15 seconds of cat hair & makeup, and an ultrasound

This series of photos has nothing to do with the following. Just me amusing myself and the cats on a particularly chilled day on the farm.

This morning we are going to the hospital for the first and hopefully only and last time during this pregnancy for an ultrasound. We are planning for a homebirth and neither our midwife, nor my pregnancy, nor the state of Vermont require that I have an ultrasound. It isn't part of the standard of care and I admire that. A faith that if the mama is healthy so is the baby.

I suppose it's a vestige from all my hours spent watching good American television characters with their dramatic pregnancies and births but I cannot imagine missing this first glimpse of our child. I feel a bit sheepish about it, as the ultrasound and the experience of going to the hospital when everything is so far healthy and good contradicts what we believe in...don't fix what isn't broken. I know she tries to withhold judgement, but I think my midwife wonders why we need to go.

And, I too wonder why I need to go. It can't have just been the hours of influencing television.

It is more my inability to grasp the reality of my pregnancy.

I have a unique ability to not think about the consequences of my actions. I call it unique, Nick might call it frustratingly and willingly blind. I didn't think long or hard about quitting my job at Facebook and moving to France. I just did it. Nick thought and agonized for days and weeks about quitting the NRDC when I approached him with the idea. Likewise, I didn't think much about the modest and hard life that would ensue when I took a job farming in North Carolina. Nor when we moved to Vermont without jobs to farm on our own. I go on my gut and I pride myself in that. Nick runs furiously around picking up the visas and passports, and plane tickets, and animal feed, a trailer and a good truck. We're lucky and happy with the balance we give to the other, I with my impetuousness and Nick with his planning.

I digress...

It shouldn't come to anyone's surprise, though maybe to their polite disapproval that I didn't think long and hard about getting pregnant. I love our life and I would love to share a child with Nick. Our lives as self-employed farmers afford us the time to both be there to raise the child. We always have plenty of food. That is the extent of my planning for it. And I naively assume everything that follows will be smooth and easy.

One side-effect of my inability to grasp future realities is that I seem to constantly forget I'm pregnant. It truly worries me and I'm not attempting to be coy with this post. I certainly remember I'm pregnant when I wake up in the morning craving a cup of black tea but only pour myself a cuppa mint with honey. I know I'm pregnant when I saddle up into the shower and wash the basketball belly I have developed. When I go outside in the blistering wind 4 times in one hour to pee in the snow, its obvious my bladder is being pushed thin by my uterus.  But I don't think about the baby as often as I wish. The thought of this future child doesn't consume me. I hesitate to write that as it makes me sound like a monster.

Nick and a friend of ours were talking about my pregnancy earlier this winter and it dawned on me that they saw me and this pregnancy as two individuals; baby and mama. But I see it as me, and this process that is happening to me. A wholly singular being.

I wonder if it is any easier for other women to grasp the insane reality of a human growing inside their uterus. It utterly rocks my mind. To the same extent that the universe is ever expanding or that planes can fly through the sky. I cannot understand the magnitude of it, so I try not to think about it. And so I find myself thinking more about the sheep shearing schedule for this year than I do the babe that will be tied to my chest while I move fences and harvest tomatoes.

Don't read me wrong. I am so excited at the thought of being a mother and making Nick a father.  I just need some form of proof...of tangible comprehension. There are bits and jolts that send me sky high into the reality of impending motherhood. Lying on the sofa of my midwife's office listening to the baby's heart beat.  Or the couple of times we've both had our hands right below my belly button and felt the baby kick. I've taken to sleeping with one hand resting on my lower belly. Just in case the baby starts dancing.

So this morning we are going for an ultrasound. I need a visual of this baby. I need visual, tangible proof that the universe is ever-expanding and that I, Kate MacLean, have a human growing in my belly.


