It’s time. It’s spring. It’s time to plant.
I take it out of the freezer where it’s been since last June, since Tikva’s birth.
I put it in the refrigerator and after a few days it has thawed.
I take it out again, open the top of the plastic container, and pour it into a bowl.
I look down on this magnificent thing – deep, dark red blood, a mass of veins, a symbol of life.
Tikva’s placenta, a few inches of her umbilical cord, and the amniotic sac that surrounded them and my Baby Girl. Incredible.
I need to cut off a piece of the placenta and put it in a sterile container. It’s going to a doctor who is researching the possible genetic causes of congenital diaphragmatic hernia. She may be able to isolate Tikva’s DNA from her placenta and include her in the study. Maybe tell me something that might explain… something. Perhaps. Before losing that opportunity, it’s worth a try.
So I dig my fingers into its softness, marvel at every inch.
My body made that. My body made that for my Baby Girl! That which nourished her while she was inside me, helped her grow. I can’t help but wonder at how amazing that is – it is not diminished by the fact that something still went awry as she grew inside me. In this beautiful thing in my fingers, I see what my body did for Tikva – I see how hard my body worked to nourish her and keep her well.
I cut off a small piece from one side, then another piece. I take a piece of the umbilical cord, and some of the blood, and I put them all into a small sterile container. Tikva’s DNA in a plastic vial. The rest back in the big container, back in the refrigerator. My hands under the flowing water, I watch the red of the blood run down the drain.
A few days later I plant the rest of the placenta underneath a new rosebush – golden yellow and orange roses with some pink. The best kind of fertilizer to help them grow and blossom. The roses are going to smell amazing when they bloom. The colors make me think of Tikva… warm and delicious and delicate and soft. So sweet.
photo by sleepingbear
I can’t help but be amazed at what my body is capable of – both the magic and the messy stuff. I’ve struggled with illness, with being overweight and underweight, with the constant practice of learning to love my body in spite of the jiggle and flab and blemishes. I haven’t always treated my body like a temple… I certainly haven’t always loved my body unconditionally.
But the three times I was pregnant I treated it like the Taj Mahal.
I took for granted the magic when Dahlia grew perfectly inside me and was born with relative ease. I was stunned with disbelief – Me? No way! – when I miscarried at ten weeks a few years later. Miscarrying felt like small potatoes when I learned that Tikva had a potentially life threatening birth defect – My baby? How can that be?
I’m honestly not sure what to make of it all – all that my reproductive body has created. I have planted two placentas: Dahlia’s with fuchsia colored dahlia tubers and Tikva’s with orange yellow roses. I planted the remains from my miscarriage with yellow dahlias.
Lots of flowers that are now in other people’s gardens.
One radiantly healthy living child asleep in my quiet home.
My slightly deflated spirit housed in this familiar almost-38-year old body that is both charged by what it is capable of and apprehensive about all that can go wrong.
My body actually feels strong, healthier overall than I have felt in years. It also feels – and certainly looks – older. I can’t say I really thought very intensely about being in my late thirties or even really noticed my aging body until this year – until I lost Tikva. It’s like someone polished the mirror and held it up to my face and said,
See? This is you. You are older. You have been through a lot. You are now even more weathered than you thought you could be.
Remember the movie Fame from 1980, at the very end when they do their senior performance and sing and dance all together…
I sing the body electric. I celebrate the me yet to come. I toast to my own reunion when I become one with the sun.
I sing the body electric. I glory in the glow of rebirth. Creating my own tomorrow when I shall embody the earth.
And I'll look back on Venus, I'll look back on Mars and I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars. And in time, and in time we will all be stars.
That song has been in my head the past few days as I have checked in with my own body electric. As I have thought about the possibility of rebirth after loss. About the kind of tomorrow I want to create – if indeed some of the creation is up to me.
I have been talking to my body, assuring myself that trust is still there between us – that body and I still believe in each other. I have felt pangs – my eyes have moistened – thinking about how incompatible with life Tikva’s beautiful body was. I have asked so many times,
What does it all mean? Why does it work only sometimes?
I have more questions than answers, of that I am sure. Yet I still feel like I have a lot to celebrate about my body…
My body that has given life, however fragile.
My body that is the only vessel I get this time around for my mighty and sometimes weary soul on this mysterious winding road.
My body that is – like Tikva’s – perfectly imperfect. Or is it imperfectly perfect?
I feel tremendous gratitude for my body electric – and the force of energy it both contains and creates.
What are you thankful for about your body? What brings you awe? What are you inspired to create when you look in your mirror?
This post is a part of The Body Shop at Glow in the Woods -- a month of themed reflections and memes that explore what we do in an effort to occupy these physical selves with grace after babyloss.