She is sleepy. So, so sleepy. It is sweltering hot, and there is no air conditioning and no fan to cool Her off. She feels Herself going in and out of consciousness, and she is in pain—wild, intense pain that she is no stranger to. She is giving birth and probably has only about an hour to go. She feels empty, like a shell of Herself by now. This will be Her eighth baby, but Her story is hopefully different from yours, as the hour ahead unfolds.
First come the legs, the body, his face, covered in birthing fluid. She cleans him, coarsely and fervently. Her urge to nurture is palpable but everyone knows it won’t be long, as the heat continues to rise. She remembers the last seven, but she won’t let Her mind go there, as she has a job to do right now. She cleans and she cleans, Her heart rate rising with the heat and the stress. She slowly falls asleep with Her baby, nestled tightly, the bond already as strong as steel. She suddenly wakes to a bang and a wobbly, rolling wheel. She is startled at first, but then she remembers. It is time. The wheelbarrow is here to drag Her baby away from Her, never to be seen again. She vows to stay steady though, just in case this time is different than the last. She will allow Herself to feel hope because hope is all she has left.
She is hooked up to a machine and the suction is shockingly rough. The dismissive way they treat Her hurts, inside and out. She is so tired, so empty, so filled with hopelessness. Every day she walks slowly and deliberately to the milking house—right past Her baby—and hears him cry, which fills Her breast with milk simply from the sound of him. Will she get to see him? Maybe even just one more time? Day after day she hopes, until there are no more cries, no more babies. They are all gone. All 400 of the calves at Her farm. And in that moment of desperation and sadness, she wants to die. Her body has no more; no more energy, no more ability, no more resilience. She is spent. She has not another ounce to produce for them.
It’s time we tell Her story. This is the first chapter.