Doula blog about pregnancy, childbirth, children's books, cooking with children and parenting
There's something special about kids and their dogs. My kids grew up with a dog that we all loved very much. His name was Taz. My daughter and Taz were inseparable, best friends.
As years went on, Taz grew old and no longer had the energy to play with my daughter. Instead, he kept a watchful eye on her from the front porch. A mass developed on his chest that we later learned was bone cancer. With arthritic hips and advanced age, the best we could do was keep him comfortable.
Taz eventually lost his ability to walk. The pain medications became ineffective, even at the highest dosage. One night, Taz began screaming and howling in agony. We took him to the vet's office where the vet confirmed that the cancer had spread to his spine. Taz was suffering.
Euthanizing the family dog was difficult even though we knew we were ending his pain and suffering. It was especially difficult because my husband and I had to tell our young children that Taz was going to die. They were comforted by having the opportunity to say good-bye. They hugged him and gave him treats. Then they said good-bye one last time.
Birth and death seem like direct opposites; however, they share some similarities. Birth and death are transitions. When I had my first child, I transitioned into motherhood. My old sense of self died. Moments after my daughter was born, I delivered the placenta. I inspected it with my midwife. The placenta was, in a sense, dying at that moment of my daughter’s birth. Its job of sustaining my baby’s life while in my womb was complete. I felt a sense of gratitude as I looked at it. I didn't want to discard such a precious organ as medical waste. It deserved something better, but I didn't know what. I stored the placenta in my the deep freezer for safe keeping until I could figure out how to honor it.
When Taz died, we had a short burial ceremony in our backyard. I think by including our children in the burial ceremony, they were able to understand death better. My daughter wrote Taz a letter and placed it in the grave with him. Then I went to the freezer and pulled out my daughter's placenta that had sustained her life while I carried her in my womb. I placed her placenta in the grave next to Taz and whispered, "Job well done."
Kira Kimble is a doula trainer, certified doula and doula mentor. She is the owner of MINE-R-T Doula Company in Charlotte, NC