Saturday, November 22, 2014


The idea of another baby has always felt like the balloon that slipped my grip. It's there, I can see it- but I can't get my hands on it. I just have to watch it as it gets further and further away, hoping that forces larger and stronger than my will will bring it home.

Five years ago a medical study gave us fertility and then the funding was pulled. We were given six months, maybe less, to have a child. We did as best as any early twenty somethings could do when parenthood is shoved on them in a now or never sort of way. We dove into our miracle baby, we took steps to open the door to another baby down the line, we kind of held our breath. It's nothing short of bizarre to grapple with infertility while completely unprepared to start your family. We barely had our footing out of college and we were making decisions for what we wanted our family to look like a decade later. Having Gus was easy; making decisions about all future babies wasn't, and we still question whether or not we made the best choices.

Since then we've paid the fees to the cryogenic storage, we made first calls to doctors in whatever new area we were living in, we talked about if we had another baby, but neither one of us took it too seriously or pursued it too hotly. We cried, together and alone. I gave away all of our best baby clothes. I feigned indifference while fielding well-meaning questions. And we did things that way because we were hurting immensely. We weren't ready to find out the worst and deal with the finality of it all so we opted to disengage with the situation.

 I was thinking out loud to Craig last night about how difficult it is to feel supported while struggling with infertility. Despite the goodness of the people who love us it is hard to say the right thing, hard to hold us through our heartache. It's an invisible wound we cary around that's ripped open by some of life's happiest moments. It's totally fucked up, and not anyone's fault or in anyone's control. Infertility warps your brain. In its darkest moments, it fills you with jealously, anger, and ill will even towards the people you love most. On "good days" it has you going through the motions of happiness for others while waiting desperately for the real feelings- the ones you know you should have and that you want to have- to kick in. It's isolating.

Last month we took a deep breath and went to a fertility specialist. Gus stayed with his old teacher while we held hands and read horrible magazines in the waiting room. As is always the case, the doctor was completely unfamiliar with the rare disorder our family is working with. We spent the first part of the meeting explaining things to him, something that always manages to steal away some of the confidence we have. We had hoped for a path of minimal intervention and almost immediately realized how impractical, how big of a bet we would need to make for that path to be walked. But then we started talking other options. Likelihoods, parts per millions, procedures, care providers, steps to be taken and so on, and things weren't as bleak. The tears that had welled up receded and everything felt Very Possible, or at least Sixty Percent Possible.

It's possible that infertility will rear its ugly head and bring us back down into the depths today, tomorrow, or next week, but right now we feel buoyed in the storm. We didn't get the news we wanted but the news was Good. We have a chance at having another baby. We floated out of the specialist's office that day...right up until we had to pay for our appointment. Ouch. As I write, I am not pregnant and we haven't come anywhere near raising the five figure sum necessary to begin our journey, which brings me to the catalyst of this uncharacteristic share of something I consider to be quite private.

 I started North Country Folkware hoping to bring in money for the things in life that come up. Wood, new snow pants, a flock of sheep.. And now I realize on some level that I started it for the baby. The baby I've felt was coming since we had Gus. The baby that had me telling Craig over and over again that our family wasn't complete. The baby that gave me hope even in my darkest hours. From today until November 29, Small Business Saturday, I'm selling wintery chicken ornaments at a discounted rate of $15. My goal is to sell 75 of them to cover the first appointment we went to and the one we have upcoming in December as our insurance has bowed out of this endeavor. The chickens are made with wool from local farms and they're stuffed with wool that I clean myself naturally by hand. 100% Maine wool, 100% handmade with love, 100% for a good cause, or at least I think so. And if you're in the market for something like that, well, I would just so appreciate your support. We all would.

To all those still underwater: I hope you find a buoy. You deserve it. xx

Learn more about the chickens here and here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Button Up, Sweethearts

Greetings from Snowvember on the homestead. We've had two more snows (three? maybe?) since we last talked. Nothing too life altering but still something to take note of. I still haven't planted my garlic and maybe it's time to call uncle on that. (But can someone tell me I still have a little time if I set my intentions to get it done this weekend?) The cows have a winter paddock and the chickens have taken to laying there, thus we have been eggless. When the egg basket first ran dry we thought the chickens had simply picked up nest but then realized au contraire! The wretched beasts with whom they share a winter retreat were having themselves a daily egg snack. A horrible thing, for all parties involved. Add it to the list of things to be remedied this coming weekend.

We are busy, too busy. I remain somewhat calm about it all by recognizing that it is only good fortune that keeps us so occupied. No, my child's winter sweater isn't completed. And no, his mittens aren't even on the needles yet. But I've got orders coming in from my shop regularly which means we can pay to keep our house warm without too much stress, which then perhaps means the sweater and mittens can come together on a more flexible timeline? What's that thing about the cobbler and his children with no shoes?

Speaking of the shop, I updated it with beaucoup de buttons last night and I was again blown away by the support I received. Sunday and Monday I spent working my hands within inches of their lives, drills puncturing thumbs and fingers nearly sanded to the bone, and at points I felt very is this worth it? And come to find out it all was. So, thank you. Really and truly. There are things on the horizon for which we are preparing and the shop is such a key element. As of right now, there are still a few packs of buttons left so grab them if you want them. As much as I would like to, I can't promise an update before the holidays. A few people who have picked up a pack have mentioned replacing the plastic buttons on their coats with antler buttons and I think that's a terrific idea! Will be doing that for myself shortly on a certain tacky and beloved leopard number.. Also- point being you don't need to knit, crochet, or craft to find use in these really unique buttons.

Alright, babes. I've got to sign off. The clock is ticking for school to let out and The List is not making itself any shorter, you know? Stay warm, stay sweet.

Visit my shop!

Friday, November 7, 2014

First Snow

 In the hazy dawn hours of Sunday we woke up to a snow that came down sideways. It was thick and white and new, and we thought it was all Very Grand from inside our family bed under a mountain of covers. When a mere 1-3 inches had been predicted in days previous we had assumed it would be like most first snows: more about the ceremony and the dancing of flakes through the air, less about the accumulation and inconveniences like treacherous roads and widespread power outages. We were so horribly mistaken.

 By mid-morning the poly wire that keeps our cows here and not there was sagging heavily like a series of jump ropes post to post. The cows could leave at will, and Ophelia did, as she does without fail whenever an opportunity presents itself. As we shook snow and ice off the fence and lured cows back to the barn, our unpreparedness for winter came sharply into focus. When eventually the cows were safely behind a strategically positioned hog panel, we laughed and shook our heads with wide eyes and did all manner of things other than wonder aloud what was in both of our heads: if this is the beginning, what will the worst of it look like?

That day we stoked the old cookstove for all our waking hours, making bread eggs (or toad in the holes?) and homemade chicken soup; tea and coffee and cocoa. We sat like fat little cats just inches from the flames. We worked with our hands. Eventually we were coaxed out into the unrelenting storm by the smallest of the pro-snow faction. We lobbed snow balls, we picked frozen apples, and we laughed with wide eyes and shaking heads, still wondering what this sort of storm so early in the season could mean for what's to come.

 When the sun was gone from the sky and the storm could only be perceived by standing one's self out in the middle of it, our power took a dying, flickering breath and gave itself over to the harsh weather. We lived the following days with limited power thanks to our backup generator; we were lucky, unlike many of the seventy thousand Mainers who were left in the cold dark. I am not one to curse the first snow, or even the many that come after it, but I'm not so foolish to welcome an early November storm of such ferocity without a little trepidation. This winter has already been billed as a nasty one and if I'm right, this little storm was a message.

Get ready, sweethearts.