Friday, August 28, 2009

And She Ate It...

Did you know that there are four, not three, stages of labor? The first, of course, is the painful contractions ending in a lovely ten centimeter dilation, the second is the whole painful pushing part, the third is the birth of your beautiful baby, and the fourth is delivering the placenta, romantically known as the AFTERBIRTH!

This got me thinking about life. Is life divided into four stages? The first stage beginning with the innocence of childhood and ending with the awkward and sometimes painful high school years. The second stage starting with the whole college thing and then ending with the big push for the perfect career as you try to find yourself while searching for your perfect soul mate. The third commencing with the decision to marry your soul mate and ending with the creation of a family of your own. And the fourth beginning with those children you raised and happily gave your life to, flying the coup, leaving you in menopausal hell with every ache and pain imaginable, reminiscent of the lovely AFTERBIRTH, and ending in, well, death.

Great. In this scenario that leaves me with the AFTERBIRTH stage to look forward to. Have you ever seen 'AFTERBIRTH?' To my recollection, it isn't pretty. My husband, Tom, turned his head, and I still heard him gag.

But what about all my wonderful friends who have decided for one reason or another not to have children? Do they have a much more highly developed second stage of life? Recently, I had the wonderful fortune of reconnecting with a dear friend of mine living in Manhattan who never had children. She is beautiful, graceful, smart, witty, and kind. And she is also completely and utterly interesting. She will never have to worry about 'afterbirth!' And, may I add, she hasn't aged a day in the over twenty years I have known her. Is it to late for me to become like my friend and basically get a life?

I awoke early this morning, covered in sweat, just another wonderful aspect of womanhood. I lay there trying to fall back to sleep. My mind shifted to something Kyle said earlier in the evening. We were all watching the last episode of the season for a new television show called ROYAL PAINS. At the end of the program, the announcer said in his announcer voice, "ROYAL PAINS WILL BE BACK NEXT SUMMER!" Kyle screamed at the TV, "I'll be a senior next summer." And there it was again...his resounding benediction that he is growing up and leaving home, real soon. The countdown begins and it seems to be marked by the announcer in my television set.

So, I tossed a little and thought some more. It was also my youngest son Will's first day of school yesterday, and he bought his own ice cream from the ice cream truck (I did make him a mint chip milk shake for dinner) instead of our annual ritual. And then, after he came home, I had made an appointment with an orthopedic masseuse for my aching back. Now, normally I would have never done this. Number one, I hate any kind of doctor-like appointments and number two I would never have scheduled something on Will's first day of school. Was I getting a bit of my independence back? Is this really the first days of the rest of my life?

This thinking got me focused on a real AFTERBIRTH. I just read an article in Time Magazine by Joel Stein. The poor sucker had to collect his wife's afterbirth following the birth of their son, then bring it home and watch his wife eat it! Of course, they called 'a placenta lady' to come over and fix it all up in their kitchen with all kinds of herbs and then freeze dry it into little capsules. Are you grossed out yet? They say it helps with postpartum depression and milk supply. And Mr. Stein's wife is going to save some for menopause. It seems the placenta is also good for fighting pain.

So, I come away thinking that for the AFTERBIRTH stage of my life, I should have saved my AFTERBIRTH. Perhaps. But, I also recognize that the placenta has so many wonderful nutrients and proteins. It is filled with wonderful things. I hope my AFTERBIRTH stage will be filled with everything good for me, and, maybe, just maybe, a little of its painkilling effects. That would be useful right now.

(c) 2009 Terry Castle


  1. I still have kids at home and I, too, dread the day they leave home. I love that you have started a community so I don't feel so alone.

  2. Ahhh--now I know what to have with my faava beans and a nice Chianti.