  1. Yes yes and yes. I felt the same way through out my pregnancy. It never felt "real." And actually, it never really hit me that there was a baby growing inside of me until I pulled that sweet little face out of the water from between my legs and up onto my chest. It was like oh! this is him! here he is! I too, would forget I was pregnant.....until I became huge and uncomfortable I guess. But the first 1/2 of the pregnancy? It was just so easy. Congratulations again, its the best thing ever.

  2. Short time follower but I just wanted to drop a line and tell you congrats! What you are feeling is 100% normal. I was/am the same way. I'm waiting on my babe to come into the world any day now so things definitely feel more "real" but in the beginning I don't think it hit me until I felt her kick. THAT is some physical proof that there is something growing inside of you.

    Enjoy this journey. You will never be the same! Thanks for sharing! xo

    1. Oh Valerie, I'm so thrilled for you! Any day!? I had two mamas in my prenatal yoga class on Monday that were 40 weeks and I couldn't stop staring at their bellies. I cannot wait, myself, for the big day.

  3. I think, that nearly all futur- mamas are having this wonderful unbelievable feeling....the never ending wonder of the genesis of a human beeing!
    Take care of you

  4. you are such a beautiful writer. good luck with your ultrasound!

  5. So very normal... and as I sit here waiting to birth my second child (hopefully today!) let me tell you that as long as you have love (and food) to give, everything will indeed fall into place. Good luck with your ultrasound! In Canada we only have the 20 week scan as well, and I enjoy going to mine.

  6. Though I am not pregnant, nor do I plan on being a mom for a long long time, your thinking here completely resonates with me. I just watched a film called "Window Baby Water Moving" shot by video artist Stan Brakhage during his wife's home delivery. It is a beautiful and honest film that, to me, really conveys the true miracle that birth IS. I think your honesty about the incomprehensibleness pregnancy is a good thing. It means you truly appreciate the amazing thing that is going on within you. I recommend the film. I think you would appreciate it, especially as a person who sees beauty in all things natural and good.

    1. Keegan, thank you for the short film recommendation. I love watching birth videos. The more I watch the more I feel I can do it!

  7. Though I myself am not yet a mother, something about your post (and your amazing writing) really spoke to me, such beauty in the perception and honesty. It is incredible how the universe is ever expanding, incredible and how a being can grow within. So amazing. Thank you for sharing this, I'm fairly new to your blog and soo happy I found it.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this. I'm sure you will find the ultrasound reassuring, it's pretty amazing. Everything you're feeling is so normal, with my first pregnancy I could never wrap my head around growing a human being... of course being neurotic I constantly worried, 'if I don't feel pregnant, even with a giant belly, maybe something is wrong'. It was all fine though, and everything is perfect with you too, there's no right way to be pregnant. I'm now pregnant with my second and this time i really do forget... for whole days. I'm too busy to think about it or even prepare, but I just know that everything will work itself out. Sounds like you know that too, and you've got a good support system.

    Enjoy it and don't feel guilty for not obsessing more or not having enough faith in your body to forego an ultrasound, just do what feels right... before you know it you'll have a tiny baby and that's when the fun starts!

  9. I couldn't agree more. Our ultrasound is tomorrow and I just need to see it. I feel it move and belly is getting bigger all the time, but I want to see it, and also stop calling it "it" and either he or she.

    I hope things went well. And know you're not the only person with a midwife who gets an ultrasound.

    1. Oh wonderful! I wish you the best with your ultrasound. Nick had to really butter up our technician before she started speaking to us like actual parents-to-be and not lab rats. But it was incredible. Those machines are so wickedly powerful. We saw the four chambers of our little babe's heart!

  10. totally normal! i felt the same way and hey thats okay because i didnt love my daughter less or feel blindsighted when i took her home. pregnancy was a VERY personal and intimate thing to me that was happening to me and i loved the entire experience, however it just didnt seem real to me that it would end with a baby in my arms...dont let anyone convince you that its wrong to feel any other way than how you feel.

