Tuesday Tidbits: Placentas, Of Course

“…Lately under the lunar tide
Of a woman’s ocean, I work
My own sea-change:
Turning grains of sand to human eyes.
I daydream after breakfast
While the spirit of egg and toast
Knits together a length of bone
As fine as a wheatstalk.
Later, as I postpone weeding the garden
I will make two hands
That may tend a hundred gardens…”

–Barbara Kingsolver

via Two Birth Poems | Talk Birth.

February 2015 096This week I enjoyed this interesting article about the placenta:

The picture draws attention to an organ that, while ephemeral, once sustained us all. “The placenta really is a marvel of design,” says Barker. “It is the only organ designed to be disposed of after it performs its function.”

via Picture of the Week: Human Placenta.

I keep hoping to write a post about Tanner’s placenta and its velamentous cord insertion, but keep running out of time to develop it. Someday! I did write about the placentas in general and how to honor them in this past post:

…I think the reason the placenta might not get as much acknowledgement and appreciation as it deserves is because it then pales in comparison to the miracle of a whole new person suddenly showing up on the earth as well. Forget growing a new organ, I just gave birth to a new person!!!! And so, the placenta may be cast aside with hardly a glance or even much thought to its powerful role in pregnancy and the sustaining gift of life it offers.

via Placenta Magic | Talk Birth.

Not related to placentas, I was also extremely interested by this article about medicating women’s feelings:

…Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives. We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical.

via Medicating Women’s Feelings – NYTimes.com.

In my classes, I tell my students that it we must be aware of whether we are putting people into untenable situations and then expecting them to cope “normally.” When their coping with a completely abnormal, unbearable situation isn’t “normal behavior” then it is pathologized (and may be medicated). The thing that really needs to change on many occasions is the environment surrounding the stressed person, not the fact that person personally is experiencing stress.

It makes me think of my own past article about the “Of Course” response:

You feel healthy and beautiful, but now your doctor tells you that you’ve “failed” the GTT and are now “high risk,” of course, you feel stressed out and…like a high risk “patient.” You tried really hard to labor without medications, but you were “strapped down” with IV’s and continuous monitoring, of course, you felt like a trapped animal and like you had no other choices but medications. Of course, you feel upset and discouraged that your baby is ‘rejecting’ you and your breast after having been supplemented with bottles in the nursery. Of course, you are crying all the time and wondering if you are really cut out to be a mother, when your husband had to return to work after two days off and you are expected to be back at your job in five more weeks. And, so on and so forth.

“The ‘Of Course’ response affirms that those who feel crazy, powerless, alone, confused, or frustrated within unhealthy systems such as patriarchy are experiencing just what one would expect of them.”

via The Of COURSE response… | Talk Birth.

An example of what I mean can be found in the same article about medicating women:

But at what cost? I had a patient who called me from her office in tears, saying she needed to increase her antidepressant dosage because she couldn’t be seen crying at work. After dissecting why she was upset — her boss had betrayed and humiliated her in front of her staff — we decided that what was needed was calm confrontation, not more medication.

via Medicating Women’s Feelings – NYTimes.com.

Maybe it is okay to be upset when things are upsetting. What a revolutionary concept! ;)

Talk Birth passed the 800,000 hit mark earlier in the week. I plan to have a special giveaway to celebrate this milestone soon, but I have to finish up my end of session paper and exam grading work first.

Despite all the grading, I did manage to get some of our new line of mindfulness bracelets up on etsy this week though and I just love them!

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Wednesday Tidbits: Mothers Writing

…we write
to connect ourselves
to this circle
these circles
of women writing
each time we pose
pen or pencil
to paper.

–Wendy Judith Cutler

via Circles Writing | Talk Birth.

IMG_2864Writing our Womanrunes book feels like it unlocked something and I’ve got about eight other books in me now that want to be born! The challenge is organizing and focusing my time and energy in order to work on them (particularly since I’m on baby time now!). I also can’t forget that I’m also trying to write a dissertation this year. When I get frustrated by my pace, I try to keep in mind that the notes I jot down and the ideas I have and quotes I share and books I read and blog posts I write can all be, in their own ways, pieces of these evolving projects and are sort of like writing all the time. I’m looking forward to settling down with a free interview series about self-publishing, Be Your Own Publisher, from Lucy Pearce and her team at Womancraft Publishing. The speaker on the agenda for today addresses writing and motherhood. Last night, I also decided to sign up for the full course!

