We are paring down our herds and flocks in preparation for the next creature coming to Scrumble Wood: our own, expected early this January (or whenever the babe chooses to arrive).
I am 15 weeks pregnant writing this. Most of the myriad pregnancy literature promises women that they'll start feeling better by 8 weeks! by 12 weeks! by the second trimester for sure ... except for those unlucky few who experience exhaustion and nausea/vomiting through the second trimester, and, OK, also those unlucky very few who experience that unpleasantness basically until they're holding their babe.
I'm not sure which of the two latter camps I fall in, but I am awed by the women who, throughout pregnancy, keep going with their lives, who throw up in their office building bathrooms or lock their office doors to catch a nap on the floor. I have basically given up any semblance of normal life. I'm lucky that I'm not throwing up all day every day, but it's frequent enough to derail my/our normal routines. I'm so lucky to have a day job that is exceedingly flexible and a partner who is incredibly patient, loving, and supportive.
What does pregnancy while farming look like? I couldn't really tell you, because I basically stopped doing any real farm work the night I joined Vincent for chores, threw up as soon as I smelled animal smells, and watched the dogs gobble up my vomit. I helped with slinging hay and basically slept the entire rest of the day, and the next day as well. I never understood the true intensity of exhaustion.
Vincent has been carrying the whole Scrumble World by his capable but tired self. Chores every day, moving animals, new fencing, new shelters, getting birds ready for slaughter, HAY. I've continued to go get the grain, but he unloads the 1,000+ pounds by himself.
I'm sleeping whenever I can, which tends to mean hanging out wide awake and frustrated from 2 a.m. - 4 a.m. and sleeping through the mornings. And then, some days, throwing up the rest of the afternoon/evening. I know so many women have to fight through this exhaustion — to hustle after older children or care for parents or wait tables or, to continue to be a presence in the classroom or boardroom, to continue managing a small business when you don't have anyone else to rely on, to navigate the intensity of addiction or withdrawal or the indignities of incarceration while also suffering what feels like the invasion of the body snatchers. Those women are superheroes. I am so grateful to be able to indulge my body by acquiescing to its needs, and to do so within the private sanctuary of my own home.
My sudden and immense debilitation has really underscored just how unwieldy and untidy our little farmstead had become. We have been rather overwhelmed for a while, doing so much and feeling like we're not doing anything particularly well. So it's nice to have a reason and a deadline to be ruthless in our calculations of what we'll need going forward, but it's extremely tough mentally, emotionally, physically for Vincent to be doing the vast majority of the work by himself. (It's also a hardship — though an absolute privilege — to grow a soul.)
At the beginning of pregnancy, we had:
22 hogs, including four sows and two boars
A sort of sad garden
... a bunch of rats :(
By November, we're aiming to have:
2 dogs (3 dogs? The addition of a rat-assassin terrier?)
A freezer/pantry full of whatever fruit and vegetables we managed to grow and put up
... probably still a bunch of rats :(
I keep thinking about how reproduction — in one form or another — is one of the basic parts of the biological life cycle that all living creatures share, even if choice or situation prevents them from pursuing procreation. I think about the women of ancient times, who were responsible for the cooking and brewing and spinning and weaving and milking ... all of the general family management, plus bringing in additional income ... regardless of how they felt on a particular day. I think about the queens whose lives and legacies depended on which sex sperm her kingly husband offered and about the women who served as wet nurses for others' children so they could combine the realities of motherhood with the ever-pressing need for an income. I think about the women who have whole villages of support and love and the women who are doing this thing all alone.
It's amazing to me that in 2018, with so much scientific, statistical, medical, sociological knowledge, we give women and mothers and expectant mothers so little respect or support. Our country charges women thousands and thousands of dollars to experience what are often traumatic labors and births in hospitals, and then we, as often as not, send them back to work within a couple weeks, don't check in on how their bodies and psyches are healing, and expect them to juggle this whole new sphere of responsibility while also maintaining and meeting other societal expectations. It's crazy. Not to mention the very real, scary, and arguably selfish implications of bringing more people onto a planet that is already crumbling under shortsighted or downright negligent care.
Pregnancy is a humbling, magic-and-love-shrouded biological pursuit that derails normalcy and demands sacrifice. I have so much respect for the women who choose it, for the women who don't or didn't, for the partners who carry the burdens of their suddenly sick and tired family with perseverance and without complaint. And to the women who continue to slog through the intense physicality of farming despite the constant vomit and the debilitating exhaustion: You, especially, are wonder women. Thanks for continuing the hard, rewarding work of growing food while also growing a soul.