This week begins my third trimester of pregnancy. I often wonder, “Why do cows get a two-month break before giving birth and humans do not?” A few short months ago I was fit, strong, confident, in control of my emotions, mentally sharp and could handle chores independently. I thought being pregnant would only slow me down physically, but that prediction is about as good as the milk price. There have been a few things that have changed since becoming a momma-to-be.
    I stopped giving lutalyse shots. I know it is too risky. I had no worries about letting Mary take over them for a few weeks, as she rarely makes a mistake. Then, she started working at Christensen Farms and Dad had to take over. My dad knows each cow in the herd, but I am always correcting his cow numbers. Each Monday I make a list of the repro shots that need to be given, and he takes care of administering them. I am always nervous he will come back saying he gave the wrong cow lutalyse. When I accidentally made this mistake, the cow aborted. However, when Dad accidentally made this mistake, he said a few Hail Mary’s and the cow stayed pregnant. I guess that is why he is the one who taught me how to pray.
    I have this morning sickness crap. I absolutely cannot stand being in the parlor unless all the fans are on. I need fresh air constantly. I have been lucky I have only vomited a couple times, but I feel like hurling each morning as I walk into the parlor and it smells like every cow is defecating in my face. God help me on the days a cow has a retained placenta.
    Suppressed immunity is another factor I underestimated. I contracted ringworm and it took well over a month to clear up. I am finally getting over a cold that lasted three weeks with some sleepless nights due to all the coughing. I wonder how I will be able to keep a baby healthy when I cannot even keep myself healthy.
    I always thought pregnancy brain was a made-up excuse. It certainly is not. In the past month I nearly put an ear tag in backwards, only entered half the pregnancy check list into PCDart, put towels in the washer but forgot to push start, re-pasteurized the calf milk instead of selecting reheat, forgot my dog at the farm overnight, and I printed the wrong list for heifer pregnancy checks and did not realize it until I was in the pen with the vet and very confused why so few were pregnant. This list does not even begin to include how many things my husband has informed me I have been forgetting or doing backwards around the house, but it is definitely affecting me at home, too.
    Up until the past few weeks, I had not felt the emotions and crazy hormones that everyone talks about during pregnancy. Sometimes the emotions are good. I think about holding this baby in my arms and tear up. Other times, such as when my younger sister was an hour and a half late for Sunday morning chores, I literally had to walk out of the parlor to avoid losing my temper. After all, it was not that long ago that I was young and staying out late with my friends, too. I have always relied on getting a good workout in or going out for margaritas with my friends to relieve stress and put me back in a good mood. Not being able to do either of those things is taking a toll on me mentally. I wonder when my ambition to go to the gym will come back and if I will be able to find time for margarita dates in between changing diapers and feeding this baby.
    Right now, simply getting through milking is exhausting. Thankfully we keep a supply of cold water in the fridge and Schwan’s ice cream treats in the freezer all summer long. Growing a baby is by far the toughest, and seemingly longest journey I have been on. I expected to share my body, but it has been taken over. The baby’s appetite decides when I need to eat (about every two hours), and its kicking decides when I need to sit down and take a break.
    However, I am a dairy farmer, which means I have some serious faith in the light at the end of tunnel and determination to get there. Pregnancy is slowing me down, but it will not stop me from doing what I love. I believe becoming a mom will be worth every minute of sickness and exhaustion.
    Laura Scholtz farms with her father, John Rosenhammer, and uncle, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.