Yesterday, Claire turned three years old! A milestone of equal significance is that we have now lived on this farm three years and two days. We’ve owned the farm longer than that, but our year of Matt being a commuting farmer with a pregnant working wife two hours away didn’t go so well. So allow me to finally write about how we ended up here in February 2013, coinciding with the birth of our middle child and the loss of our suburban way of life.
Back in 2011, Matt’s little sister Laurie married a guy named Layne who was buying farmland in an unheard of place in northeastern New Mexico. They finished their college educations in Lubbock and planned their move to Sedan. I came to visit one weekend before they moved in and literally started shaking and breaking out in hives at the desolation of the place. Ok, figuratively on the hives but oh my gosh this farm is nowhere. I felt so so sorry for Laurie being a 22 year old and living in this God-forsaken place. I drove Trevor home and gave thanks for my lovely brick house in a neighborhood full of trees half a mile from the grocery store.
That one time after Matt coached a football game, Trevor was our only kid, and life was so easy we didn’t know it.
Three months later, Matt reached the conclusion that growing corn might be a better fit for him than coaching high school kids, found a neighboring farm to buy, partnered with Layne on a few things, resigned from his job, and moved into Laurie’s basement. (Obviously we had some help in this decision making and financial situating and all kinds of things that go into buying an irrigated farm – do not try this at home.) I kept my job and house because a) it was my favorite job of all time and b) no way in hell was I moving up there.
That was before. Before we found out Baby #2 was on the way, the nanny who we loved dearly left us for nursing school, Matt’s commute turned out to be only one way because farming is 24/7 (duh), and I was in Canyon with a full time job, unreliable child care, a 20 month old who realllllly missed his daddy, and a complete sense of bewilderment over what just happened to my carefully planned life. These are the highlights. The details are too overwhelming to recall without the hives.
Also, it was the year of the worst drought in the history of this area. We bought a corn farm the year it rained four inches. Four inches in tiny increments spread over 52 weeks. Unless you lived here then, you can’t even fathom what I’m describing. It was for real. My skin is still nicely exfoliated from the dust storms. What to do when you’ve made such huge decisions and all you see is a cloud of dirt blowing your corn-babies down? Ask God for wisdom and do not doubt. That is all.
I saw this with my own eyes, trying to ignore any possible omens. And I use this photo for Layne’s contact pic on my phone.
So obviously, the fall of 2012, aside from going down as one of the more stressful times in our adult lives, led to the inevitable move of our family to Sedan. I was trying to pave a way for the farm-commute thing amidst the trail of destruction of our previous lives and was failing beautifully. My friends in town who became my sister-wives that year all agreed: I had to move to the farm. Providentially, another little farm went up for sale just at that time, with a nice house and trees all around and that kind of thing, so we bought it, finished out the basement because we needed a place for the kids to play since it’s difficult for toddlers to go outside in 80 mph winds, and moved in the Saturday before Claire was born. That Saturday was typical of the entire year: the wind blew 50 mph, it was 75 degrees, and we drove the U-Haul through a dirt storm so nasty that visibility was three feet. Welcome to New Mexico.
The first time I saw our new stucco house on the desert prairie.
Trevor helping finish out the basement a couple weeks before the move. The amount of work it took to get us here…
In the meantime, while nine months pregnant and packing up our house in Canyon, working and parenting alone, I was sent for a last-minute sonogram because I just wasn’t feeling quite right about the baby. Mainly, the baby hurt. My ribs felt broken, I seemed a little smaller than with the first baby, and did I mention my ribs were sore? We never found out the gender of our kids beforehand, so we had no name for this kid, and I was basically pretty angry with it for the rib pain.
So the sono showed a nice healthy little BREECH baby whose head was up under my ribcage. Dang it. On February 7 the nurse called and said we could attempt to turn the baby and avoid a C-section, but that I needed to go to the hospital that afternoon. Here were my options for a breech baby at that point:
- C-section at 39 weeks or whenever I went into labor.
- Attempt an external version at 38 weeks, or ASAP. Four factors must be just right in order to have the version: small baby, lots of fluid, epidural, and a doctor with large hands. The way my doctor practices this, the patient must have an epidural first. Then he manually turns the baby from the outside using ultrasound to guide the way. If the baby cooperates and the cord doesn’t become wrapped around it’s neck or any other of a plethora of risks, the doctor then breaks the water and labor induction begins. It’s risky but do-able if you have the right ingredients.
I told my nurse no way was I coming in that afternoon because we were moving. Also I cried because I was in my office at work when she called and knew it would my last day working with the awesome people at Bushland ISD if all this went down, and I’m still sad thinking about it today. I called Matt to talk it over, and called the nurse back to see if Monday would work. She reluctantly agreed to postpone, and we planned on an external version for the morning of February 11, barring my going into labor over the weekend.
So I was verrrry careful the next few days as I watched my friends and sister pack up my house, cried in the driveway saying goodbye to my besties/neighbors Kim and Kali, and rode with Laurie through the dust storm to Sedan. Our new neighbors came to help unload, unpack and set up my kitchen, and get us all settled before Matt and I left for the two hour drive back to the hospital the next day.
Heading to the hospital with Baby Number Two, February 11, 2013. See in dictionary: tired.
On the way to Amarillo, we both agreed that the baby was most likely a girl and we really needed a name. Matt’s aunt has a little girl named Claire, which had always been our favorite girl name, so we called her to see if it was ok that we had a little Claire, too, to which she so graciously agreed. Yes, we did that. Lots of people have the same name, so there.
For the external version, a whole crew of nurses and students came in to watch and monitor. My doctor has a great reputation for these and he’s seriously the best, so it was a good learning experience for the staff, I suppose. I’m overly sensitive to epidurals, but I’m way more sensitive to the pain of labor so whatever, man, but I was itching and shivering from the epidural, lost consciousness but was brought back to life by our amazing nurse, and when we got that part all straightened out, the doctor came in to turn the baby. It took two minutes. My ribs felt instant relief. He broke my water.
Ten hours later, our baby girl was born! She took her sweet time coming because a) we forced her out, and b) that’s her personality. It was a long afternoon of itching and chattering teeth and waiting to dilate, Matt sold our house in Canyon over the phone throughout the course of the day, family and friends came to visit, and when the baby finally popped out at 10:53 pm, all my people were still there to celebrate! She was 5 pounds, 10 ounces, 19″ long, and we named her Elizabeth Claire. (This is another example of our lack of clear thinking ability during this time. Matt and I both go by our middle names…we were not going to do that to our kids! But we thought E-Claire rolled off the tongue better than Claire-E, so yes, we did that, too.)
Two days later, we took our little ladybug home to the farm. My aunt and cousin, who are super talented interior decorators and artists and everything creatively good, had driven five hours to the farm to decorate the nursery for us while we were in the hospital. They were the only people who knew the baby’s gender in advance, and handmade her bedding, curtains, artwork, etc etc etc. Every single detail was accounted for, and Claire’s room is such a peaceful sanctuary in our home. We had a surprise baby girl and a surprise nursery to come home to amidst the clutter of our lives, and both are such a blessing!
It took a few days but Trevor finally acknowledged Claire’s presence. For candy.
Eight days later, Trevor turned two years old, I was on permanent maternity leave, my mom was gone after staying a week to help, and real life as a farmer’s wife began. I miss my granite countertops and garage. Staying home with little kids is the most exhausting job I’ve ever had. It has been real and real fun and real unfun, but it’s almost always funny. Even when the wind blows.