I wrote about mothering and writing in a past post for a the Rainbow Way blog carnival:

As I’ve been reading Lucy’s book The Rainbow Way, reflecting on my own work, and looking around my home, I’ve had a realization: While I have struggled and cried and planned, while I have given up, and begun again, and surrendered, and refused to quit; While I have been present and been distracted, created and been “denied” the opportunity to create, while I have nursed babies and “written” in my head the whole time; While I have been filled with joy and filled with despair and while I have given myself permission and berated myself and then berated myself for self-beratement, my husband and I have created a home and family life together that is full of creativity.

via Releasing Our Butterflies | Talk Birth.

This week I read some powerful articles from other mothers writing. This piece from the author of After Birth is about the loneliness of new motherhood:

“To Marianne, Ari’s feminism doesn’t make sense. Reclaiming the singular power of the female body is too radical or too way-way old fashioned or some weird combination therein. That’s stale thinking on Marianne’s part, and a pretty major failure of imagination. Problem is, a feminism that “liberates” women from biology turns out to not actually behoove anyone. Women still aren’t equal, and if we buy into that old feminism, now we’ve also divorced ourselves from something primal and arguably vital, and signed ourselves up for some pretty extreme new forms of violence in the process—forceps, shaving, enemas, episiotomy, the lithotomy position, induction, surgery.

Unmediated physical connection to childbirth and nursing is wildly magical. You see a lot of backlash to that idea, like, I don’t buy the magical birth/nursing bullshit, and you can’t make me, to which, you know, OK, to each her own, and Godspeed. But Ari wants to get back that essential connection to the body…”

via After Birth: An interview about motherhood, feminism, and loneliness with novelist Elisa Albert.

And, this piece about the ordinary but powerful realities of mothering

…But in each of those moments, the ones that are heavy and the ones that are hard, here’s the thing that I have settled on: We keep mothering…

When You Just Want to Quit Being a Mom | Sarah Sandifer.

I also enjoyed this post about Facebook reality vs. real reality. I keep meaning to write a similar post. I like her example of too much FB being like too much sugar…

But plenty of research has surfaced over the last few years indicating the psychological effects of social media are rather costly. Too much time on Facebook has been likened to eating too much sugar. It’s easily digested with little to no intrinsic value, and it weighs in heavily on users self-confidence, stress levels, comparison and overall satisfaction with their lives.

via Don’t Judge a Life by Its Facebook | Fort Worth Moms Blog.

IMG_2947Past Talk Birth posts about writing:

I’ve spent a lifetime writing various essays in my head, nearly every day, but those words always “died” in me before they ever got out onto paper. After spending a full three years letting other women’s voices reach me through books and essays, and then six more years birthing the mother-writer within, I continue to feel an almost physical sense of relief and release whenever I sit down to write and to let my own voice be heard….

Birthing the Mother-Writer (or: Playing My Music, or: Postpartum Feelings, Part 1) | Talk Birth.

…The body of a writer

is a political action

with each swing of a letter

each truth written

the world is broken open…

–Sarah Jones

via A Writer’s Prayer | Talk Birth.

“As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

via I am a Story Woman | Talk Birth.

“I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can’t do it if I don’t do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy…One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing.” –Rosellen Brown

via Writing and Nursing | Talk Birth.IMG_2855

 

 

More Adventures in Placenta Craft

I’ve meant to share these pictures for a couple of months. After making my blog post about our adventures in placenta jewelry crafting, I eethe time has come to share about past placenta projects ;)

IMG_0095Yes, this would be loving hands at home placenta craft at the request of my four-year-old. After Tanner’s birth, she was fascinated by placentas and asked that I make a placenta for each of these little babies. The cords had to be taped on just so as well.

I also got out the placenta (and uterus and baby) that I used to use for my birth classes:

IMG_0097My mom made this placenta for me. Apparently, placenta-craft spans the generations.

Tuesday Tidbits: Postpartum Recovery

February 2015 029I keep meaning to write another post about my experience with postpartum bellybinding using a traditional wrap. However, in case I don’t get around to writing that post, I want to mention that I think it was incredibly beneficial in helping me avoid a diastasis recti. During pregnancy, I noticed a separation in my muscles near my belly button and after past births I’ve had a 1/2 inch gap or so. Just a few weeks ago during my yoga practice, I noticed that I have virtually no gap at all now, even though I now have more kids than ever! While I still have a bit more of a “mummy tummy” than I’d ideally like to have following Tanner’s birth, the muscles underneath said tummy are strong and together. Anyway, today I enjoyed this helpful video and blog post about diastasis recti. It was very interesting and informative! Does Your Diastasis Recti have to Close For Optimal recovery? | Pregnancy Exercise.

