Farming Pregnant

November 02, 2016
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farming while pregnant

By Janna Berger Siller

Here I am, slicing pigweed roots out of the onion beds with a hoe while another human grows in my body. And there I am, sinking a thousand pounds of steel into the earth with the flick of a finger on the tractor’s hydraulics, tilling in the spinach to make way for sweet corn while ears form and eyes take shape under my belly button.

Here I am, teaching a group of mosquito-dodging teenagers how to identify the sweetest sugar snap pea while my blood volume increases steadily and my bladder squishes itself into an ever-narrowing space. And there I am, loading crates of lettuce while carrying another body -- separate but enmeshed -- back and forth with me from the cold shed to the truck bound for market.

The images on pregnancy blogs are sketched in soft pastels but my experience is sweaty and surreal and the colors of the world look bolder than ever. Who has bent over fertile soil, back muscles gripping between spine and ribs while the firm perimeter of their uterus held close its bulge? Who has leaned over their big belly, kicked from the inside, to put seeds in the ground -- both creator and container of new life?

I know that the world is dangerously overpopulated and devastatingly deforested. Yet I find myself striding purposefully across farm fields in the heavy footsteps of pregnant humanity. I suppose that I am producing a new human for the same vague reasons that I spend my days producing food for the humans who are already here.

Despite my fear of our species’ capacity to hog resources and cause suffering, I choose to follow my impulse to live rather than dwell in my shame for the exploitation involved in living. I am drawn to the intimacy of what it means to be an animal on earth, a human between the soil and the sun.

And so here I find myself picking peppers and washing radishes and planning out next year’s crop rotation while singing to the creature growing in my abdomen. My heart pumps, fueling my work, and so does her heart within me.

Reprinted with permission from The New Farmer’s Almanac Vol. II (2015). Vol. II (2015) and Vol. III (2016) are both available from young land stewards across the country and at etsy.com/shop/greenhorns.

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