Family Memories & Reflections

Skyler’s First Birthday: Planting a Tree with his Placenta

I meant to post this on Skyler’s birthday last month, but I just never got around to it. You know how it goes. So, a month later, I’m reflecting on the very unusual birthday that we held for our baby during quarantine.

March 21, 2020

One year ago today, we met our sweet baby Skyler for the first time. What a day that was! Unexpected, excruciating, so fast, and full of so much joy.

We were fortunate enough to have the home birth we wanted and planned for. Nothing went how we had expected, nothing happened like everyone said it would. Thankfully, though, the overall plan worked out. I got to give birth to my son on my terms, at home in our bedroom, with the team of people I chose, with the cats nearby, without interventions or any additional stress other than what my body was already going through. I got to recover in my own bed, cared for by my mom and husband and an incredible team of women. I think of that day often, and am still somewhat amazed that Skyler emerged onto this planet on March 21. 3 and 21 have always been my two favorite (and lucky) numbers; 321 was in screen names and passcodes and email addresses for much of my youth. And now it’s immortalized as my son’s birthday. Lucky for both of us now!

Everyone always says the days are long and the years are short, which I understood (haven’t we all had days where we think “high school was just yesterday” and then realize we’re in our 30s) but have felt much more intensely over the last 365 days. Our boy is a year old!?!?!? How is that even possible.

We’ve been blessed with a pretty chill baby, one who laughs and sleeps easily, who loves going out with us, and adapts to whatever craziness comes his way whether it’s three weeks around South America or living at his grandparents’ for a week since we had no power post-tornado or avoiding people and quarantining during a global pandemic. He’s been a joy to travel with and on the hard days, I always look at the pictures I took that day before I go to sleep because his face makes me smile so much.

After Skyler emerged a year ago, his placenta soon followed, and the midwives promptly packaged it up in several grocery bags and tucked it in our freezer, where it has remained for the last year. Today is not going to be the birthday we had planned for our little Mooch as we’ve had to postpone his party indefinitely, but we still have a few special things planned and will enjoy today just us, Justin and me, the cats and their furless brother, our little family.

21 April 2020

In many cultures around the world, it is customary to bury the baby’s placenta sometime after birth. We chose to do so on his first birthday. All of the traditions vary slightly, but many are related to the idea that by burying the placenta, we root the child to his birth place, allowing him to always find his way back home. And that struck me as such a lovely sentiment. We decided to expand on the tradition by planting a tree for Skyler.

The weather was beautiful, and my husband, having already shed traditional gender roles by baking Skyler’s birthday cake slipped them back on to dig the hole. Originally, I had wanted to write something formal to say as we did this, but after dumping the defrosted placenta into the ground, I didn’t feel like I needed to say much. 

Dear Skyler, may you always find your way home. We love you.

Justin covered the tree’s roots as I packed the kiddo up to go inside. Now, we look at Skyler’s cherry tree every day, and I’m excited to watch it grow over the years alongside our son.

Though his first birthday was affected by this quarantine, we did not let being stuck at home alone keep us from celebrating, and one of these days we’re going to have the tiki party we had planned. It will just be a post-Covid celebration instead. 🙂

What cool traditions have you created for your kids’ birthdays? Did you keep their placentas? How have you celebrated any birthdays during the pandemic?

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