Monday, November 10, 2008

Souvenirs from birth

I’m currently reading the book, Eat, Pray, Love. Today, in the love part, I came across this information on an interesting Balinese birth practice.

The Balinese believe that each person is accompanied by four invisible brothers at birth. These brothers come into the world with us and protect us throughout our lives. They are represented by the placenta, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord and the yellow waxy substance that protects a baby’s skin.

When a baby is born, the Balinese parents collect as many of these items as they can. They put them in a coconut shell and bury them by the front door. This coconut shell marks the holy resting place of the unborn brothers. The spot, like a shrine, is forever tended to. The four brothers represent four virtues – intelligence, friendship, strength and poetry. When a person dies, the four spirit brothers collect the soul and bring it to heaven.

I think this is beautiful. It reminds me of the practice I came across in Vietnam, where parents bury the placenta in the backyard. This marks a person’s place of origin and gives them somewhere to come back to throughout their lives.

I had very much wanted to copy this Vietnamese tradition and as strange as my husband thought it was, I wanted to bury River’s placenta in our backyard. We’re renting and won’t be here forever. But I wanted a part of him to remain at his place of origin. I wanted him to know that he’ll forever have a link to that place.

Most unfortunately, our hospital would not allow me to take my own placenta from the hospital. I think this is completely ridiculous given that it’s my body part. When I looked online, I saw that women who sue over this generally tend to win. But I didn’t look into it in a timely enough manner to be able to fight the hospital to get my placenta back.

Should we have another child at some point, this is something I’d discuss with the hospital administration as soon as we’ve chosen a place to give birth. And should they decline to allow me my placenta, I will fight it next time.


Momo Fali said...

What?! It's YOUR placenta! That's ridiculous. They should give it to you, no questions asked.

Lori Pickert said...

what a beautiful story. i love it.