  11. I completely understand! Everything changed for me once I saw my baby at our first ultrasound. It's never completely real until they are here, though. You got it right - we simply can't comprehend the magnitude of it until it hits us square in the face. :) Enjoy these last months/weeks to just be "you" because you are going to be "you + 1" for a long while..

  12. I've thought very much about if I should say what I'm about to say....but this post just really rubbed me the wrong way, and has been weighing on me so heavily. I feel that I might be able to offer you a different perspective, and I hope it's not hurtful to you, but I really feel I need to say it. So, here goes... It seems that many who come from a privileged background such as yourself often have the luxury of making flippant and short-sighted decisions and relying on someone else to pick up the pieces or be the responsible one. To be honest, I find your approach to bringing a new life into this world incredibly disrespectful, immature, and self-centered. So many couples struggle with infertility or difficult pregnancies, and priding yourself in not giving much thought to it strikes me as appallingly hurtful. How fortunate you are to be so carefree, to live in a place where ultrasounds and midwives are provided to you, and to be able to take so much for granted. I'm not trying to discount or invalidate the very real feelings you're having (or not having) about being pregnant, but I guess I am pointing out that choosing to remain in a state of naïveté about what it means to become a parent - all under the guise of a gut reaction - is something that deeply offends me. I hope you found the affirmation you were looking for with this ultrasound, and with it, perhaps a bit of reverence owed to this new little soul as well. -Lynn

    1. Hi Lynn,

      I wanted to say that you are absolutely right that many couples do struggle with infertility and difficult pregnancies, including very close family members of mine, whose experiences I keep and will continue to keep private out of respect to them. I would hope though that writing something on a personal blog about a (very) personal experience is not being hurtful to them, or that they could in anyway take it as disrespectful. My getting pregnant easily is in no way an offense on them. But I am very grateful for how easily it came to us, and I don't wish to take that for granted for a second. Thank you for reminding me of this.

      I would ask to remind you also that we are farmers, who are as self reliant and self sufficient as we are able and we work very hard for our animals, our land, and our food. We are very fortunate to live in a state where they have health care for farmers (and others who make under a certain $ a year). So, our ultrasound is provided for by the state. 60% of our midwife is paid for by the state too.

      I can make no excuses for my naiveté however. That you have called me on, and you are completely correct. I don't know how many first time mothers know precisely what they are getting themselves into when they become pregnant, but perhaps it is more than I expect. I can assure you that I do love this baby as much as I am able to love a being I have no yet met. I am sorry that you have taken this as a personal offense. I wish you peace in this.

    2. Hi Lynn and Kate
      -just saw this thread, and I must come in and defend you Kate, so you know there is NOTHING irreverant about riding the wave of the life cycle, so to speak! It is not "immature or self-centered". This is YOUR life, YOUR body and just like you and Nick are caring for and living in nature everyday, WE too are mammals, made to reproduce. We don't need it to be over planned and over thought - that is a figment of society. Of course, it is difficult when people have a hard time conceiving, but that has nothing to do with this pregnancy, and this new life. I am blessed with three beautiful girls and only one was planned (so far). I had the SAME feelings with my first pregnancy, and it honestly didn't go away until she was several months old. It is a beautiful, and awe filled, but still downright shocking experience to be growing another human inside us! What you feel is common (I am a psychologist and doula and feel I can speak to this with experience), and I do think the ultrasound will help you via imagery (so powerful for our human brains). But you need not worry about rinding "reverence", you are now a Mamma and that comes with the gig. You have reverance for your kitties, your cows, your garden, your husband, your life, and it will be naturally be no different with your lucky little baby. Enjoy your computerized glimpse;)

    3. dear Kate
      How utterly gracious and honest you are not only in this most recent post but in your response to Lyn
      whose response indicates she rather misses the point of your open heartedness honesty and reflection.

      At no point do you express anything in your writing other than complete gratitude, appreciation and amazement at the entire process of your pregnancy along with the realization of the learning and love it is already providing to you and your family.