And, this is a good article by a Facebook friend of mine about postpartum anxiety.

There is one thing I did know, that I now realize many others don’t, and this is a big one: “Postpartum” is not shorthand for a mood disorder. Nobody “has” postpartum, in the history of the world, ever. Postpartum is what you are after you have a baby, not something you have. Every woman who gives birth is postpartum immediately afterwards. That’s because postpartum, by definition, refers to the first few months after delivery. Postpartum = ‘after baby’ just like pregnant = ‘expecting a baby’.

via Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: What I Wish I’d Known.

I’ve noticed this as well, particularly in my college classes, women will actually mention “not having postpartum” or worried about “she might have postpartum.” I always correct them—all women who have had a baby are postpartum (some would say you’re postpartum for the rest of your life!) and in itself the term alone does not mean anything about mood disorders.

Speaking of having the right words for experiences, I also shared this quote about birth and mystery:

Birth is a great mystery. Yet, we live in a rational, scientific world that doesn’t allow for mystery. ‘In this day and age, there must be a better way to have a baby,’ implies that if you are informed enough, strong enough, you can control it. Any woman who has given birth, who can be honest, will tell you otherwise. There are no guarantees. It is an uncontrollable experience. Taking care of yourself and being informed and empowered are crucial, but so is surrender. Forget about trying to birth perfectly. Forget about trying to please anyone, least of all your doctor or midwife…

–Jennifer Louden (The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book)

via Plucking out the heart of mystery | Talk Birth.

And, what we often need is women’s care for one another:

Women around the world and throughout time have known how to take care of each other in birth. They’ve shown each other the best positions for comfort in labor, they’ve used nurturing touch and repeated soothing words, and they’ve literally held each other up when it’s needed the most… –The Doula Guide to Birth

via Tuesday Tidbits: Parenting, Help, and Early Motherhood | Talk Birth.

(Side note: when I first used this quote, I was also celebrating 400,000 hits on Talk Birth. Now, I’m thisclose to 800,000!)

As I’ve shared before, one of my favorite quotes about postpartum comes from Naomi Wolf, A mother is not born when a baby is born; a mother is forged, made. The quote I share in this past post about an article about “Rebirth” touches that place in me—that motherhood results in a total life overhaul and a new, enriched identity: Rebirth: What We Don’t Say | Talk Birth.

I shared this link about our cesarean birth goddess pendant in a different post, but I’m sharing it again anyway. Sorry if I am overusing it, but it really touched me and I feel like it belongs in this post too!

I wear both of these daily (I am currently wearing them.) The only time I take them off is to bathe and sleep. I am so madly in love with these; I feel so empowered when wearing them. I had a hard time with my new body after my cesarean and after a couple of years of feeling very close to depression, I finally found myself. I submerged myself into the body positive scene and fell in love with my body; (perfect) imperfections and all. I am now proud of my body and totally in love with it. I also treat it better now; Instead of just going with the flow, I make a point to give it what it needs. Matthew will be wearing these necklaces when I give birth because I can’t have them on; though I want them there…

Lauren Douglas Creative: Handmade Love; Reviews of Things We’ve Recently Gotten.

February 2015 093And, speaking of birth art, I just love this cool mother blessing mandala I found on etsy recently:

Custom Mother woman blessing mandala - wall art original watercolor painting rainbow colors dream catcher boho

Custom Mother woman blessing mandala wall art by SusanaTavares.

And, this new meditative coloring book sounds extremely neat!

Birth art, motherhood coloring book

Blissful Birth Coloring Book – These Little Joys.

Switching topics slightly, I also enjoyed this article about why women criticize each other.

Approval from others has been our lifeline. For most of history, women couldn’t protect themselves through legal, political, or financial means. We didn’t have those options. We could ensure our survival only by adapting to what was desired and approved of by those with greater power. The legacy of that history is still alive in us and can make criticism or challenging the status quo feel like particularly high stakes.

via Why Women Criticize Each Other—Plus Ways to Play Bigger | Goop.

The author also points out that we don’t have to wait for confidence before we play big/reach bigger–I liked that. I am hard on myself sometimes about not being more confident, but if I take some steps back, I see that the things that I do and the ways in which I am vulnerable enough to put myself out there, are brave and that feeling insecure and yet moving forward anyway is perfectly fine. One does not have to eradicate self-doubt or insecurity–feel it and do it anyway! I’m also using the Inner Mentor meditation included in the post for our Red Tent Circle this week.

