Showers, champagne, and flame trees: Celebrating and commemorating birth

It is 7:45 on Monday morning. I have been up for two hours already. Dominic’s “secondhand milk” score this morning is my hair, two of my tee shirts, two of his outfits, his play mat, and our bedspread. When he’s not fussing at the moment, he is lying around looking like a tiny, grumpy, Dr. Evil (Austin Powers, for those of you not familiar with that reference). Given what I wrote last week about how actions determine attitude, this seems like the perfect morning for me to write about celebrating Dominic’s birth.

So, celebrations. The first thing I did to celebrate Dominic’s birth was take a shower. Trust me, after you’ve gone through labour and delivery you experience (and remember) that post-birth shower as a celebratory event indeed.

But moving right along to communal activities where everyone was fully clothed and no one was hemorrhaging…

The first thing Mike and I did together to celebrate was drink champagne. Yes, we took champagne and glasses in a cooler to the hospital. In fact, we managed to remember to pack the chilled champagne when we left for the hospital at 5AM but not the apple juice I was planning on drinking during labour. Maybe I should have tried drinking the champagne during labour, come to think of it. If there’s ever a next time (which is still very much in doubt) maybe I will.

Three days later, my first evening home from the hospital, we had a welcome home “wine-o-clock” and baby’s first tasting. It was a gorgeous evening out on the deck. I had my first brie in nine months and Dominic had his first taste of anything but me. Yes, we did feed our three-day-old baby wine (if you can call a drop or two on the end of Mike’s finger “feeding”). The wine was a Bowen Estates Shiraz – one of the few bottles that was left over from the rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding. As you can see, Dominic loved it.

The next day we planted Dominic’s commemorative tree.

The story behind the tree started during the last trimester of pregnancy, when Mike was in Laos and I was attending childbirth classes in Australia by myself.

The woman running the childbirth classes was not only a fan of natural childbirth, she was a fan of burying the placenta.

“She said that women need to honour the placenta,” I told Mike one night via skype. “She says you should respect this organ that’s nourished your baby for nine months by taking it home from the hospital and having a burial ceremony, maybe burying it under a tree. Honour it? I don’t even want to see it. As far as I’m concerned the hospital can totally keep it.”

I waited for Mike to agree with me that this practice of honouring the placenta was weird and sort of icky.

“I don’t know,” Mike said. “I think it’s sort of cool. The Hmong here in Laos consider the placenta the baby’s first and finest clothing. They bury it close to home, or under the house, and believe that when a person dies their soul must retrace it’s journey to the placenta’s resting place. I want to bury Dominic’s placenta under a tree – a new tree that can grow as he grows.”

“OK,” I said, sighing and resigning myself to entering into the spirit of things for the sake of my spouse. “Dad’s going to love this. Now he will not only get to worry about protecting the tree commemorating our wedding from any wandering goats and the ride-on mower, but the tree commemorating his first grandson.”

In the end Dominic got two trees. We picked a Blood Tree the first time we went to the nursery, and then decided we didn’t like it as much as an Illawarra Flame Tree. We planted them both anyway. Mike symbolically shed a drop of his blood over the roots of the Blood Tree using the diaper pin they’d given us at the hospital and we planted the flame tree over the placenta (don’t worry, I’m so not going to show you any photos of placenta). Then we prayed together for Dominic and for this journey we were embarking upon – this journey of parenthood.

Over to you: How did you celebrate and commemorate the birth of your children? Have you heard any cool stories of how other people did? Share them in the comments section below (or just say hello, that’s fine too). 

6 responses to “Showers, champagne, and flame trees: Celebrating and commemorating birth

  1. So enjoying your perspectives on childbirth and motherhood, Lisa, and the memories they evoke! Did you ever read Dave Barry’s Babies and Other Hazards of Sex? I recall a line suggesting that being forced to look at a placenta would be a fine sentence for a convicted criminal. Although we missed the memo about burying the placenta, I did ask to see it after our daughters’ births, ’cause I thought it was so cool. But I enjoyed dissecting a fetal pig in the tenth grade also . . .

    • Even after going through with the whole burying the placenta thing and growing in to thinking it was a sort of cool ceremonial thing to do I still think the placenta itself is, well, just not high up there on my scale of fun things to look at. Sort of fascinating, I will admit, but not fun. Not when you’re sitting on an hours worth of stitching to examine it and it’s all just a little too fresh 🙂

  2. Michelle Williams

    WOW, yet again… HUGE differences in our two experiences. And we’re sisters, for crying out loud!!! Close sisters 🙂 My shower was definately NOT immediately following birth given I had a wound from left to right and couldn’t stand up straight. I know I DID shower before leaving the hospital, but heck, I was there for another 5 days after that point, so who knows?! As for celebratory events I have so little memory of the first few WEEKS that I have to resort to pictures. But, YAY, I did find one – Tahli’s first public outing was for ICECREAM. It was the size of her head, but I don’t think I was open enough to SHARE any of mine with her 🙂 I LOVE YOUR WRITING, LIS! I know your moments are precious these days, but PLEASE KEEP ON KEEPING ON 🙂

    • Ha ha haaaa… I wrote that that ice cream was the size of her head on your facebook wall before reading this comment. We so are sisters. Close sisters :). PS, she was scary small.

  3. I came across your blog on the Witers tag on wordpress. I love your style as well as your subject matter. I can relate to your stories about new motherhood, having given birth to 3 kids myself. I have written a lot of stories about my own crazy life on my blog. I look forward to following you. Keep writing. Do not give up on your book. The quote about writing is true. Write what you need to say. Damn the naysayers!
    Jenni in Philadelphia

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