      As to naivete, show me a new parent who isn't. Regardless the amount of planning and preparation, the very nature of having a child is always an act of faith. Your post adroitly bears testament to that faith; the love you bear your unborn child along with your understanding of the awesome responsibility of being a new parent is self evident.

      Were there be more new, expectant parents in this world so constituted with the strength of character such as yours and Nick's. Your child is indeed fortunate entering the world with the gift of such loving and tender and caring parents.

      those are some great cat photos

    4. Thank you for your kind reply, Kate. You've given me much to think about as well. -Lynn

    5. Lynn, thank you for yours. And please excuse my father above. He and my mother are my most devoted readers :) I really do welcome and appreciate contrary p.o.v's, and I hope I didn't come off as too defensive in my response.

    6. Thank you , Kate and Lynn, for your forbearance! :-)

  13. An absolutely normal feeling. And I LOVE your attitude to this pregnancy and your light and easy decision to have a baby.

    It's the way it should be, as long as your baby has you both to love it and food in it's happy little tummy then everything else will fall into place, you live on a farm and you see this with the baby animals every day so you know you can have faith in this, nature is a wonderful thing.

    Enjoy 'seeing' your baby for the first time, we are so lucky in this tecnological age that we have this privilege and get to know the image of our babies as well as feeling those precious kicks.

    And as for the Anonymous comment above mine, ignore it, delete it, or leave it, but do not let it upset you in any way.

    Sue xx

  14. I had my first ultrasound at 13 weeks pregnant and it was a very strange experience to see this already complete little fetus kicking inside of me - and i had no belly, felt no kicking and just couldn't believe that what i saw on screen was "true"... It did feel very more real though once the baby kicked all the time ;) But still, sometimes I look at my son and think: Has he really grown inside of you?

  15. what sweet little felines...just wait til your actual little one gets mixed in with them :)

  16. a man around and lots of food - isn't that all that any self-respecting mammal needs to have babies? looks like you've got it covered.

  17. Sometimes you just have to trust in the process and know that you will make sense of it when you need to. I'm using a midwife as well but need to see that little baby before hand. Sometimes, I too forget that I am pregnant.. until I go to yoga and can hardly bend my body in half at the waist or make it an hour without peeing. I think we're told that we have to be so thorough in the planning of our lives but all the decisions I have made based on my heart have been the most intentional. xx

  18. As someone who obsessed about her pregnancy, literally spending days camped our on the couch diligently whispering sweet nothing to my own belly, caressing it with oils every day and dreaming non stop about the toes and fingers that would soon be... I appreciate and envy your disconnect. Life is life... It has come and gone for millions of years and as a farmer I think you get that... Not to say that this isn't going to be an incredible and life changing experience with enormous responsibility, but it's life, and it will carry on and be just as beautiful whether you fawn over it all pregnancy long or not.

    I loved reading your PERSONAL insight into your experience.


  19. Thank for you for this post - I have been a long-time reader but have not commented before. I am eight weeks pregnant and have known since I was four weeks. My husband and I had been trying for a few months so this baby was definitely planned. When I saw my positive pregnancy test, my first response was complete excitement. Shortly after though, I began experiencing a lot of fear and worry; worry that I would lose this baby, fear that my marriage would be irrevocably changed for the worst, fear that this baby was getting a terrible mother. After many tearful conversations with my mom over the next week, it became clear to me that while these thoughts and feelings might be normal, they weren't constructive. I've made a conscious decision to not think about this baby all the time because I am easily overwhelmed with bad thoughts. Now, I just think that I'm carrying around my own little secret and that is very peaceful. As to the ultrasound - I cannot agree with you more! I've been lucky that I haven't felt horrible during this pregnancy, but I have definitely felt pregnant (or at least different than I felt before). While that is a small confirmation, I need to see this baby, to know that what I've feeling is real. Thank you again for your honesty - its so validating to hear someone having similar feelings to my own.