Speaking of Red Tents, she evolved into a Red Tent goddess after being cast with russet pigment, but this new sculpture design was originally a Winterspirit sculpt and she does look right at home in this week’s weather!

February 2015 117

 

The Heart of Birth Quotes

IMG_2605

Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother.

via International Women’s Day: Prayer for Mothers

~

Choosing to move beyond the painful disconnections of our culture, I do my best to support the breastfeeding mothers I meet. Our world must move beyond separating baby from mother, self from breath, and bodies from hearts.

–Amy Wright Glenn, In praise of breast milk.

~

I remain firmly convinced that the way we treat women in the birthplace reflects an overall cultural attitude towards women in general. I believe that peace on earth begins with birth. I believe that we can change the world with the way we greet new babies and celebrate new mothers and see the deep, never-ending work of parenting our children. I believe in rising for justice and I keep vigil in my heart every day for women around the world.

–Molly Remer, Rise for Justice

~

Birth doula work is not about double hip squeezes. It isn’t about birth plans. Birth doulaing at its heart is a spiritual path that will rip away your narcissism and your selfishness. It will restructure your values and strengthen your compassion and empathy for all people through pain and humility. It is about learning how to BE in the presence of conflict and the human experience of living at its most raw and gut wrenching…

–Amy Gililand

~

Midwives often forget that our beliefs in [mom’s] abilities can alter her accomplishments. It is important to check our hearts and push through any lack of belief that may inhibit her strengths. This may sound silly or ethereal, but I guarantee it can make a difference for a laboring mom and family.

~ Carol Gautschi (Midwifery Today)

IMG_2616

Body opens
heart opens
hands open to receive

Birth mama
birth goddess
she’s finding her way
she’s finding her way…

via Birth as Initiation

~

…all those tasks and interactions of motherhood, a day full of which might make you feel you’ve ‘gotten nothing done’ because you’ve been in the cycle of care, are the heart and soul of the best brain building possible.

–Lauren Lindsey Porter

~

Magic mama. She who transforms body and blood into milk. Into life. Into the heartsong of another. Maternal sacrament. Shared freely. Flowing sweetly. Uniting. This thoroughly embodied stuff of motherhood. This physical commitment. This body-based vow to our young. She holds her baby. And she holds the world.

Mammal mama. Liquid love. Cellular vow. Unbreakable, biological web of life and loving.

She’s just feeding her baby. Is she? Or is she healing the planet at the very same time?

via Pewter Breastfeeding Mama Goddess Sculpture by BrigidsGrove

IMG_2623

Open hearts, strong hands. Be present, listen, feel her, trust your instincts. And remember–I have birthed my children…she will birth this child her way, with her power, be with her and let her feel your faith in her.

–Jennifer Walker

~

The regular old birth books and charts of fetal development and nutrition facts and birth plan worksheets didn’t cut it anymore (do they ever?). I had the same experience in teaching birth classes–yes, I could cover stages of labor and birth positions, but what about the heart of birth. What about the “mystery”? What about those unknown lessons in excavating one’s own depths? What about that part of birth and life that only she knows?

–Molly Remer via Sacred Pregnancy Week 1, Part 1: Sacred Space

~

…birth, if she has her way, happens below the head. In the end, fantasies and images from the stories a woman holds in her heart are what emerge with power…

–Sister MorningStar (The Power of Women)

~

Birth is not a cerebral event; it is a visceral-holistic process which requires all of your self–-body, heart, emotion, mind, spirit.

–Baraka Bethany Elihu (Birthing Ourselves into Being)

IMG_2622

A doula gives from the heart to help another woman discover what birth and life are really all about.

–Connie Livingston

~

…Like other involuntary processes, we cannot consciously control pregnancy and birth unless we physically intervene. Did you need to learn how to make your heart beat? How to breathe? How to digest your food? How to produce hormones?…You don’t have to do anything to make these processes work. You can support them, or you can intervene, but they will happen all on their own. You can trust them.

Lamaze International

~

As doulas, midwives, nurses, and doctors, it’s important to never underestimate how deeply entrusted we are with someone’s most vulnerable, raw, authentic self. We witness their heroic journeys, see them emerge with their babies, hearts wide open…

–Lesley Everest (MotherWit Doula)

~

Children are the power and the beauty of the future. Like tiny falcons we can release their hearts and minds, and send them soaring, gathering the air to their wings…

–Skip Berry

~

Expectant mothers need to be mothered; their hearts need to be infused with love, confidence, and determination. I now see myself as ‘midwife’ to the gestation and birth of women as mothers.

