Maybe it was the late summer heat and the effects of dragging furniture across old carpet. But combined with my newfound super sense of smell in the first trimester, I was really struggling to stay in the farm house.
My daily commute wasn’t much better. My husband and I had just accepted fellowships with two different companies in the city, which meant leaving early to take public transit during the height of my morning sickness. Whether on the train or the subsequent bus ride, I had to keep a bag ready at all times to dry heave into. It had not rained for awhile in the city, so every walk from one stop to another was heavy with the smell of urine and trash that had settled in a thick, invisible layer on the sidewalks and around the train station.
I wasn’t ready to share the news of my pregnancy with anyone at this new job, so I attempted to hide my sudden trips to the bathroom and the constant nausea. At one point I tried to discuss in generalities an ongoing medical issue I had, but my sponsor wasn’t exactly sympathetic. She thought I wasn’t showing a proper amount of enthusiasm for the tasks I was given.
My sweet husband tried to help with the musty, stale smell we couldn’t get rid of at home by plugging in an air freshener right before we left for work. That evening, I couldn’t even get past the front door without gagging from the stench. Even though it was supposed to give off a nice floral aroma, the scent was overpowering and overwhelming. The air freshener went straight into a box in the garage, and my husband apologized profusely while opening up all the doors and windows.
I know a lot of my reaction had to be from the pregnancy symptoms. I once worked for months in a place where our only bathroom was a portable toilet I had to share with a dozen grown men in the heat and the cold. Somehow this seemed worse.
The final straw was when we came home just before dark to find a notice from the electric company on our front door. Even though we had gone through a recommended program at closing that was supposed to set up all of our utilities in one fell swoop, they failed to mention the electric company did not allow a third party to transfer the utilities into our name. Since the electric company didn’t have our contact info, they opted to turn off power to get our attention….and they were closed when we called. Without power, there was no electricity to pump water from the well system, so we were minutes away from being in the dark with no water or sewer.
We always knew there would be some speed bumps, but this one felt like it ripped off both bumpers. With what little daylight was left, we threw our clothes and toiletries into a suitcase and packed up the food from our fridge that was slowly warming up.
Fortunately, my husband’s mom was about 45 minutes away and was willing to let us stay at her house until we figured out what to do next. We had to have a serious conversation. Even once the power got turned back on, I dreaded going back to the smell. My mother-in-law was gracious enough to extend her invitation for us to stay with her until we got the house to a more livable place.
Moving farther away from downtown was a little complicated, and of course the cows had to stay on the farm. One day, they escaped through a gate that was accidentally left open, and our neighbors called saying they had corralled them into their pasture. After work, my husband drove over to collect them.
I can picture him in his button-up shirt and nice dress shoes walking up to them with rope in hand. Unfortunately, as soon as they saw that harness, they bolted down the road to keep their newly won freedom. Another neighbor had to jump in the middle of the road to stop them from getting too far, and my husband chased after them in a sprint.
What a champ.
I include these stories, because it would be one sided to only mention the fun stuff. It’s important to be realistic about a transition from the city to the country. In our case, we were still straddling both worlds and a new pregnancy to boot. What’s important is that we had each other and family to lean on during this tough circumstance, and we recognized that it was temporary.
Deep breath. Let’s keep going.