after birth

December 30, 2019

According to the goat folks stats, 19 out of 20 goats births are uneventful, with most happening at night. Guess we’re lucky, with our first go at it being rather, er, eventful. In all truth, it was a traumatic event for us—especially for Peter. He’s the nurturer out of the two of us. So from the time when labor began and the time it took me to get home once we realized it was, as he texted me, “not going well,” Peter was in crisis mode. His main fear, when the first kid was clearly not moving, and stuck in breach position, was for Re. He feared she was giving up, and that she wasn’t going to make it.
We have no way of knowing if she would or would not have gotten through it had the birth taken place at a more “normal” time, without us being involved. But, from all appearances, with the kid lodged in there for hours before I got home, Peter’s fear was well-founded.
– [ ] In hindsight, we realized that all the pieces came together in a way that we could never have planned out on the checklist. I’d been frustrated that day-that week, rather-by what I felt was my inability to efficiently work through the prep I still have to do before classes start in January. I still have textbooks to purchase, immunizations to get, insurance to figure out, and uniforms to order. I’ve tried to get one thing done each day but I don’t.
– [ ] The day the kids were born Peter had intended to come into town with me. We’d been expecting the kids for weeks already, not really knowing how close she was. In the morning feeding she hadn’t seemed ready that day but, regardless, Peter hesitated to leave. He felt pulled to stay close to home.
– [ ] I headed out as planned but did not “accomplish” what I thought I would. And I wavered about a small thing, canceling an appointment while kicking myself for doing so. I felt childishly indecisive.
– [ ] Had I kept that appointment I would have been unable to get home when I did. As it was, I was able to tell Peter I was on the way. Part of the ride home was spent on the phone with him, more just listening to the sounds of our bleating goat and Peter’s repeated “I’m afraid she’s giving up …” Closer to home I thought of a reliable, fellow farmer friend who, I knew, would have good counsel. Though she’d raised goats for many years, she told me she’d actually never had to assist. But she confirmed my suspicion that I was going to need to deal with, as it were, flesh and blood.
– [ ] With a surreal sense of detachment from my own actions, I ended up surveying the situation and, when I realized I was having no luck grasping another limb to pull the breached kid out, thought of another solution. The kid behind it was pushing forward enough that I thought I could probably get a good handle on it. If so, I thought that I could pull it out and, in so doing, loosen the path for the first one. It worked. And while I still had the one in my hands, loosening the casing to get it’s airways clear, the third kid slid out behind it. The first was a stillborn but we had two clearly healthy girls.
– [ ] In many ways I feel as if Peter and I are still in a kind of post-traumatic haze. I’ve encouraged him to take the time he needs to just sit with, and be with, the kids. It feels strangely (presumptuously?) as if our childless selves are getting to experience what it’s like, in some small and sheepish manner, to be new parents.
– [ ] The past few days have involved a decent amount of proud-parent-like photo display and kid-talk and a lot of massage, due to some mastitis on one side. But I’ve also been battling a case of amped up nerves, constantly checking myself for onsets of inexplicably fear and shallow, rapid breathing. I keep apologizing to Peter and saying “I don’t know what’s wrong with me…”
– [ ] Yet, in the grand scheme of things, we know that all is well. And we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a greater hand was in play when we were feeling uncertain and incapable. I suspect that we will continue to feel-and to BE-the same. We will also, however, continue to be gently but firmly guided by a hand that knows the way home.


December 16, 2019

Angsty. That’s the only word I could think of to explain my emotional off-ness as we left church yesterday. My intended apology to my husband came out sounding rather more like a justification than an explanation for my recent string of childish negativity.
Our conversation was paused then for cow-sitting duties. We fed, watered, and milked (all of the 4 tablespoons or so that the calves had left behind), and then I poked around in the garden, filling a bag with carrots, turnips, and spinach (and a goodly amount of dirt clumps that came along for the ride).
We resumed the conversation while on our afternoon walk. Trying to explain my feeling that I wasn’t doing enough-being enough-in the world (i.e. in my own family, from what I perceived expectations of involvement in each other’s lives to be), I blurted out that “Everyone is everywhere, all the time…”
“Sounds kind of like God,” Peter replied.
Caught up in my own mind, the profundity of his statement was lost on me in the moment. I continued.
“…There’s always a need someone has, or a wedding or funeral to attend, and other people seem to be able to handle so much more than I can. I just don’t do enough!”
In the quiet after I finished, it occurred to me that Peter was, of course, right. Wise, rather. I was putting divine expectations on human limitations. I guess being officially middle-aged has not yet automatically wizened me.
This morning I was gathering clean rags from the janitor closet while 5th grade posed in front of the Christmas tree for a class photo. On a whim, I did a full ballet leap in front of them, photobombing with a handful of rags in one hand and a can of spray cleaner in the other.
A bit later I passed them in the hallway. One child nudged another, saying “She was in our photo.” The teacher winked at me. “You’re a celebrity now,” she said, smiling. “They loved that.” I smiled back at her, and at them.
Maybe not everywhere. Maybe not all the time. But maybe, sometimes, at just the right place, at just the right time.

*they did not actually get a photo of me as I leapt. But I figure our goats are a decent substitute for me :)