September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Shifting roles

By Susan Steinke- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Well, we knew this day would come. Kurt and I have officially joined the ranks of parents whose lives are regulated by the school calendar. Lily started kindergarten this month. Gone are the family vacations in September when the weather is cooler and the tourists have dwindled. So long weekday play dates at museums and parks with my friends who have kids Lily's age. No more weekday runs to Fleet Farm in St. Cloud with a stop at our favorite lunch buffet. Oh, wait, we'll still do that. We just won't tell Lily. Plus, it will be cheaper.
Not only has she started kindergarten, but we chose to send her to a private school, which means that I need to drop her off and pick her up every day. Not ideal, but it's one of the sacrifices you make for your children. However, it also means sacrificing my time in the barn. All summer I helped with the morning milking while the kids were still sleeping. Now I need to focus my efforts on getting two children up and fed and out the door by 7:30.
Now, some of you more ambitious farm moms might get up earlier, milk the cows, and still get your lovely little ones to school on time. Not me. Punctuality is not my strong suit. I have a terrible habit of trying to fit too many tasks into too little time. If Lily has any hope of getting to school on time, I can't be in the barn.
This shift in my duties from the barn to the house was bound to happen for us sooner rather than later, though, because I am also six months pregnant with our third child.
I have a new doctor this time around, and when she asked me my occupation and I replied that I was a dairy farmer, her eyes grew round.
"Oh," she said, "so your biggest work concern is traumatic injury from getting kicked by a cow." Yes, kicked, or head-butted, or side-swiped, or squished. There are many ways that a large, round belly that contains your precious baby can be endangered in the barn. The further along you are, the farther it sticks out, and the bigger target it makes.
Now, besides from trying to keep my belly out of vulnerable situations when it comes to cows, it also gets more and more difficult to bend over when you have the equivalent of a basketball strapped to your middle. A basketball that squishes your bladder and pushes on your lungs. Milking cows in a tiestall set-up like ours requires a lot of bending.
Working hard goes hand-in-hand with dairy farming, and at first you don't want to admit that your pregnant body has put limitations on you. My husband reprimanded me about a month ago for working myself too hard when unloading hay.
"Honey, you need to take it easy. You're growing a human." He should have never said that to me. It's easier to leave a chore for him to do when I know he thinks I should take it easy.
Interestingly, I discovered that one of my OB nurses owns a dairy farm with her husband. She came into harsh contact with one of their cows far along in her first pregnancy and had an ultrasound to confirm that everything was OK. As dangerous as it can be in the barn for a pregnant lady, she and I both agreed that the bending and movement of milking the cows helps to keep things, well, regular. And if you've ever been pregnant, you know how important that is. Even so, in the next few months, my dairy farm role will lean toward keeping records, paying bills, and preparing herd checks.
Of course, with the addition of number three, our sedan is no longer going to transport us all, at least not if Kurt wants to push the driver's seat back far enough to get in, anyway. This means the hunt is on for a vehicle with three rows. And once we find it, maybe I can look into carpooling to school. And then maybe I can get back into the barn a few mornings a week, so that I can stand behind Kurt and say, "Good work. I would help you, but I'm growing a human."
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