Almost everything about farming involves reproduction. We plant seeds, we breed livestock, we gather eggs and fruit. Which means that if you happen to be trying to get pregnant while living on a farm, your world is ripe with metaphors to over analyze or ignore as you see fit.
Birth control was abandoned in February, just around the same time the first packets of seeds started to arrive. By March, I was in the dreaded two week wait between when you think you ovulated and when you can pee on a store-bought stick to test for hCG (the pregnancy hormone), and here on the farm we inspected the udders of our sheep to figure out if any of the ewes were in a family way. By the time of our first and oh so disastrous lambing, I knew we weren’t pregnant. Losing both the lamb and the mother that night felt like an omen. By the next two, much more successful lambings, my faith in nature and fertility was restored. I picked up a book by Ina May Gaskin, because if I could revive a baby lamb, I could certainly pull off a VBAC. The day our last ewe went into labor and the vet was unable to save her lamb, I got my period. How fitting.
I started to grow envious of our rabbits. Drop her in his cage for an hour and you’ll have a mess of bunnies in a mere 28 days. That’s the same span of time as the average cycle of a human female. So in the time it takes our doe to gestate her litter, I get one shot at getting pregnant. We don’t even need to talk about the whole nine months vs. four weeks discrepancy, as I couldn’t see past the getting pregnant part of the whole fertility “journey.” Instead, I bought an ovulation predictor kit, as each successive batch of rabbits was starting to taunt me.
In late May, our surrogate chicken Ashley was sitting on a batch of guinea eggs. She hatched out ten keats a week past her due date, which seemed like a small miracle after the goose failed to hatch out anything and I was lamenting having to buy an incubator. A week later, I found out I was pregnant.
June was spent in a tired stupor. I was exhausted, I was nauseous, I was just so excited to be having another child (see, I had a good excuse for posting so little as of late). Like my first pregnancy, I was hit with a serious vinegar aversion, so one batch of bread and butter pickles was all I could muster. Will harvested glorious vegetables, none of which I could stomach. I lived on a farm but I was eating like a truck driver – ginger ale, grilled cheese, pizza. When I started feeling particularly pregnant, I’d focus on the fabulous two week vacation awaiting me, where family could look after Alston and I could sleep away the last two weeks of my first trimester.
While we were on vacation, a heat wave killed our mama rabbit and her entire liter. And I miscarried. The day before I was to head back to the farm.
And now, we are staring at the gilts and comparing them to pictures on the internet to figure out how many of our pigs are pregnant. We’ve moved the New Hampshire Red hens and rooster down to the lower coop to up the chances of having fertilized eggs for Ashley to hatch out. We’re trying to find a New Zealand doe for our rabbit buck. Will is pulling down the blighted tomato vines and tilling up the garden plot to plant seeds for the fall. And we will start trying again for another child.
In the spirit of over-sharing, I wrote an essay immediately following the miscarriage, and The Hairpin just published it. Just in case you ever thought to yourself “gosh, I wonder what it’s like to have miscarriage” now you can know. But be warned, it’s not something you can un-know (or at least, youcan’t unknow about me) so click at your own risk.