–Pam England (Birthing from Within)

IMG_2624

Listening to your heart is not simple. Finding out who you are is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and courage to get to know who you are and what you want.

–Sue Bender

~

Understanding birth technology shouldn’t lull you into thinking you understand birth. The profound mystery and spirituality of birth can never be understood with the mind, they are known through the heart…

–Pam England

~

…fear has to be present in order for courage to exist. The English word ‘courage’ is derived from the French word for the heart, coeur. Finding the heart to continue doing the right thing in the face of great fear inspires others to become nobler human beings.

~ Gloria Lemay

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Author Interview: Sally Hepworth

At the end of last year, I reviewed a preview copy of an awesome new novel about midwives: The Secrets of Midwives.

Secrets of Midwives, the

The Secrets of Midwives is released for sale today and I’m excited to share an interview with the author, Sally Hepworth.

A Conversation with Sally Hepworth…

Q 1. How did you come to write the book?

Sally Hepworth and Family

Sally Hepworth and Family

There is a saying among writers “Write the book you want to read.” That’s what I did. Being the mother of young children (and pregnant while I wrote book), I was finding myself drawn to novels such as The Birth House by Ami McKay and Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I have always thought there was a certain magic to midwifery—for a while, after I left high school, I even considered becoming a midwife. So, when it came time to start a novel, there was no choice to make.

I researched for months before I wrote a word. While I knew I was going to write about midwives, I had no idea what the actual story would be. I had a suspicion it would involve a mother and a daughter—particularly when I found out I was carrying a daughter—but it wasn’t until I read some fascinating stories about midwifery in the 1940s and 50s that Floss’s character (a grandmother) was born.

For me, the best plots start with a question, and the question I landed on for this book was: “Why would a woman hide the identity of her baby’s father?” I like books that have a big upheaval really early on—a “call to action” for the readers—so I knew that by the end of the first chapter, the reader would find out that Neva was pregnant, and that she wouldn’t reveal the identity of the father. At first, I didn’t know why she was hiding it, and I didn’t know who the father was, but as I wrote, I started to figure it out.

But when all is said and done, THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES is a book about family. What makes a mother, what binds family together, and the role of biology.

In writing this book, I found answers to a whole lot of questions I never knew I had. And I suspect it is no coincidence that this book took me nine months to write.

In effect, in 2012, I gave birth to two babies.

Q 2. In the novel there are many differing opinions about the “right” way to give birth, even among the midwives. Why did you choose to include this in the book?

In my experience, there still exists a lot of debate over the “right” way to give birth so I thought it was important for December 2014 119authenticity to include this in the book. Also, the idea of “right” and “wrong” tied in with the novel’s theme: family. Unfortunately, there is still a commonly held belief that there is a “right” and “wrong” kind of family. Or at least a “good” and a “better” type. But these days, there are so many different kinds of families—blended, adoptive, single-parent, same-sex parents, communities of singles. Of course, there are a lot of (strong) opinions on this too! To me, this was all rich fodder for a novel.

As I started researching for this book, I read a lovely line in a book that said childbirth was a woman’s first battle as a mother, and it was this battle that made her a warrior, capable of protecting her child. I found this fascinating, but also troubling. If birth makes a mother a warrior, where did it leave adoptive parents? Step parents? Fathers?

It was also troubling on a personal level. My son had been born naturally and my daughter was due to be born by scheduled C-section. I had a sense that it didn’t matter how the baby was born, that the birth had no continued bearing on the relationship between mother and child, but the more I read about the transformative quality of natural birth, the more I wondered.

In writing this book, and in giving birth to my daughter by C-section, I was able to find answers to my questions. I have more respect for natural birth and midwifery now than I ever did, and I think a woman’s ability to provide everything her child needs through pregnancy and birth (and beyond!) is astonishing—even magical. And the idea of a home birth, I’ll admit, holds a certain appeal for me now that it hadn’t before. But I finally determined that there is no “right” way to give birth, because there is no “wrong” way. You don’t become a warrior because of the way you give birth. You become a warrior because of the depth of the love you feel for your child.

And while labor may be the first battle you’ll fight for your child, compared to the battles that still lie ahead? Even the most arduous birth is a walk in the park.

Q 3. What research did you do?

