are tolerant of such learning opportunities :-)

And these are only the people who work there! We run into many of the same customers each Monday, like the lady today who nicknamed GL, "Little Diva" and asked if she could try on her pink cowgirl boots! I don't think they would have fit... We're always running into someone from the community and its a delight get to know or just catch up with these folks... even if our grocery shopping does take half the day (yikes!).