Since Halloween is just around the corner, I’ve decided to devote this week’s column to one of the most talked about – and by far the bloodiest – subjects featured on STFU, Parents: placentas! When I first started the blog back in March of 2009, I was as clueless about the tree of life as your average frat boy, but over the years I’ve come to learn that placentas, which technically qualify as medical waste, can be dealt with in myriad ways.
You can bury it under a tree (some people store it in the freezer like a wedding cake topper and bury the placenta on their baby’s first birthday). You can oven dry it and encapsulate it. You can make art with it (except I usually call it “art”). You can eat it (consider for a moment: placenta sushi, placenta smoothies, placenta in the raw, placenta sandwiches…you get my point). Hell, some parents practice the lotus birth method and let the placenta sit in a bowl next to their baby until the baby’s umbilical cord naturally detaches. Two and a half years into running the site, I have to say I feel a bit like a placenta scholar, and I can probably answer more questions about placenta traditions and entrees than I ever thought possible prior to (or even after) having a child of my own. It’s an unexpected “perk” of the job, if you will.
But that doesn’t mean that I ever get used to receiving submissions that deal with placentas. I am still just as surprised that people discuss this subject – and often proudly include photographs – as the readers of the blog. And I still get grossed out on a regular basis. The fact is, just because this temporary organ nourished your child for nine months in the womb doesn’t mean everyone wants to see it, or even hear about it. I understand what’s beautiful about a placenta in concept, and I respect that some women choose to consume it, but those things should have nothing to do with Facebook. Ever. And yet, the more I wish the trend would just go away, the more I see (blood) red…and occasionally shades of grey. So in honor of Halloween, here are some examples of why it’s a bad idea to brag about your placenta on Facebook:
1. It’s Not As Funny As You Think
One thing that’s interesting about placenta submissions is that about half of them are written by new dads. Dads get a real kick out of the placenta, not only for its ability to sustain life but also for being a pancake of fleshy grossness. Something about the yuck factor amuses them endlessly, but personally I find this placenta extract / jam joke kind of nauseating. I don’t usually wonder about what’s in my friends’ refrigerators, but I’d like to think that if I ever opened one there wouldn’t be a container of placenta extract sitting behind a jar of marmalade.
2. It’s Not As Beautiful As You Think
Kate’s argument is one that I hear a lot. “But I don’t want to see people drinking heavily or making out or wearing skimpy clothing on Facebook, and I see that stuff all the time! My little sister is in college, and you should see what she wears out on a Friday night! It’s horrifying!” But you know what? Nothing is as horrifying as catching a surprise glimpse of your buddy’s wife’s placenta when you’re just sitting down to a nice crisp salad in the middle of the workday to read your newsfeed. Bare midriffs and body shots are not the same thing as bloody, veiny organs. Let’s all get that straight.
3. No One Wants To See It
See what I mean? Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but this picture is just plain nasty. Pro-tip: If you’ve captioned a photo related to the birth of your child with the words “GROSS!” and “messed up looking jellyfish,” you should definitely not hit “publish.”
Happy early Halloween!