As I prepared to write this novel, I read everything I could get my hands on about midwifery—novels, memoirs, non-fiction books—and I watched every piece of footage that showed high-risk deliveries that YouTube had available. I subscribed to online communities and forums where I was able to ask questions about midwifery and birth and I touched base with several home-birth midwives and midwives alliance groups. I also have an aunt who is a midwife who was able to make suggestions and verify things for me.

Being pregnant, I also had easy access to my obstetrician for questions. It became common for my prenatal check-ups to consist of a quick blood pressure check, followed by twenty minutes of question time about my novel. In the hospital after having my daughter, I had a fantastic midwife who shared many stories with me about unusual or memorable births. I was stunned by the level of skill and expertise that was required, and the host of things to be prepared for during labor. But what I remember most about our conversations is her awe and respect for mothers in labor, and I attempted to weave this awe into all three of my POV characters, particularly Neva.

Q 4. What are some of the weird and wonderful facts you’ve learned about midwifery and birth during your research?

  • In the past, midwives were known to secretly harbor unwed mothers, perform abortions, baptize babies, and serve as pediatricians for the first year of the baby’s birth.
  • May Babies Are The Heaviest: Babies born in May are, on average, 200 grams heavier than any other month.
  • Centuries ago the midwife would catch the baby in her apron!
  • In the US, midwifery is only licensed or regulated in 21 states. In most states licensed midwives are not required to have any practice agreement with a doctor.

Q 5. One of your protagonists has issues with her mother. Did you draw on personal experience for this?

 Actually, my mother and I have a very close—verging on boring—relationship. Though we are quite different (she is private and conservative like Neva, and I am like Grace—pushy and talkative and loud) conflict between us is rare. So I wasn’t able to draw on that relationship from a dysfunctional perspective. That said, I was able to identify with loving someone who is very different (not just my mother, but also my husband and my son), and learning how to love them the way they need you to. Above all, the key is respecting the person for who they are, and always looking for the good they can offer.

Q 6. How can readers get in touch with you and support your work?

I am very active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I have also started spending more time on Goodreads. My website www.sallyhepworthauthor.com is the place to go for book information, upcoming events and my bio.

Thanks for listening (reading)!

Sally x

October 2014 023

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.

 

Adventures in Placenta Craft

IMG_0482For the past several weeks, we’ve been trying to make a placenta jewel using some of the leftover encapsulated placenta from Tanner’s birth. Why, you may ask? Three possible explanations come to mind:

1. Why not?
2. Freaking awesomeness
3. Awesome freakishness

As my oldest son said when he saw it, “yeah, that’s totally normal.”

It took several attempts before we got a result we were happy with. First, we used our regular clear casting resin and it turned out extremely bubbly:

IMG_0497Mark also poured some into one of our pendant molds and made a little placenta scrap-goddess:

IMG_0483The dehydrated placenta “sunk” in the resin and concentrated at the bottom (front) of the mold. The bubbles of this initial attempt make it look “fizzy” and opaque rather than clear and jewelly. Mark hadn’t put the first attempt into the vacuum chamber he built (which reduces bubbles) and so the next attempt he did put in the chamber. Additionally, we added some russet pigment to it to see if that would look cool…

IMG_0494-0Not only did it not look cool, but it bubbled up in an extremely dramatic way that we’ve never seen resin do before and created a very weird mutated effect.

IMG_2431The back of the puffed-up jewels looked a little cool, but not cool enough.

IMG_0488We hypothesized that the weird bubbling must have been a reaction to having organic material in with the resin. We almost gave up, but I did a little research and decided to give jewelry resin a try instead of the casting resin we’d been using. It was expensive for only a small bottle of jewelry resin, but it gave us much better results!

IMG_0495There are still some fine bubbles, but it is much clearer and better looking. The scrap goddess turned out better too:

IMG_0499 Finally, we had a placenta jewel good enough to set!

IMG_0500Returning to the question of why do this, I come back to a quote I use at mother blessings:

The memory of [my child’s] birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go…

via Blessingway Readings & Chants | Talk Birth.

Birth art and birth jewelry can be a tangible “talisman” of our birth journeys. We can draw upon past moments of strength for inspiration and encouragement and affirmation during current struggles. During the day, I am fond of carrying around the birth goddess sculpture that I held during my labor with Tanner and I usually set her by the bed at night. She reminds me of what I am capable of. A placenta jewel pendant offers the same affirmation and connection.

You know how it is said there is no medal for giving birth?

I disagree…

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*We’re not really planning to market these for sale, but are willing to consider special requests for friends or friends of friends. Due to the multi-step casting process involving multiple days of work, a pendant like this would be $45. :)