Third Trimester

I wasn't sure how long I would be working, but I wound up working into the third trimester and then some. I still had energy, I was feeling extremely large - that cute belly phase was long gone - and I just wanted to stay active. 

When I was 35-ish weeks we built a new green house - not really recommended, but it had to be done. We figured it would be done in a weekend but it wound up taking the two of us longer; with the final phase - the pulling over the green house plastic - being done during a storm. I was climbing up and down ladders and pulling plastic tied to a rope, things that would make my mother cringe, but the midwife told me 'you're pregnant, not sick' and told me as long as I felt comfortable I could continue to work. 

Once it was up I started seeding onions, figuring it would be my last seeding for a while. But my due date came and passed, so I took it as a blessing in disguise and started seeding our spring crops - and finished seeding them and there was still no baby. Once I was done seeding and the field was still cover cropped, there was really nothing I could do to keep my mind off of the fact that there was still no labor no baby, but I needed to find something. I was getting messages and calls every day from people asking if the baby was here yet - which, incase you dont know, is not something you should ask someone who is past their due date. They will let you know when the baby comes.

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 I told family and friends that I was taking a break from everything and going 'off line' until the baby came, simply because I couldn't take it any more. I spent too much time researching how to induce labor naturally and tried all the things - long walks, bouncing on a ball, spicy food, visualization, sex, you name it - I tried it. And nothing was working. People I knew were going in to labor, having babies before their due date and it was all getting to me.

I felt like this baby was never going to come out, I told my husband that I was going to be the first person in history who just stayed pregnant and never went into labor. 

At some point I just couldn't take it any more and I just stopped; I stopped reading about it, stopped thinking about it and tried to enjoy this weird in-between time. I did some things for myself, binge watched netflix, went swimming and ate lots of cookies. In the end August was 2 weeks late and the labor and birth were a doozie - but thats a story for another time. 

Looking back, the last few weeks felt longer than the entire pregnancy. Time seemed to go slower and I only got bigger and bigger. If you're in this phase right now, know that I FEEL YOU, it will be over soon. Try to have a sense of humor and treat yo self. 

Second Trimester

The second trimester was supposed to be the “sweet spot”.

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Since I didn’t have morning sickness in the first trimester, the sweet spot I was looking forward to was having more energy. And I did, but it wasn’t the incredibly high amounts that I had been looking forward to; or maybe it was - but the difference was me - I was moving slower. I noticed it would take me longer to complete the same tasks I had been performing for over 6 seasons. On the long hot harvest days of summer, I started to get these strange crampy feelings, which to me was my body telling me that I needed to go sit down in the shade and drink some water; I later realized they were braxton hicks contractions.

The Thursday to Sunday harvest to market grind was tough, and by the end of the day on Sundays my legs and feet would be swollen from all the standing.

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And to top it off, I still didn’t really look pregnant, just big. I wanted people to know, but I felt super awkward bringing it up. “Yup, those are Early Girl tomatoes, sorry we sold out of Sungolds, oh, by the way I’m pregnant.”

I had to do some deep internal digging during the second trimester, and redefine “productive”. Pre-pregnancy, a productive day for me was getting everything on my list crossed off and then some, cruising through chores, plantings, harvest lists, deliveries and coming home and still having energy to make dinner. During pregnancy that wasn’t realistic.

I started to prioritize the daily and weekly tasks and decided what could be left undone. I had been the one who made the majority of our meals, and I suddenly had no desire to cook or inspiration in the kitchen beyond smoothies, so a lot of the cooking duties fell on my husbands shoulders. We’re lucky to have family so close, and when my mom found out how hard of a time I was having with meals, she would make three or four meals and bring them to us at markets to help us supplement our weeks dinners.

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And all of this made me feel bad, like I was being lazy and not living up to my full potential, and it took my midwife reminding me over and over again that I was pregnant. I was building a human. Just because I couldn’t see what was going on inside of me, shouldn’t make me feel unproductive.

 

First Trimester

My first trimester farming was exhausting.

All I had heard about from friends and seen in movies and on tv was morning sickness. You know, so and so gets sick and someone asks her when her last period was and she gets this crazy realization that she's pregnant, and then she has the baby; no one ever talked about fatigue. I'm grateful my first trimester wasn't during peak season because I was so tired. I would be harvesting and - boom! - it would hit me. That, I need to go lay down now because I’m about to pass out feeling. I would spend anywhere from half an hour to a few hours some days sleeping in my car or somewhere on the farm (we don’t live on the farm, and I didnt think Id make it home).

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Aside from the fatigue, it was pretty smooth sailing. My sense of smell increased exponentially - I could not bare to smell the compost - and it felt like a super power. I was turned off of certain foods, other normal things.

Since we were already in the harvest portion of the season, I looked at our harvest list and decided what could be harvested a day before our official harvest day, and would try to tackle it in bits and pieces instead of all at once because that worked better for me. 

What I learned from this period:

  • Don't fight the need to nap, give in. I was so much more efficient when I was well rested than I was when I was working through the fatigue.
  • If you have the ability, change your tasks to fit what you're currently capable of completing. Don't try to do too much.
  • Also, it helps to have a partner in business and in life who understands - I would get down on myself and my productivity or lack of productivity and Matthew was the one telling me that it was fine, reminding me that I was pregnant and that I was being productive - I was growing a human. 
  • Have a sense of humor, it makes everything easier. 

 

Pregnant & Farming

When I first found out I was pregnant, I started searching the internet for experiences - words of wisdom - from other women farmers who had successfully maintained their businesses while navigating this whole being pregnant thing.

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I wanted to know what I was getting into.  I had so many questions that just didn’t apply to women who sit down for the majority of their work day, in front of a computer in offices. How long did they work in the field? What were they harvesting? How did their tasks change through the months and trimesters? What effects did they feel? What the heck did they wear for maternity clothes? Did their feet swell up after working markets or tromping around the field all day? Did they need better shoes?

But after countless hours of searching online - I say countless, because I did not count - I wound up with only 1 relevant blog post. The majority of advice pertaining to farming pregnant was in regards to dairy farming - which is fantastic if you’re a pregnant dairy farmer, but not so much if you grow vegetables. 

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This seemed crazy to me, because I see a lot of successful female farmers with children, and I know that the knowledge was out there.

I eventually found the answers to my questions, both through talking to farm moms about their experiences and through personal trial and error. Yes, your feet do swell up if you’re standing while working at a market all day and 25 weeks pregnant. But the biggest support network I found was through Instagram, this community has so much knowledge and it was a fantastic place to ask questions and get a plethora of answers.

So I’m here to share my journey. Everyone is different, this isn’t the right or wrong way to do anything, I’m just speaking to what I know from my personal experiences - incase someone else is in the situation I was in, looking for experiences from a pregnant farmer.