I excitedly told my husband last night that as of next week, we are halfway through my first pregnancy. He paused, then reminded me that doctors all go on a 40-week pregnancy, so technically I was wrong. Big sigh.
We deal with pregnancy non-stop around here: there hundreds of pregnant cows in the area, we farrow sows year-round, my dachshund has gone through two false pregnancies in the past year that were quite dramatic. But, we will be welcoming our first baby in June, and experiencing pregnancy for the first time personally has been eye-opening, for both myself and my husband.
Here's what we've learned so far:
1. My productivity is directly linked to coffee! Ok, maybe not, I'm sure a big part of this is the tiredness that comes with pregnancy, both from hormones, the extra work of growing a baby, and packing all that extra weight around. But, not being able to caffeinate has not been that enjoyable. During our first doctor's visit, the kindly gal explaining things to us said I could slowly back off coffee to the point of one cup (read, actual cup, not one of the biggest cups in my cupboard), or so per day. She went on to say that this really wasn't an issue for most, unless they were the sort that drank coffee all day until they were caffeinated to the max (that would be me). My husband snickered as he looked at my dazed self, who had gone from being that overly caffeinated person to a one-cup momma to be instantly when we found out we were pregnant. The effects were not that pleasant, and to this day, four months in, I miss my coffee far more than I miss alcoholic beverages.
2. Doing chores is a chore. Doctors will also tell you remain active while pregnancy. Not that difficult on our place. We adjusted a few thing to the point I have my little batch of chores to complete each morning. I enjoy it, although everyone else gets really concerned if they get near me because I am constantly gasping for breathe, even when I'm just walking around. Apparently a baby the size of an orange has the ability to shove your lungs into your esophagus. Plus, there are a lot of bathroom breaks, pauses to readjust clothing that doesn't fit right, and struggles to get my foot high enough to reach the bottom tractor step. Also, I have learned that if I do chores, there is a good chance I will do nothing else the remainder of the day. Chores wipe me out in a way I have never experienced. People with kids just nod, and say that's completely normal. As someone who filled every day to the max, this has been a humbling learning curve for me. The fact is that some stuff does not get done, when I'm tired now my brain does not function, and that sitting down "for a few minutes" often turns into a 2-hour nap.
3. Sympathy eating occurs. No, I'm not talking about my husband, but rather the cows and sows. I have had a voracious appetite from about day 3 of being pregnant. This has resulted in extreme sympathy for all the other pregnant females I'm surrounded by. I may have, on occasion, packed a few extra buckets of grain to some sows, or dolled out a little extra hay to the first calf heifers. My reasoning was that if I have doubled my food intake, we cannot possible be feeding them enough, science, known livestock feed requirements, etc... be darned. My husband, who has watched our fridge go from stocked to constantly empty, has been quite understanding for the most part, and taken back some of the feeding chores. Probably to save our feed budget for the year.
4. I explained ultra-sounding cattle during my entire first ultrasound, and even invited the tech out next fall. We compared what they look at on human baby's to determine age to what we look at in cattle. There have been multiple other incidents where our livestock pregnancy experience have carried over into interesting questions and conversations with healthcare people regarding our own pregnancy.
5. Human doctors are lackadaisical compared to ranchers. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, and I do like our doctor, but this has become a common topic around our house in the past few months. For what I consider an astronomical fee (the joys of self-employment and insurance), I have had the pleasure of stepping on scale, having my blood pressure taken, hearing the baby's heartbeat (which is amazing, but totals 5 minutes or less of the visit) then visiting about the weather, the family, pregnancy symptoms, the ranch, etc... with staff at my doctor's office the past two months. None of these conversations have included pertinent pregnancy topics that couldn't have been discussed over the phone in under 10 minutes. Plus, nine out of ten of them I have had to ask, instead of the healthcare person filling me in. Perhaps this is a first-time pregnant, not into the third trimester yet, overly concerned future mother talking, but in visiting to friends who also farm or ranch, we have agreed that human doctors take a pretty laid back approach to this whole pregnancy thing compared to the care we provide our animals. I've been told to eat healthy but not the recommended type of snaking that would help me pass my glucose test. That information came from a friend who failed hers, then had her doctor pipe up with an, "oh, well..." Another friend is who told me to make sure I schedule that appointment early, because there are eating restrictions ahead of time. As someone who leaves the doctor's office and goes home to personally feed each pregnant cow and sow a balanced, exact diet, then spend as much time as necessary looking them over, checking their water, discussing their health with other experts (the husband, neighbors, parents), and adjusting care as needed, my care seems expensive and sub-par in comparison. But, on the other hand, it also gives me a new sense of pride in the work we do.