Time to panic. Our second baby is due in one month, and we haven’t even settled on a name yet. Having been through this all before, I thought it would be easier the second time around, but that’s just not the case.
My wife and I know better now. We know more. We’re faced with a ton of options that we weren’t aware of before. Some of these options are more of the usual, some are cutting edge science and some are just plain bizarre.
We’re talking “Survivor”’s bug-eating levels of bizarre. We’re talking everything from giving birth underwater, to freezing your baby’s cord blood for future gene therapy, to cooking your placenta and chowing down on it later. Yes, these are the options we’re faced with in modern childbirth. Just relax and enjoy the show. Oh, and feel free to panic at any time.
Speaking of panicking, that was what I was doing when our first baby was being delivered. I was a deer caught in the headlights, mesmerized until the nurses screamed at me to start taking photos. My wife, meanwhile, turned out to be some kind of Olympic champion of childbirth. She was fully dilated in minutes before the doctor even arrived at the operating room, pushed my baby boy out in five epic pushes, and later had the audacity to complain that she didn’t need the epidural. I brag about her every chance I get.
It’s no wonder then that this time around, our OB recommends that we do a water birth, or as I see it, she wants to raise the difficulty for my Olympic champion.
The benefits are clear: It’s cheaper. There are other benefits such as less trauma for the baby, pain relief for the mother that immersion in water gives, and the lowered need for an episiotomy (look it up!), but I didn’t hear anything else after the doctor said that it’s cheaper.
So we went on the tour of the St. Luke’s Global City water birth facilities, where the nurses proudly showed us the humongous bathtub and gorgeous suite, and whispered to us that Maricel Laxa had given birth there. And hey, if it’s good enough for Maricel Laxa…
…It may not be good enough for the wife, who voiced discomfort about giving birth naked in a giant bathtub, far from pain-killing drugs and baby-monitoring machines. Critics of water birth also point out the increased risk of infection as you get water all the way up your wazoo, though the numbers show no significant difference.
Save the cord blood? Or save money?
Another difficult decision that we’ll have to make soon is whether to save the baby’s cord blood or save that money for the kid’s future instead.
Cord blood contains stem cells, and if you paid attention during science class, then you know that stem cells can differentiate into any cell that the human body requires. Say, if you develop leukemia, then your body needs new bone marrow. The stem cells from cord blood can be made to create this new bone marrow. Have a burn? Squirt some stem cells on it to make new skin. It’s literally the future of medicine.
Science class over. Here’s the wager: Saving your baby’s cord blood can provide a cure/treatment for 80 diseases, such as some forms of leukemia, lymphoma and cerebral palsy. This branch of medical science also promises even more cures for things like heart disease and diabetes in the not-too-distant future. On the other hand, the chances of your child getting one of the diseases that cord blood can treat today are incredibly slim to non-existent. On the other other hand, having a cure for one those diseases would be priceless.
The price of this wager? A wallet-gutting P40,000 plus VAT upon signing up, and another P8,000 plus VAT for every year thereafter until your child is 18, at which point you can choose to transfer costs to him or her. Hmmm…
Your placenta: Throw away, bury, or EAT?
After the successful birth of our first son, a nurse popped in to ask us what we wanted to do with the placenta. She had the thing in a see-through plastic bag, and it looked like two very bloody kilos of lean beef, or a liver, or something in between. The last response in my head was, “I’d like to cook it and feed it to my wife.”
Move aside, “Bizarre Food.” More and more people are saying that eating your placenta after childbirth is a good idea. Or could it just be the latest fad?
The practice of eating your placenta landed on our radar as my wife was researching ways to avoid post-partum depression. The numbers vary, but it’s estimated that 80 percent of women experience some form of post-partum depression, and my wife was one of them.
It’s believed that eating your placenta can reduce post-partum depression and do a whole bunch of other good stuff, like help mothers’ uterus return to normal size and even stimulate milk production.
If you’re interested in chowing down on your afterbirth after birth, you should know that as of now, there are no medical institutions that support this practice in the Philippines. Depending on the hospital, however, it is mostly not difficult to come home with your placenta since the practice of burying your placenta in your backyard with a tree is commonplace.
Preparing the placenta for ingestion remains a strictly DIY process. You steam it, dry it, grind it and then place it in capsules that you ingest like medicine. (So there go my dreams of seeing my wife wolf down a chunk of raw meat like Daenerys in “Game of Thrones.”)
Jenny Ong, from the blog Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, had her placenta encapsulated in the States. “With my first born, I cried every day from day three until about she was one month,” she said. “With E (my second child), I only cried once the entire time.
“I managed to take care of both kids without losing my sanity,” Jenny went on to say, something that we’re hoping for with our second baby. “I also would like to think that it affected my milk supply.”
The older I get, the more I realize that unlike the Rolling Stones song, time is not on my side. In less than a month, my wife and I will have to decide on a number of things that may affect the rest of our lives in very significant ways. I don’t know what we’ll decide on right now. I only know that the choices we make will be with our family’s best interests in mind. That’s all the world asks of us. And in the end, whatever happens, everything will be fine. No need to panic.