  20. Such a beautifully written post, thank you for sharing. It felt so comforting and reassuring for me to read. I've only recently found your blog, but am finding so much inspiration here. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  21. Congratulations on your pregnancy - ulstrasound or not, I don't think it feels real until the tiny scrap of life is placed, squalling, onto your breast.

    I find your attitude to ultrasounds curious. Perhaps it's because I am from the UK, where midwife-led care is standard practice, and an ultrasound is standard practice too. Sadly it doesn't always follow that "if the mama is healthy so is the baby" - as you must know from your own experiences in raising animals on a farm.

    Ultrasounds during the early stages of my first pregnancy relieved me from days or weeks of grief, as I thought I'd miscarried when in fact the foetus was alive and well. On the other hand, had I been given an ultrasound towards the end of my second pregnancy, the doctors would have seen the baby was breech and I would have faced an unwanted caesarean, rather than the vaginal birth - and hence the far quicker recovery time - I actually had. So I can see both sides of the argument!

    I have since learned that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ultrasounds only when there's a specific medical reason. Of course, mothers even 20 years ago may not have had the option, and mothers in developing countries still don't. Choice is, I guess, the key.

  22. I am not pregnant, nor have I ever been, but I have the same fear that I might feel "selfish" if I were to be pregnant. I think and hope that the ultrasound will change that.

  23. Kate, I agree with your parents :) I do not think that anyone, as a first time parent, can possibly fathom what it truly means to become a parent and bring a life into the world. Yes, I believe the concept is one thing, but the reality is a whole other.

    I believe I feel similar to you...about pregnancy and children. I am not pregnant but hope to have child(ren) some day, in concept at least. I already struggle with the reality part and interestingly it is because we do not live on a farm (but wish for it much of the time). We are not self sufficient and the need to work away from home is what makes the reality of the situation so hard to reconcile.

    I think the way you guys live is very natural, it revolves around the seasons and the earth and the environment, therefore, not over thinking a baby and how that baby will fit into your already natural life also makes sense. I don't see anything hurtful or flippant about it.

    - Roxanne

  24. Hi Kate, first time writer here! I am just a few weeks behind you (nearly 15!) with my first pregnancy and the guilt i have felt about not being "motherly" enough already has been overwhelming. Same as with you, i know logically i am pregnant by the lack of caffeine, utter fatigue, etc. but emotionally it's not as easy to comprehend. my husband and i planned for this and i know i'll love our little person, but most of my day i work, eat, breathe as though i were still just me. my dear bff has told me this is totally normal and not to worry, she says once i start to feel the baby move and get to nesting the reality will start to kick in. Who knows though! Over the last few weeks i've been making a conscious effort to say "hello, i love you" to my belly when i wake up/go to bed. Trying to make it feel more real, not sure if it's working yet, but worth a shot right? Anyways, all this to say... you're not alone! and thank you so much for sharing this post so i now know that i'm not alone either :)

  25. Hi Kate-
    I've tried to write a comment 3 times here, but it was from my I-Pad and for some reason it didn't let me...
    ugh, technology and I mostly don't mix.
    I smiled when I read this post and felt giddy inside.
    I just wanted to tell you that you sound just like my husband and I. I am the dreamer...the one who kind of moves along in a land of different reality. I'm always the one saying things like, "it will all work out the way it's supposed to. What's meant to be will be." and I ride the waves reasonably easy. I always try to go with my gut, as it's never served me wrong. My husband is the person that makes my dreams come true. My rock, my get it done guy. =)
    I had a water birth at home, in the mountains in Oregon. It was a dream birth really. I had the most amazing midwife. I also decided to have only one ultrasound for similar reasons that you posted. I needed to see him. It suddenly made my pregnancy VERY real to actually see him.
    You'll find that your intuition will guide you amazingly well with pregnancy, labor and raising a child. I have done everything that made perfect common sense to me, knowing it was right. We follow "attachment parenting" I guess you'd say, but really it should be called instinctual parenting. =)
    Love your blog. You are a beautiful writer!


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