July 16th

Our son has arrived. I went into labor last Monday at dawn. He was born 36 hours later; Tuesday evening. He was born at the hospital, not at home as we planned. But he arrived in blessedly good health and without the use of any drugs or interventions. 

We have named him Leland. Which means he of the meadowland,  which I think is rather apt.

He is so achingly sweet and we are so devastatingly humbled by our love for him.


Yet another win for pasture-based farms

The small-farm-warrior, big-city-writer Mark Bittman wrote yesterday in the Times about the newly released disturbing (and unsurprising) results of a study conducted a couple of years ago in North Carolina on hog farms. North Carolina is the second biggest pork producing state in the US (Iowa being no. 1). The study wanted to determine and compare the existence of MRSA and MDRSA in workers at confinement hog farms and workers at pasture-based farms. Nick and I were two of those studied representing workers on the latter. Our noses were swabbed and we answered some very detailed questions about our sanitation efforts when dealing with livestock. From the above photo I think you can see, we would get quite close to our pigs. In fact this photo is from hours after a sow had farrowed in the stables adjacent to our home. Nick and I had a slow afternoon on the farm and sat there, at her rear watching each baby piglet slip out, gain near immediate control of their legs and make their way around to the large display of milky teats. 

Pigs that live in confinement (literal concrete slabs, and sometimes cages for sows) receive routine prophylactic antibiotics to keep them alive when their living conditions and feed would otherwise kill them. Prophylactic treatment is preventative. The antibiotics are given assuming that the pig will get sick. Otherwise you could treat pigs therapeutically after an animal shows signs of sickness.

When hogs are treated prophylactically they can develop a strain of bacteria resistant to the antibiotics administered. This bacteria is commonly known as MRSA.   The study shows that workers at these confinement farms are more likely than workers at pasture-based farms to carry this drug resistant bacteria. Typically antibiotics are administered therapeutically or not at all on pasture-based farms.

Bittman writes a much more cohesive overview of this study as did Maryn Mckenna for Wired last week. I recommend reading both.

It is scary stuff. The pigs we grow in the most inhumane conditions we can fathom get sick from their living conditions. We pump them full of antibiotics to keep them from dying. We do this so often that the pigs become hosts to MRSA and it appears from this study that MRSA is then passed on to farm workers from close contact with the pigs. If the workers have it, its only a matter of time before they pass it onto their household members. And then that shit spreads. Very hollywood.

Just another reason to stop supporting factory farms. Start supporting farms where the workers can kiss a pig on the nose without fear of a staph infection.


Any day

With every moment, or chore, or step I wonder if it is the last thing I do before labor starts. I obsess about it. I'm into my 38th week of pregnancy and while statistics tell me my first child will be "late" I want him to come now. My body is no longer my own.  I am really exhausted most of the day though am wired through the night. I cannot lift much more than a goat pail, the cow milk pail is too heavy now, as it strains the muscles in my abandoned abdomen. I'm feeling exponentially more useless on the farm as each day passes. 

Yesterday, while I was pulling maggots out of the ears, eyes, and back of a very sick pig, I wondered....maybe now? Or this morning when I was crouched at mouth level feeding said pig a banana comically laden with tylenol, I thought now?  Maybe it would be at 9 o'clock at night, as the evening thunderstorms rolled through...before we had eaten dinner...when I was left home with the dogs as Fiona and Nick had dashed out to form a makeshift tarp tent over Vangogh's ailing body. 

I thought it could be when Nick arose from the basement to declare that maggots had overtaken several wheels of cheddar. (Maggots are a sick and very real part of life in this humidity and rain.) I thought, my water might break as he threw the infested wheels to the chicken compost. 

Or perhaps it will be something much more mundane, like fencing sheep. Or slicing potatoes for breakfast. Or boiling the cheesecloth. Or buying strawberries at market tomorrow. Or while checking on the hatching chicks.

Or something more bucolic like a swim in the pond, or a walk through the woods with the goats. 

But much more likely, I'll be sleeping, or doing some disgusting chore that involves animal poop, or spoiled milk, or maggots. 

I am a bundle of anticipation. Soon, when he's ready,  it will start and I'll enter into the club of women who've given birth...of women who become mothers. Then I'll understand how mothers can love something more than they love their dog. Then I'll stop comparing a woman's story of her infant daughter to a similar thing that a piglet or a lamb or a calf had just done here.  I will understand then how being pregnant, and laboring, giving birth, and becoming a parent is not something that makes me exceptional but rather allows for me to more fully experience being human with billions of others. 

For now, all I know are the facts that any day soon I will have a baby and my life will change. The how, where, when of it all is left up to the heavens. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...